By Constantinos Psillides
A DRAFT of the much-hyped hemp cultivation legalisation bill has been finalised and it will be up for discussion before the competent authorities by next week, according to the Greens’ party who have been lobbying to legalise hemp along with medicinal cannabis.
The Greens said in a statement on Wednesday that legalising hemp will open up new possibilities in both the agriculture and industry sectors.
“It is time to shutter taboos and enter a new era. Examples from other countries, that successfully grew an industry surrounding hemp and medicinal cannabis, show us the way forward,” said the statement.
Hemp cultivation should have already been legalised but a bureaucratic mix-up brought the endeavour to a standstill, with the Health ministry permanent secretary claiming that it wasn’t clear whether minister Filippos Patsalis had the legal authority to sign a decree removing hemp from the illegal drugs list.
The bill was sent to Legal Services which was tasked with sorting out the problem.
Hemp, a harmless variety of the cannabis plant that is used mostly in the manufacture of textiles and clothing, has always been classified as illegal in Cyprus, due to the fact that the plant it indistinguishable from marijuana plants.
Hemp has extremely low levels of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the state-altering chemical prevalent in marijuana. Its cultivation is not only legal in the EU, but farmers also receive subsidies. Cyprus is being forced to amend its legislation, since farmers have already planted hemp and have applied for subsidies.
Agriculture minister Nicos Kouyialis had assured that the government has no plans to disregard the EU law, fully intending to harmonise national law but stumbling upon bureaucratic inertia.
The Cyprus Mail contacted both ministers for comment. Kouyialis claimed that his ministry did its part in the process and that the bill is out of its hands, while Patsalis said that he will be awaiting Legal Services to conclude their work on the bill.