Zambian officials have arrested 12 Chinese residing in the country on charges of growing cannabis.
The Chinese are said to be cultivating the plant without permit. A government official confirmed the arrests on Thursday.
The 12 Chinese construction workers have been operating in the city of Chipata in Zambia’s Eastern Province.
They had been contracted to build a studio for the state-run Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation.
AFP quotes the provincial government permanent secretary Chanda Kasolo as saying that “It’s really regrettable that the 12 (were) arrested for alleged cultivation of cannabis.”
“The arrest is really regrettable as it will delay the construction works,” Kasolo said.
According to Zambian Drug Enforcement Commission the Chinese had cultivated 6.2kg of the plants. The plants were subsequently uprooted.
Cultivating cannabis for medicinal purposes is allowed in Zambia once permit is granted by the health ministry.
But cultivating the plant for recreational purposes is considered illegal in Zambia.
Suspects could face jail term of up to five years.
Some southern African countries including Zimbabwe and South Africa have allowed for the cultivation of Cannabis.
In Zimbabwe, permits are being given for the growing of the plant for medicinal purposes.
But in South Africa, the country’s top court has allowed for the plant to be cultivated for private use as well.