Licensed Zim Medicinal Cannabis Producers Getting Big Headed

SOME players who received licenses  to produce Medicinal Cannabis four years ago are reportedly skirting some of the legal provisions in their operations such as informing the health ministry permanent secretary before commencing production of the cannabis.

By Kuda Pembere

With the industry fairly in its infancy stage, MCAZ has since licensed 59 players for the production of medicinal cannabis.

Speaking to the media on the sidelines of an MCAZ-medicinal cannabis producers interface workshop, the regulator’s Director General Mr Richard Rukwata said during inspections they noted the players have been flouting prescribed regulations relating to security, and licensing procedures.

One of the major problems we face is that producers start producing cannabis without having conformed to the requirements of their licenses. One of those requirements is that land on which cannabis is being grown must actually be specified for that purpose.

“The regulator needs to know where the cannabis is produced because there are certain requirements that have to be met with respect to that piece of land. One of those requirements is security. Cannabis cannot be grown in an insecure area.

“Another requirement is that the license holder must actually get the go-ahead from the secretary of health before they commence production and also that their facilities must be inspected by the medicines control authority prior commencement of production and we have seen quitter a number of violations of those in that respect,” he said.

Presenting on the lessons learnt during inspection, MCAZ regulatory officer Mr Clive Kamhoti said some of the licensed players were found wanting when it came to producing documentation of several procedures in the cultivation, and security of the medicinal cannabis.

“Other observations that we have been noting for the bulk of medicinal cannabis licensed producers. So you get to a license production site then you see three greenhouses full of cannabis. You go into a large storeroom full of dried cannabis.

“When you ask for records, there won’t be any record for that cultivation. But these are people who have access to the statutory instruments. These are people who claim that there are operating in line with the good agricultural practices, in line with the good manufacturing practices. But you don’t get any documentation,” he said. “So in most instances, there will be no system for tracking the fate of each and every seed or plant in the germination, propagation, vegetative, harvesting or trimming or packaging stages for production.

“So when we come for our routine inspections and we come for the inspection prior to exporting, these are some of the documents we will be looking for because we can’t confidently issue an export license when you can’t keep these documents. It is just documentation. So let us try as much as possible to document our practices.”

He also said during inspections they noted that some of the sites that want to do oil extractions do not have hand-wash facilities and equipment washrooms to ensure efficient and hygienic operations.

“So, basically this touches on those who want to extract oils. The processing facility has to meet the good manufacturing practices and these are some of the observations we note when we come for inspections,” Mr Kamhoti said.

Voedsel Cannabis executive director Mr Munyaradzi Shamudzarira said they will see to it that they correct some of the areas they were found in contravention of.

“We really appreciate the level of engagement has put forward for us. Coming from the senior regulatory officers to the director general they have an open door policy. They have always have had time to engage with us.

“And we continue to learn from them and draw from their expertise. Going forward I think the onus is on us the industry players to comply with what the regulator is expecting from us,” he said.




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