Sri Lanka plans to export medical cannabis amid worst currency crisis in history

ECONOMYNEXT – Faced with its worst currency crisis to date and looming sovereign default threat, Sri Lanka considers medical cannabis export proposal amid strong resistance to request for assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for debt restructuring.

Sisira Jayakody, Minister of State for the Promotion of Indigenous Medicine, told parliament on Tuesday (30) that Sri Lanka will introduce the necessary legal framework to export medical cannabis over the next three months.

The proposal by ruling Sri Lankan Minister Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) comes as the island nation’s government slowly loses its grip on the economy with strict import controls in place amid calls on exporters and foreign migrants to that they bring foreign currency to Sri Lanka.

“High-quality medical cannabis can be used to treat cancer, neurological diseases, mental disorders, as a pain reliever and also in the beauty culture industry. But it was banned when we were under British rule, ”Jayakody said.

The MP said the government plans to seek parliamentary approval over the next three months for the export of medical cannabis grown in Sri Lanka and that this will be strictly for export, he said. .

In 2020, Minister of Commerce Bandula Gunawardena also said that the export of medicinal cannabis would be profitable for Sri Lanka. However, there was no consensus on last year’s proposal among government ranks, with Chamal Rajapaksa, elder brother of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Minister of State for Homeland Security, opposing it and the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa declaring a strong position against those who promote the legalization of marijuana. .

However, Jayakody said on Tuesday (30) that the department is now taking action to legalize some of the local drugs.

He also said that, without spending rapidly running out of foreign reserves to buy raw materials to produce Ayurvedic medicines, the department has now launched a project under the “Osudharanai Medicine Gardens” to create medicine gardens. in the villages of Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka’s foreign exchange reserves depleted by around 70 percent in the first 10 months of the year to reach US $ 2.3 billion. Reserves are on a downward trend as Sri Lanka has a trade deficit and its overseas remittances and tourism receipts have also declined.

Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal had planned to increase reserves through bilateral loans and currency swaps. However, nothing has materialized so far, although Cabraal said last week that talks about government-to-government swaps and loans were ongoing, but details were not disclosed due to of “radio silence”. (Colombo / November 30/2021)

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