German company in talks with Afghanistan on cannabis cultivation

A German company has confirmed to Cannabis Now that it has reached a preliminary agreement to establish cannabis cultivation operations in Afghanistan’s north—corroborating claims made by the new Taliban regime’s Interior Ministry last month.

It all began with a Nov. 24 tweet (in English) from the Ministry of Interior Affairs of the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,” declared after the militant group seized control of the country in August. It stated that the deputy minister for counter-narcotics “met with a representative” of a corporation called Cpharm, which is to “invest $450 million in setting up a hashish-processing company in Afghanistan.” 

The tweet stated that “medicines and creams” are to be manufactured at the facility (indicating that the word “hashish” was being used as an imprecise stand-in for cannabis). It added: “The project will be officially launched soon and hundreds of people will get job opportunities on the project.”

A CPharm electronic document states that the company’s prospective location for its operations is in Balkh province. This is the northern province of which Mazar-i-Sharif is the capital, and is a traditional heartland of cannabis cultivation in Afghanistan.

The document describes the company’s aspirations in socially responsible terms: “The objective is to build an ecological, sustainable value chain in agriculture and pharmaceutical industry in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to provide a highly profitable…alternative to the current No. 1 and 2 of the Afghan economy, mining and illegal poppy and cannabis industries for the international drug market.” 

Establishing operations in Afghanistan poses some obvious challenges. The document states that CPharm has been seeking approval for the project from Germany’s government: “Initial discussions at the Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) have indicated that the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan can be classified as an acceptable supplier of medical cannabis for Germany and the EU…”

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