President approves ordinance to regulate production of cannabis derivatives

Approval comes through after 4 years of and jurisdiction conflicts

ISLAMABAD: President Dr. Arif Alvi of Pakistan has given his approval for the promulgation of the Cannabis Control and Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2024, aimed at regulating the cultivation, extraction, refining, manufacturing, and sale of cannabis derivatives for medical and industrial purposes.

The ordinance, named the Cannabis Control and Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2024, aligns with Pakistan’s commitment as a signatory to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961. Article 23 of the convention recommends the establishment of a government agency to regulate cannabis cultivation and production, while Article 28 addresses matters related to opium poppy cultivation.

According to the approved ordinance, an authority known as the Cannabis Control and Regulatory Authority will be established under the administrative control of the relevant division. This authority will be overseen by a 13-member Board of Governors, chaired by the Secretary of the Defence Division, with representatives from various government departments, the private sector, and intelligence agencies.

The board will be responsible for making policy decisions and advising the federal government on all matters related to cannabis policy, including licensing activities governed by the ordinance.

The federal government retains the power to convene board meetings as needed and appoint a Director General for the authority, along with employees, advisors, and consultants as necessary. Additionally, the government will develop and prescribe a national cannabis policy covering all aspects of the cannabis derivatives market.

The ordinance allows for the issuance of licences for a five-year period and establishes a committee to oversee the development of prescription and non-prescription drugs from cannabis derivatives for various purposes.


Previous attempts to legalise the production of medicinal hemp in Pakistan date back to September 2020 when Fawad Chaudhry, the former Minister for Science & Technology, proposed the initiative. Despite initial approval from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s cabinet, the transfer of the hemp issue to the Ministry of Narcotics Control in December 2022 posed challenges.

The Ministry of Science and Technology’s efforts were met with resistance from the Ministry of Narcotics Control, which argued that hemp’s relation to marijuana warranted its jurisdiction. Consequently, the hemp issue was transferred, affecting the Ministry of Science and Technology’s plans for industrial hemp cultivation.

In response, the Ministry of Science and Technology shared the draft “National Industrial Hemp and Medicinal Cannabis Policy” with relevant authorities. The then MoST planned on establishing cannabis farms in Jhelum, Peshawar and Chakwal, due to favourable climate. However, conflicting interests emerged during discussions at the Ministry of Narcotics, delaying the policy’s approval.

Despite recognizing the potential economic benefits and job creation opportunities associated with hemp cultivation, concerns raised by the Ministry of Food Security regarding research and cultivation approval procedures further complicated the situation.

The approval of the Cannabis Control and Regulatory Authority Ordinance 2024 signifies progress in regulating the cannabis industry in Pakistan. However, challenges remain as conflicting interests and regulatory hurdles persist, highlighting the complexities of legalising and regulating cannabis cultivation.

Ghulam Abbas
Ghulam Abbas
The writer is a member of the staff at the Islamabad Bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]



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