A combined team of two police divisions busted a 200-acre marijuana farm last week located in Uganda’s second largest national park, Queen Elizabeth National Park, in western Uganda. The operation on arguably the largest farm of the illegal crop in the country to date was commanded by their Divisional Police Commanders from Katwe and Bwera backed by operatives of the state intelligence services (ISO).
Two of the suspects were arrested right inside the farm in the park: Duncan Kambaho, 25, and Isaac Kule, 24, while others were picked from Rwembyo village and in Kiburara town council of Kisinga sub-county.
The District Police Commander (DPC) of Katwe, Tyson Rutambika, said there have been complaints from neighboring districts indicating that a lot of marijuana from the neighboring Kasese district area has been ending up in their area.
He said there has been a series of meetings to encourage the community to abandon the practice, but some remained adamant. Masereka, a local resident, said they woke up to the police force combing their area on Friday morning. He said they knew some of the suspects were intercropping marijuana with other crops in their gardens.
Although marijuana remains legally banned in Uganda pending legislation, several international firms have applied to the Ministry of Health for licenses to export it. An Israeli firm, Pharma Ltd., has already secured land to grow and export cannabis oil after securing a deal from a Canadian firm.
According to the Minister, Dr. Jane Ruth Aceng, the Cabinet has yet to progress to the stage of discussing a policy to authorize not only the medicinal use but recreational use of the substance.
In a related eTN article, it was stated that Seychelles is on a quest to tap into marijuana tourism saying that “marijuana tourism is an untapped market for Seychelles with many tourists flocking to destinations considered to be ‘weed friendly.’”
With the COVID-19 pandemic, many communities have resorted to desperate measures for survival including poaching, the most shocking being the killing of Rafiki, the alpha male silverback mountain gorilla in Bwindi Impenetrable National Park. The marijuana growing in the national park(s), therefore, comes as no surprise.