The recent decision by Pakistan’s cabinet to allow production of industrial hemp by the government could generate $1 billion in revenue for Pakistan in three years, according to minister for science and technology Fawad Chaudhry, who recently said the ‘landmark decision’ would place Pakistan in the international cannabidiol (CBD) market worth billions of dollars.

The minister had first announced the decision on Tuesday on Twitter, saying the cabinet had approved the first license for the science and technology ministry and the Pakistan Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (PCSIR) for industrial and medical use of hemp. He said

Allaying fears that the cultivation of a poppy-like crop in the country could lead to manufacture of addictive drugs, the minister said several countries like China and Canada are cultivating hemp on tens of thousands of acres.

The plant’s seed is used to make hemp oil, the leaf is used in medicines, while the stem is used to make fibre that could one day replace cotton in the textile industry, he was quoted as saying by Pakistani media reports.

The places chosen for production in the first phase include sites in Peshawar, Chakwal and Jhelum