Malawi has defended its decision to ask Mike Tyson to become an ambassador for a new national marijuana initiative.
“Tyson took the job as ambassador with the understanding that, he is going to talk to his fellow boxers and expound the importance of this policy shift in regards to acceptance and support of medical cannabis in Africa,” Parliamentarian Victor Chirombe told The Guardian.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika introduced the proposal in Parliament last week. It would see a national legalized program that would allow locals to grow and use cannabis for a number of ailments.
Tyson will be meeting with interested citizens in the country, which would enable them to practice the drug and share their stories, the the paper reported.
“I am not backing away from my decision. It is not my intention to encourage people to smoke cannabis if not proven safe and beneficial to their health,” Mutharika said, according to Guardian.
“President Peter Mutharika believes that marijuana is safer than drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco cigarettes. He realizes that in an unequal society such as ours, medical cannabis can be an effective tool to deliver quality care to our population. We need to recognize that people with illnesses are more likely to suffer from the side effects of other prescribed medicines,” said Health Minister Ofwono Opondo, according to The Guardian.
However, some experts have slammed the proposal and don’t believe it could work.
“We still remember the experience of prohibition from 20 years ago that seemed to have helped in controlling illegal drugs, it didn’t result in any other beneficial change in the minds of young men,” Simon Reith, Deputy Director of the London School of Economics’ Global Drug Policy Centre told Sky News.
“Perhaps Mike Tyson is able to give Malawi the kind of credibility and legitimacy that it needs to put its program in place.”
The announcement was made on April 11. In the past week, Mutharika’s approval rating has fallen 14 points to the lowest level since his first term began six years ago, according to a survey published Tuesday.
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