Former boxing star and drug advocate Mike Tyson has been asked to become the ambassador for Malawi’s cannabis crop.
Lobin Lowe, Agriculture Minister for the landlocked country in south eastern Africa, invited the former world heavyweight champion to become Malawi’s ‘Cannabis Branch ambassador’. The government wants to “rope in some investors and even potential buyers”, ministry spokesman Gracian Lungu told news agency AFP.
Head of the Malawi branch of the United States Cannabis Association, Wezi Ngalamila, told the BBC Tyson, 55, had “accepted the invitation and plans were under way for him to visit the country”.
Last year Malawi, famous for its Malawi Gold variety of cannabis, legalised the cultivation of weed for medicinal purposes, and is hoping to increase exports abroad to boost the economy. It is one of many countries in Africa, including Lesotho, Morocco, Rwanda and Zambia, that have either decriminalised cannabis use or legalised medicinal cultivation.
However the proposed partnership with Tyson, who was jailed in 1992 after being convicted of rape of an 18-year old woman in Indiana, has been criticised by Malawian civil society group, the Centre for Public Accountability.
In a statement, the group said: “The CPA is failing to comprehend why Malawi would want to have a convicted rapist as its brand ambassador, more especially, at this time, when efforts to curb violence against women are part of the government agenda.”