Chinese companies have expressed a keen interest in growing hemp in Myanmar for medicinal and industrial purposes as the demand for cannabis products soars in many countries.
Myanmar has cultivated hemp for thousands of years, and local people use it for making paper, textiles, construction materials, and health food.
As of today, more than 30 countries have legalized marijuana, including Canada and some parts of the United States.
However, growing hemp in Myanmar remains illegal without change to the country’s anti-narcotics law.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Law (1993) provides for maximum penalties ranging from five years’ imprisonment for possessing the “cannabis plant” to 15 years’ imprisonment and the possibility of execution for production.
A court in Myanmar in March sentenced a local employee of an American-owned hemp farm to 20 years in prison for violating the anti-drug law.
Myanmar has a market with huge potential. It has ample land and the right climate for hemp, and investors at home and abroad are eager to invest in the cannabis industry.
Last November, Chinese and Burmese governments held the China-Myanmar Economic Cooperation and Development Forum in the border province of Yunnan.
At the summit, many investors from Yunnan and Hong Kong discussed the prospects for growing hemp in Myanmar.
“If growing hemp was legalized in Myanmar, it could not avoid the involvement of Chinese companies,” said Aung Say Toe, the founder of the Mahar Legalisation Movement Myanmar and the Myanmar Hemp Association.
Yan Lin, the chairperson of Burmese Agriculture, Livestock and Rural Development Committee, said he was encouraged by the interest from Chinese companies.
Based on meetings he had had with his country’s Ministry of Health and Ministry of Home Affairs, Yan Lin said he expected amendments to the anti-narcotics law to enable hemp cultivation to be made this year.