Lesotho Africa Cannabis Licences & Medicinal Cannabis News

One of the cultivation regions to pay close attention to in the medicinal cannabis sector is Lesotho, Africa.

Recent medicinal cannabis industry news revealed yet another large investment (acquisition) in Lesotho’s medicinal cannabis cultivation sector, along with the opening ceremony of a new processing facility in the Lesotho growing region.

What makes the mountainous region of Lesotho (Africa) a good place for medicinal cannabis cultivation? 

And why are so many industry experts interested in gaining Lesotho medicinal cannabis licences for cultivation, production and exportation of EU GMP products?

Here are reasons Lesotho may be an ideal place for cannabis cultivation and exportation, and why it’s attracting so much European investment capital.

Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation in Lesotho, Africa

Cannabis Licences in The Kingdom of Lesotho | Basics of the Growing Region

  • Lesotho is located inland in the mid-south-eastern region on the continent of Africa
  • It is a beautiful, mountainous region bordered by several South Africa provinces
  • Lesotho is listed in the world’s top 10 highest elevation regions

Is Lesotho a province of South Africa?

  • No, Lesotho is part of Africa but is not a province of South Africa
  • Because Lesotho is surrounded by South Africa provinces, it’s sometimes called Lesotho, South Africa
  • But it is not a South African province; it is a separate country/monarchy


Why is Lesotho a good region for growing medicinal cannabis?

The following 5 attributes make Lesotho a good location for medicinal cannabis cultivation

  • Climate:  Lesotho, nestled amongst the dagga belt, has ideal climate conditions for cannabis plant cultivation
  • Groundwater availability/Soil quality: economic growing conditions
  • Abundant Land for Cultivation: 30,000 sqm of lush, mountainous hectres allows for large, open-air crops
  • Elevation/protection: The average elevation of Lesotho is ~ 2255 m (around 7,090 feet)
    • The highest point in Lesotho is the peak of the Thabana Ntlenyana mountain (elevation = 3,482 metres or 11,424 ft).
    • Even the lowest valleys of Lesotho are well above sea level (1400 metres)
  • Labour: experienced growers and readily available local workforce

Cannabis crops have long been the largest cash crops in Lesotho, with demonstrated capacity, land availability and expertise for growing large amounts of cannabis.

Other industry income is typically derived from diamond mining and water distribution to mining areas.  There is also seasonal snow-ski tourism, given Lesotho’s enviable peak elevations.

Lesotho, Africa | Cannabis Licences

Lesotho Government and Medicinal Cannabis Legalisation

  • The Kingdom of Lesotho is a constitutional monarchy — one of three (3) remaining monarchies in Africa
  • The region is nestled amongst South Africa’s ‘dagga belt’ (Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal), considered to have optimal climate conditions for cannabis cultivation
  • Lesotho is also one of only three areas in Africa that have legalised Medicinal Cannabis; the others being South Africa and Zimbabwe (with Zambia cannabis legislation changes in progress)
  • Lesotho is currently overseen by Head of State, King Letsie III, and governed by a 33-member Senate and a 120-member National Assembly
  • The Honourable Minister of Health (Nkaku Kabi) is also responsible for granting cannabis cultivation licences
  • Lesotho’s Prime Minister, officed in Maseru, is The Right Hon. Dr Motsoahae Thomas Thabane

Is the Government of Lesotho stable?

Lesotho’s political history has been marked by periods of volatility. Lesotho’s Government stability should be considered by investors.   Lesotho’s authorities appear keen, however, to increase their low GDP through facilitating sustainable economic ventures, including seeking investments from potential high-growth industries such as medicinal cannabis manufacturers.

Lesotho could readily reap the rewards of the burgeoning new medicinal-cannabis sector.

  • The region’s suitable growing conditions, along with land and labour availability, are attracting major players in the cannabis production sector for EU GMP exportable products
  • Canada and British/UK export businesses are already key stakeholders in some of the region’s largest cultivation and production businesses

Sources: the World Bank’s overview of Lesotho and The Global Economy’s review of the political stability of Lesotho.

FAQs about Lesotho, Africa and the Medicinal Cannabis Industry

When did medicinal cannabis become legal in Lesotho/Africa?

Answer: Medicinal cannabis was legalised in Lesotho in 2017; but the area has a long history of illegal cannabis production and exportation. 

Background:   Cannabis was illegal in Lesotho as of the 1920s, but illegal cultivation continued because cannabis crops were vital for economic survival across many regions in Africa and South Africa.

