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13 arrested for cultivating marijuana in Mbale

Mbale, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Thirteen people are in custody at Busoba police station in Mbale district, for illegally growing marijuana. The suspects were picked up in intelligence-led operations in Nangilima Lower and Nangilima Upper villages in Busoba sub county, Mbale district on Monday.

Rodgers Taitika, the Elgon Region police spokesperson says the operation followed numerous reports by the community about the widespread growth of marijuana in both villages. He explains that during the crackdown, police set ablaze several marijuana gardens and transported some to Busoba police station as exhibits.

“We have managed to arrest the suspects and we are finalizing their files to be presented to the court”. Taitika told URN in Mbale. Milton Burungi, the Elgon Region Criminal Investigations Officer, says that the suspects shall face the consequence of fines and imprisonment.

Martine Shaka Amo, the chairperson of Busoba sub-county, says that marijuana growing in the area has caused a spike in crime, especially theft and domestic violence, and an increased number of school dropouts. He has vowed to team up with security to continue with the operations to ensure the marijuana gardens in his sub-county are replaced with reputable food crops like Irish potatoes and maize.

“Marijuana growing and smoking in Busoba must end, permissiveness by the community about the ignorance of the law on growing the illicit plan must stop”, he said. Cannabis remains illegal in Uganda. However, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, of 2015 legalized the cultivation, production, and exportation of medical marijuana and mandated the health minister to issue written consent for medical marijuana.

According to the guidelines, the cultivators or investors must be cleared by the tax authorities, present evidence of value addition to cannabis and have a minimum capital of $5m (Shs18.3Bn) and a bank guarantee of $1m (Shs4Bn).

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