Federal cabinet approves first license for industrial, medical use of hemp

A stand showcasing cannabidiol (CBD) oil products at the Department of Development of Thai Traditional and Alternative Medicine in Bangkok on Jan. 6, 2020. (AFP/File)
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Updated 01 September 2020

Federal cabinet approves first license for industrial, medical use of hemp

  • The license will be issued to the Ministry of Science and Technology and Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research
  • Since cannabis is illegal in much of the world, the legal status of cannabis-derived compounds is not always certain

ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Science and Technology Fawad Hussain Chaudhry announced on Tuesday that the cabinet had approved the first license for industrial and medical use of hemp, a specific variety of cannabis plant. 

Hemp is used to extract a compound called CBD or Cannabidiol that is widely used for medical and therapeutic purposes. Since cannabis is illegal in much of the world, however, the legal status of CBD is not always certain either.
The European Union allows the sale of CBD in most of its member states under strict regulations.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States says on its website that it “recognizes the potential opportunities that cannabis or cannabis-derived compounds may offer and acknowledges the significant interest in these possibilities.”
However, the FDA “is aware that some companies are marketing products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds in ways that violate the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and that may put the health and safety of consumers at risk.”
The website adds that the agency is “committed to protecting the public health while also taking steps to improve the efficiency of regulatory pathways for the lawful marketing of appropriate cannabis and cannabis-derived products.”
In Pakistan, a large number of people prefer herbal and traditional medical treatments to more advanced scientific ones since they assume that herbal cures do not have side effects.
Many of these individuals also use CBD that is usually extracted at home.
With the federal cabinet’s decision to allow the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) to carry out the activity under license, people favoring herbal medicines might benefit from the decision, though the science minister did not give further details in his Twitter post.


Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

Updated 19 September 2020

Urdu comic book 'Little Master' to help Pakistani children fight COVID-19 misinformation

  • The book tells the story of a young boy from Karachi's Lyari, who is learning about the virus to help others
  • 'Little Master' is illustrated by Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series 'Paak-Legion'

RAWALPINDI: "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book, is going to be released on Monday to guide Pakistani children how to stay safe amid the coronavirus pandemic and cope with COVID-19 misinformation.
Published by Mehrdar Art & Production (MAP), the book tells the story of Ahmed, a young boy from Karachi's Lyari area, who is trying to learn about the coronavirus to help keep others safe, regardless of their community background.
"Comics are a great way to tell a story positively and are really useful in countering misinformation,” Muhammad Faheem, documentary filmmaker and MAP founder, told Arab News on Saturday.

The cover of "Little Master," an Urdu-language comic book to help Pakistani children cope with COVID-19 misinformation. (Photo courtesy of Muhammad Faheem via AN)

The efforts have been funded by MAP itself and through government and private support. To illustrate "Little Master," Faheem asked for help Umair Najeeb Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s first superhero comic book series "Paak-Legion."
Thousands of copies of "Little Master" will be distributed at schools in underprivileged areas such as Lyari, where misinformation has led to blame games and community tensions that affected virus response. Some narratives even questioned the very existence of the virus and necessity to follow any precautions against it.

Umair Najeeb Khan is working on an illustration for the "Little Master" comic book in Islamabad on Sept. 19, 2020. (Photo courtesy of Umair Najeeb Khan via AN)

In May, Faheem rolled out "Hum Sab Saath, Corona ki Kilaaf" ("All of Us Together Against the Coronavirus"), a campaign through posters, social media and talks by community leaders to address the situation.
"It got to the point where relief efforts in these areas were being compromised because people were questioning who deserved help," Faheem said. "We needed to address not only the severity of what was going on but educate the citizens of these areas on what was real information to help combat the fake news and rising bigotry."
The comic book is a follow up to these efforts.
"When kids read our comics, we hope they will learn more about the pandemic and how it is a collective effort that we all have to join together, regardless of our backgrounds."