TASHKENT, Nov 26 (Reuters) – A Malta-based firm will be allowed to grow and produce medical cannabis in Uzbekistan, state news agency UzA reported on Thursday, in the first such deal for the Central Asian country.

The region has a long history of growing cannabis but the drug is prohibited, despite regular calls for its legalisation.

Melabis will grow the plants on 3,000 hectares (about 7,400 acres) of farmland in the Sardoba district of the Sirdaryo province, known for cultivating cotton, melons and watermelons.

The refined product will have THC content of 0.1-0.2%, making it suitable only for medical use, UzA said, adding that the climate in the area was favourable for cannabis and its cultivation required 10 times less water than that of cotton.

“The final product will be mostly exported,” UzA said.

This article was originally published on Nasdaq.