Background | History of Cannabis Exportation from Lesotho, Africa

  • Cannabis crops for exportation across African provinces and country borders, as well as local recreational use, have been significant parts of the African and South African culture and economy, for centuries.
  • Historical investigations indicate cannabis plants were also used as food sources and/or tea beverages.

Growth Predictions

  • With cannabis cultivation legally approved in Lesotho, the Africa and South Africa medicinal cannabis industry is expected to reach billions of dollars
  • South Africa and Lesotho, in particular, are anticipated to become major sources for medicinal cannabis exportation into Canadian and UK markets (EU GMP products)
  • The medicinal cannabis export business is expected to significantly increase Lesotho’s current GDP
  • Sector growth in these regions may also help reduce poverty levels in Africa

Corporate-sponsored social-impact programs include building schools and providing meal programs for disadvantaged children and families living in these regions, as well as job creation in cannabis farming.


Key Facts about Lesotho’s Medicinal Cannabis Growing Conditions

  • High altitude crop cultivation opportunities (lush, mountainous terrain, ideal foothills)
    • Lesotho Altitude: 2255 m (lowest point is still 1,400 m above sea level)
    • Lesotho Latitude: -29.60999
    • Lesotho Longitude: 28.23361
  • Growing conditions in Lesotho (sunlight/high altitude growing)
    • Fertile soil | uncontaminated by pesticides
    • DLI / Sunlight | adequate sunlight
    • Water availability | groundwater and local rivers)
    • Annual Mean Rainfall of ~ 700 mm to 800 mm, with 85% of annual precipitation falling between October and April
  • Experienced Labour | experienced workforce/experienced growers, economic cultivation costs
  • Abundant land (valleys and foothills, mountains)

Job Creation in Africa and the economic and political climate of Lesotho | Statistics

  • The country is part of the Commonwealth of Nations
  • The population of Lesotho is over 2 million people
  • Maseru is the largest city and capital in Lesotho (a 4+ hour drive from Johannesburg)
  • Mining and agriculture have been primary sources of GDP, but have recently been in decline
  • Excluding cannabis, the main exports to date have been diamonds (diamond mining) and water redistribution from the region’s many rivers

Lesotho has a distressing political history including severe political oppression and economic strife

  • Approximately 40% of people living in Lesotho live below the poverty line
  • High unemployment rates have driven many residents to seek work across country borders into South Africa provinces
  • World’s second-highest rates of HIV and TB

Medicinal Cannabis Businesses in Lesotho are creating many new jobs for locals.

  • However, many locals were likely to have farmed cannabis illegally, in the past, to survive
  • But potential income from crops was low and/or volatile, due to the illegal nature of the crops

The country of Lesotho, a constitutional monarchy, has been encouraging foreign investments that will lead to higher GDP as well as infrastructure and job growth.

The medicinal cannabis industry is creating job growth, as well as other economic benefits, in Lesotho and other impoverished regions across the globe.

Other names (Nicknames) for Lesotho, Africa

  • Lesotho has been called “the Switzerland” of Africa due to its topography
  • The region’s beauty has also led it to be called “Kingdom of the Sky”
  • It is often called Lesotho, South Africa even though it’s not actually one of the provinces

Geography of Lesotho | Distances and Medicinal Cannabis Crop Export

Closest Airport to Lesotho: Maseru-Moshoeshoe International 

Distance between Lesotho and Durban | By Car or Plane

  • By car, the distance from Durban to Lesotho is about 675 KM (typically over 9 hours to drive)
  • By plane, flights from Durban to Lesotho require a stopover in Johannesburg, and typically take 4 to 5 hours or longer


Distance from Johannesburg to Lesotho | By Car

  • Driving distance between Johannesburg and Lesotho is ~ 410 kilometres
  • It takes between 3.5 and 4 hours to drive from Johannesburg to Lesotho by car.

Distance from Johannesburg to Lesotho | Flying | By Plane

  • The flying distance between Johannesburg and Lesotho (Maserua) is ~351 km (~218 Miles)
  • The actual flight time between Johannesburg and Lesotho is typically about 1 hour

Distance from Capetown to Lesotho | By Car

  • Driving distance between Capetown and Lesotho is ~ 1,400 kilometres (varies by route)
  • By car, the driving time from Capetown to Lesotho is typically over 14 hours


Distance between Capetown and Lesotho | Flying | By Plane

  • Flying between Capetown and Lesotho involves a stop-over in Johannesburg (1 stop flights)
  • Flying from Capetown to Lesotho can take 4.5 hours due (including the stop-over)

Number of Lesotho, Africa | Cannabis Licences issued to date for Medicinal Cannabis Cultivation, Production or Export

Legality of Cannabis in Lesotho | Medicinal Use Only

  • Lesotho Medicinal Cannabis licences issued to date: thirty-three (33) — examples are listed below
  • However, it has been suggested NOT ALL licence applications have been fully paid (and licencing fees are costly)
  • Estimates suggest only one-third the approved licence holders have paid their full licencing fees

Although Lesotho’s cannabis renewal fees will also be costly, the region’s climate and economically-favourable cultivation conditions remain attractive to investors.

