Big brains in cannabis meet with government to map out future of emerging industry

By Edward Tsumele, Cannabis Business Africa Editor

The cannabis industry after many months of waiting and waiting for government to develop a Master Plan for the emerging lucrative cannabis industry, now will have their day to craft the path for a multibillion Rand industry.

Government has eventually circled March 30 as the day when the industry’s brands will have their voice heard and their and input into a master plan for the country’s noted, at a virtual Cannabis indaba organized by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, under Minister Thoko Didiza.

This much awaited master plan indaba is expected to attract leaders in the cannabis industry from both the private and public sector in South Africa as these expects draw a road map for this industry, which is increasingly becoming legalized globally, with 30 countries so far having legalized this industry in one form or another.

South Africa though in principle is on the road to liberalise laws governing this plant, the path has been painfully slow and the industry is still mired in grey areas, awaiting for a comprehensive mastr plan that will guide legislation governing this industry estimated to be worth R27 billion Rands by 2023.

The US, has seen economies of States where cannabis is legal boom over the years and cannabis companies get listed on the country’s major bourses. Recently Curaleaf in the US has emerged as the biggest cannabis company globally after acquiring other companies in Europe. Although under Federal Laws, hemp has been legalized since 2018, cannabis for recreational use remains illegal. However under the new Joe Bidden administration more cannabis bills are expected to be put before the US Congress. And in December 2020, the United Nations rescheduled cannabis from being regarded as a hard drug to a lesser stringent scheduling, effectively opening the doors for countries to legalise medical cannabis. In South African a few licenses for medical cannabis have been issued,  by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). However the process of get a license remains onerous under the current legislation.

Trading in CBD infused products that have negligible amounts of THC, the compound that causes one to be high once smoked, is allowed under a standing SAHPRA exemption that expires in May. However daily does under the exemptions are clearly specified and must be obeyed to stay within the law.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development hereby invites South African cannabis private sector stakeholders, producer organisations, associations, processors, manufactures, retailers, importers, seed companies to the National Cannabis Master Plan workshop. The purpose of the workshop is to consult the cannabis  private sector stakeholders on the draft National Cannabis Master Plan that will provide a broad framework for the development and growth of the industry.

The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development had co-ordinated the development of the National Cannabis Master Plan through the Inter-departmental Committee on Cannabis in line with directive from Cabinet. The current draft of the Cannabis Master Plan was endorsed by MINTECH, Ministerial Advisory Committee on Cannabis, the Inter-Ministerial Committee as well as Executive Committee of DALRRD. All these structures directed that the draft Master Plan must be subjected to consultation processes with business.  The Master Plan is aimed at diversifying the economy of this country thereby contributing to growth, inclusivity, job creation and poverty alleviation,” said a notice released by the department on Wednesday.

The particulars of the meeting are as follow:

Proposed date: 30 March 2021

Time:  10H00

Venue: Microsoft Teams (Join on your computer or mobile app)

Click here to join the meeting

For enquiries contact: Ms Francina Rakgahla, on 012 319 6092, 084 581 8965 /
FrancinaM@dalrrd.gov.za or Mr Cecil Mogase, on 012 319 6224, 072 846 3165 / CecilM@dalrrd.gov.za.

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