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Govt seeks investment proposals for medicinal cannabis in EPZs

By: Staff Writer

June 18, Colombo (LNW): Sri Lanka is in talks with investors to set up a cannabis growing and export processing zone, Investment Promotion Minister Dilum Amunugama said.

A committee has been appointed to look in to growing cannabis for export, and a report has been completed. Authorities have tapped international experts to help devise a set of rules to govern cannabis growing and processing.

Canabis has multiple uses, including medical applications linked to the active ingredient cannabidiol.

The Government has called for project proposals from local and foreign investors interested in the cultivation and manufacturing of medicinal products from cannabis (Triloka Vijayapathra) for export purposes.

The initiative aims to tap into the global demand for medicinal and allied products derived from cannabis.

The move comes into light after the Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Bandula Gunawardena on 6 February 2024 dismissing claims that a proposal had been presented to the Cabinet of Ministers on cultivating cannabis for export purposes.

The projects will fall under the joint oversight of the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka (BOI) and the Department of Ayurveda (DOA). The BOI will facilitate and implement the projects within a dedicated BOI zone, while the DOA will manage the cultivation, production, regulation and licensing processes.

As per the BOI, the project proposals will be evaluated according to the Ayurveda Act No. 31 of 1961, the Board of Investment of Sri Lanka Law No. 04 of 1978 and other applicable laws.

“Qualified applicants must make a minimum investment of $ 500,000. Upon meeting the required criteria and receiving a recommendation from the BOI, the DOA will issue the necessary licenses for the projects,” the BOI advertisement noted.

An initial license fee of $ 100,000 is required, with an annual renewal fee of $ 200 thereafter.Additionally, qualified applicants must place a security deposit of $ 2 million with the BOI prior to signing the agreement and it will be held for the duration of the license’s validity.

Prospective applicants must also pay a non-refundable application fee of $ 400 to the BOI and a project evaluation fee of $ 1,250 to the DOA. Applications must be submitted to the BOI before 20 June 2024.

Following the denial of Cabinet Co-Spokesman and Minister Gunawardena, on 7 February 2024, former State Minister of Tourism Diana Gamage confirmed that the Cabinet had already approved the export of cannabis in 2023. 

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