Volatility in Lesotho, in terms of fees or rules, should be expected.  That’s because, like other countries newly legalising medicinal cannabis for export, Lesothos authorities are still working out specifics for legalisation and licencing.

Lesotho, Africa | Medicinal Cannabis Licences Granted to Date for cultivation, production and export

Following are a few examples of Lesotho cannabis licences issued as of August 2019 (not inclusive), the most recent licence announced being Lecana (Pty) Ltd (Knowledge Katti).

Company name:  Medi Kingdom (Lesotho)

  • Stakeholders: Publically-Listed Company (originally founded by James Mather, the company was listed in 2018)
  • Date granted: 2017 (first gained a provisional R&D licence, then gained a full operators licence)
  • Import/Export licences:  Canada (Import licence from Africa, 2018); Australia (ODC import licence, 2018)
  • Export Cultivation began: 2018
  • Licence duration: 10 years, renewable on an annual basis
  • Licence specifics: cultivate, manufacture and supply cannabis in line with the kingdom nation’s laws; including approval for import and export
  • Goals: finished products eligible for export (EU GMP) including pharmaceutical products, nutritional products, cosmetics, and extraction of active pharmaceutical ingredients
  • Area of growth: over 50 Hectares, 3 sites (‘Medi-Central’, ‘Medi-Heights’ & ‘Medi-Fields’)

Company name: Verve (Lesotho)

Company Name: Halo (purchasing Bophelo Bioscience in Lesotho)

  • Stakeholders: Kiran Sidhu, CEO of Halo Labs
  • Date granted: 2017- Halo is acquiring Bophelo (in progress as of August 2019)
  • Import/export licences: TBD
  • Export Cultivation: Expected in 2020 but could vary
  • Licence duration: (typically 10 years, renewable on an annual basis, not confirmed)
  • Goal: end products compliant with EU GMP for major export markets
  • Area of growth: 5 hectres; with approval for up to 200 hectres (Bophelo, being acquired by Halo), will make Halo one of the largest cultivators in Lesotho.

Company name: White Sheep (Lesotho)

  • Stakeholders: Hamish Sutherland, Founder and Co-CEO of White Sheep
  • Date granted: 2018
  • Import/Export licences:  Canada
  • Export Cultivation: Expected in Q1 / 2020
  • Licence duration: (typically 10 years, renewable on an annual basis, not confirmed)
  • Licence specifics: Vertically integrated license to cultivate, manufacture (extract, process and produce end products), distribute, securely store, domestically transport, and export cannabis and its derivatives for medicinal purposes from the Kingdom of Lesotho
  • Goals: finished products eligible for export (EU GMP) to Canada and other markets
  • Area of growth: 9000 Hectares and 30,000 sqm processing facility


Company name:  Lecana (Pty) Ltd

  • Stakeholders:  Namibian businessman, Knowledge Katti, and his Mosotho partner, Thabo Ntai
  • Date granted: 2019
  • Export cultivation began: TBD
  • Licence duration: 10 years, renewable on an annual basis
  • Licence specifics for Katti’s Lesotho medicinal cannabis licence: cultivate, manufacture and supply cannabis in line with the kingdom nation’s laws; including approval for import and export
  • Goals: finished products eligible for export (EU GMP) including pharmaceutical products, nutritional products, cosmetics, and extraction of active pharmaceutical ingredients
  • Area of growth: 4.6 hectres



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Other projects that are of influence in Lesotho | Water supply schemes

LHWP Overview

The Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) was a partnership between Lesotho and South Africa.

Project Synopsis: Water redistribution system involving large dams and tunnels throughout Lesotho.

Lesotho Water Redistribution Project (Scope): ongoing water transfer/water supply; hydropower project.

Project Aim:  Deliver water to the Vaal River System in South Africa to support industrial mining.

Rivers impacted: Malibamatso, Matsoku, Senqunyane and Senqu.

The purpose of this project was to (a) provide Lesotho with an income from water transfer/water provision to the central Gauteng province (a large mining/industrial area of South Africa) and (b) generate hydroelectric power for Lesotho.

Page last updated August 6, 2019.