Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho on Cannabis Making the Nation Famous & Respectable
The Honourable Deputy Prime Minister of Lesotho Monyane Moleleki sat down with James West at the Cannabis Europa Conference in London, England to discuss all things cannabis within the country of Lesotho. Lesotho was the first African country to legalize the cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis and has attracted international investments from major cannabis companies. His excellency outlines the nations deep history of administering herbal medicine and how the cannabis plant fits in line with Lesotho’s traditions. Lesotho parliament has passed legislation of cannabis for pharmaceutical products and are now modernizing their regulation to become more compliant and progressive. Honourable Moleleki believes that being on the cutting edge of legal and regulatory framework, investors can feel more comfortable to invest within the country. He also discusses the country’s compliant EU GMP standards for extraction, current cannabis investment and the company’s currently growing within the country. Halo Labs Inc (NEO:HALO) (OTCMKTS:AGEEF) (FRA:A9KN) currently cultivate, manufacture and export cannabis products in Lesotho with a strategic partnership with Bophelo Bioscience. This partnership provides Halo with over a 14 hectare land package with an option on an additional 194 hectares.
James West: Joining me now is my very special guest, His Excellency Mr. Monyane Moleleki, who is the Deputy Prime Minister and a Cabinet Minister of Lesotho. Sir, welcome to my show.
Monyane Moleleki: Well, it’s a pleasure being here, James.
James West: Can I ask you what was the catalyst for Lesotho to become a cannabis advocate?
Monyane Moleleki: Well, James, you know, we come from traditions of herbal medicine generally. The only medical people, doctors, traditionally speaking, were herbal doctors, so to speak. So we have always looked upon any herbal medicine positively. The people who came to occupy our land before we did, thousands of years, were the sand people, the bushmen people, the so-called Hottentots, and they relied on Mother Nature to produce the herbs to keep alive and healthy.
So because of that tradition that we have inherited from them, it has come naturally for us to look positively upon herbal medicine. That is the tradition. And we are not really used, traditionally speaking, to the chemical chemistry medicine, pharmacy. So we built on the traditional medicine that we have inherited from those who have gone before us, and are now modernizing it. Even people who believe in chemistry and chemical products for medicine are beginning to become converted to our way of working with Mother Nature, you know, the endowment of nature in producing medicines.
James West: So how far back would you say the tradition of herbal medicine goes in Lesotho?
Monyane Moleleki: It’s from time immemorial, but at least formally, our Parliament, in 1974 – that’s 45 years ago – already passed legislation which made it possible with the advent of cannabis for pharmaceutical products. So it came naturally from the antecedents, from things which came before you and I were – well, before you were born, James. I was already a young man when the Parliament passed that legislation.
Now we are modernizing it to become more compliant, to become more progressive, if you will.
James West: Sure.
Monyane Moleleki: Stay on the cutting edge of legal and regulatory framework, so that the investors feel welcome and comfortable to come into our country, be properly regulated, without hampering their work.
James West: So is the infrastructure of Lesotho currently, in its current form, conducive to compliance with EU GMP standards for extraction?
Monyane Moleleki: It’s already compliant, sir, because it was written into modern legislation, but as I say, we are going from, you know, step by step, to become more compliant and be more progressive so that we always remain on the cutting edge.
James West: Tell me about the environment for growing cannabis in Lesotho. Is it the right temperature, the right soil, the right elevation?
Monyane Moleleki: Okay, let me say a word about the advantages we have. One is the water quality, and cannabis needs plenty of good quality water. And all the major, you know, fresh water sources in Southern Africa, Southern Africa, have their sources in our country, because God placed Lesotho nearest to Him, up above sea level. And those conditions, up above sea level, make it very healthy for cannabis plants and herbs, you know, the hemp, and so on, to grow.
Because, and the soils are rich as well. So everything is there made for us. We only have to take advantage of it, realize it, notice what we’ve got, and make use of it.
James West: Sure. Is the idea for the government of Lesotho to welcome all comers who want to invest and grow throughout Lesotho, or is it more of a measured approach to select from a limited number of the people who will come rushing to –
Monyane Moleleki: We are wide open to applications and a show of interest. And then we select the very best that come, so that everyone feels welcome and invited, so that there is good, you know, environment for all to participate who have an interest.
James West: Right. Interesting. So how much investment has come into the country so far?
Monyane Moleleki: In dollar terms, I wouldn’t say off the cuff, but I can assure you, sir, there is a plethora of companies wishing, you know, applying for licenses, even, I’m afraid, fly-by-night outfits. But everybody feels that the doors are open, and they are welcome; and it’s up to the regulation mechanism to sift and pick and choose the best.
James West: So are you interested, as a nation, in supplying just commodity-level biomass, or are you more interested and focused on creating the value-add products that constitute this –
Monyane Moleleki: We are much more interested in going the entire range, from growing, cultivation that is, to extraction. We are collaborating with the best institutions and universities from around, from beyond South Africa, from South Africa, from our own country. In other words, we are inviting the best brains and researchers from across the globe to come and work with us, because the atmosphere and climate is already right, now, as it is. And we are becoming only more compliant.
James West: Great. Are there companies currently growing cannabis there?
Monyane Moleleki: Yes, sir. At least, I can think of close to about six or seven already in production since 2018.
James West: Interesting. Well, it’s going to be a great story to see how it puts Lesotho on the map in terms of – like, I had never heard of Lesotho. I had always saw it on a map and said, oh, Lesotho.
Monyane Moleleki: Oh, I see.
James West: Which everybody has. But suddenly, now everybody knows how to say Lesotho because of the cannabis revolution.
Monyane Moleleki: Thank you, thank you, thank you. You know, it always works out like that. If there is a good football or tennis player, sometimes people know more about the tennis player and the footballer than the President of the country.
James West: Right.
Monyane Moleleki: So now that you know us, thanks to cannabis, thanks to cannabis! Respect the plant, because it’s made us famous and respectable now to the world.
James West: Right.
Monyane Moleleki: Thanks to the plant. I’m going to start a, you know, a motto: Respect the Plant! Thanks to the Plant, we are world famous now.
James West: I’m with you there, that’s great! Thank you very much for your participation today.
Monyane Moleleki: Thank you very much, James, thank you very much.