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Is Weed Legal in Malawi? (April 2024)

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Yes, Malawi legalized the commercial production, use, and export of cannabis for medical, scientific, and industrial use in 2020. The legal status of cannabis in Malawi is primarily focused on industrial hemp rather than recreational use. The cultivation, processing, and sale of industrial hemp are regulated under the Hemp Act of 2018. However, recreational use remains illegal, and possession or distribution of cannabis can lead to legal consequences.

Cannabis has a long history of traditional use in Malawi, particularly within certain communities. It has been used for medicinal, spiritual, and cultural purposes. Indigenous communities have incorporated cannabis into traditional rituals and ceremonies, often valuing it for its perceived healing properties.

Malawi is renowned for its unique cannabis strains. One of the most famous strains is Malawi Gold, a sativa landrace known for its potency and distinctive sweet and earthy flavors. This strain has gained international recognition for its quality and has a dedicated following among cannabis enthusiasts.

Despite the legal restrictions, an illicit market for cannabis exists in Malawi. The country has struggled with the challenge of illegal cultivation, trafficking, and consumption of cannabis. This underground market operates outside the boundaries of the law, posing challenges for regulation and control.

About Malawi

Malawi is a landlocked country located in southeastern Africa. It is bordered by Tanzania to the northeast, Mozambique to the east, south, and west, and Zambia to the northwest. Malawi is often referred to as “The Warm Heart of Africa” due to the friendly and welcoming nature of its people. Malawi's economy is predominantly agrarian, with agriculture playing a vital role in the country's GDP and employment. The cannabis industry, if properly regulated, has the potential to contribute to the agricultural sector and provide additional economic opportunities.

Mike Tyson as Malawi’s Cannabis Ambassador

In 2021,  Malawian minister of agriculture Lobin Lowe requested Mike Tyson to become the country’s cannabis brand ambassador. According to Gracian Lungu, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Malawi aims to promote its cannabis industry on a global scale. In an interview with Quartz, Lungu expressed the belief that collaborating with Mike Tyson could provide significant assistance in advancing the country's industrial and medicinal cannabis sectors. Given the sluggish progress in marketing the industry internationally thus far, the government sees the association with Tyson as a strategic move to enhance visibility and attract attention to Malawi's cannabis endeavors.

Can You Grow Weed at Home in Malawi?

The cultivation of cannabis for personal use or recreational purposes is illegal in Malawi. Individuals are not permitted to grow cannabis plants at home without proper authorization and licensing from the authorities.

To legally cultivate cannabis, particularly industrial hemp, in Malawi, individuals or entities must obtain the necessary licenses and comply with the regulations outlined in the Hemp Act. The licensing process involves meeting specific criteria and adhering to strict guidelines set by the relevant regulatory bodies.

Illegal Cultivation of Cannabis in Malawi

Malawi, situated in Southern Africa, holds a prominent position as one of the major cannabis producers in the region.The cultivation of cannabis primarily takes place in remote areas of the central and northern regions of the country. Notably, the Likwawa hills in Mzimba District and the regions near the Lupache river in Nkhotakota District are renowned for producing high-quality marijuana. Other districts such as Ntchisi, Kasungu, Ntcheu, and Dedza also contribute to cannabis cultivation, although to a lesser extent. Growers typically maintain small fields hidden in mountain hills, concealed in bushes, or intercropped with other crops, emphasizing discretion. While commercial farmers exist, the majority of cultivation is conducted by small-scale growers.

In the realm of cannabis cultivation, women play a significant role, focusing on the process of chamba cultivation. On the other hand, men primarily engage in the marketing and trade of the crop.In Malawi, marijuana buds undergo a curing process where they are tightly bound in banana or maize leaves. These cured buds, known as ‘cobs' locally, are sold and traded, referred to as ‘mfani' or “bola” in the Chichewa language.

The exceptional quality of Malawian cannabis has positioned it as a top performer in sales across various markets where it is introduced. International organized groups actively engage Malawians to facilitate the purchase and production of cannabis from local growers. Primarily, the transportation of cannabis from Malawi occurs through the borders of Mozambique and Zimbabwe, reaching South Africa. Consequently, the popularity of Malawian cannabis has spurred an increase in marijuana tourism in both Malawi and South Africa, attracting holidaymakers in search of cannabis experiences. More recently, the reach of Malawian cannabis has extended to markets in Kenya, Tanzania, and several other locations. Notably, Malawi Gold, the country's renowned cannabis strain, has even made its way to the Netherlands, highlighting its international presence.

Despite the illicit exportation of Malawi Gold for recreational purposes, the country has yet to legalize cannabis cultivation for recreational use. Consequently, Malawi has missed out on the opportunity to collect taxes from this lucrative resource, which eagerly awaits the chance to be harnessed.

Future Perspectives

Malawi has a significant history of tobacco cultivation, and it has traditionally been one of the country's primary cash crops. The introduction of legalized industrial hemp cultivation provides an alternative crop for farmers, potentially diversifying their income sources.

Malawi's cannabis industry, particularly in the form of industrial hemp, holds significant economic potential. The cultivation of hemp can contribute to various sectors, including textiles, building materials, cosmetics, and CBD extraction. The legalization and regulated production of cannabis could create job opportunities, attract investments, and contribute to the country's economic growth.


Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.