In recent weeks, I have spoken to several entrepreneurs interested in growing cannabis in Africa for exportation to the United States and other markets. It is not hard to see their attraction to the idea: The areas in question have suitable climates to grow cannabis, while inputs such as land and labor are relatively inexpensive. There is still a way to go before it becomes a straightforward to import hemp to the United States as it is to bring in oranges, but importation of raw materials is the logical direction to follow if market forces are heeded.

As the cannabis industry continues to internationalize, it would do well to pay attention to the issue of forced labor. Enforcement activity against the importation of goods made using forced labor has become a major focus area for U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The cannabis industry has the opportunity to get things right from the start, avoiding the pitfalls encountered by companies in other sectors.

By way of background, U.S. law prohibits the importation of “goods, wares, articles, and merchandise mined, produced, or manufactured wholly or in part in any foreign country by convict labor or/and forced labor or/and indentured labor under

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