Sri Lanka to grow cannabis for traditional ayurveda wellness use and export to US

Cannabis, aka marijuana, was freely used throughout Sri Lanka as a traditional wellness medication for generations—until the British arrived and banned it.

While still illegal as a recreational drug, it’s available under license for ayurveda herbal treatments and other medicinal uses.

But there’s a slight problem. There not enough home-grown cannabis to go round, and most medicinal cannabis is supplied by the courts after being seized by the police.

But that problem has now been solved.

The government has just announced that Sri Lanka is to cultivate its first official cannabis plantation to supply the traditional medicine market and for export to the United States.

The Sunday Times reports that “the 100-acre (40-hectare) cannabis farm, which could produce more than 25 tonnes a year and would be under military protection, would ensure a regular high quality supply”.

It reports Health Minister Rajitha Senaratne as saying: “Many ayurvedic doctors have complained that they don’t get good-quality cannabis for their preparations. Good cannabis is a vital ingredient in the preparation of traditional medicine.”

Because the traditional herbal medicine market depends on handouts from courts, “by the time our native doctors get this cannabis, it is about four to five years old and it has lost its effectiveness”.

Senaratne said the government expected to export the surplus from its proposed farm at Ingiriya, 60 kilometres (37 miles) southeast of Colombo.

“I am told there is a high demand in the US and several other countries. Cannabis is used by the pharmaceutical industry in the manufacture of tranquilisers and painkillers.”

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