By Edward Tsumele
Cape Town based businessman Warren Schewitz does not shy away from telling people that he spent 12 winters in Canada. The reason for that becomes clear when you get to know what kind of business’ he is involved in.
His company, Southern Sky, is one of the first companies in South Africa to be awarded a permit for research and a license to cultivate and sell cannabis for medicinal purposes as well as selling CBD-infused products.
These products, under Southern Sky, are sold through Southern Sky’s subsidiary Goodleaf.
Goodleaf currently operates upmarket cannabis wellness stores in Johannesburg and Cape Town.
Alongside high-quality CBD oil, Good Leaf manufactures a topical skincare range, which combines the natural benefits of CBD and hemp seed oil with various other oils derived from African botanicals – including Green Rooibos, Kalahari Melon, Marula, Baobab and Namibian Myrrh “to create the perfect skincare range for all skin types”.
“The soothing, moisturising and anti-inflammatory properties of these plants echo those in CBD – making them a particularly powerful combination for skin vitality. The skincare range has been divided into three categories: Soothe, Nourish and Cleanse.
The Soothe range includes the Relief Roller, Glow Serum and After Sun; and the Cleanse range is made up of a Face Cleanser, Hand Wash and Body Wash. Under the Nourish range is a Lip Balm, Morning Moisturiser, Night Moisturiser, Hand Cream, Face Mask and Body Lotion. “CBD – a natural chemical compound extracted from the cannabis plant – interacts with the body’s endocannabinoid (ECS) system, which promotes balance within the skin, and has shown great promise in assisting with inflammation and hydration as well as the regulation of oil production to prevent break outs,” the company explains.
Schewitz was in Johannesburg just in time before Covid-19 struck forcing the country to go into lockdown for the first time in March 2020, to launch the Parkhurst Goodleaf wellness store.
It is the fourth store to be opened by the company in the country.
The Parkhurst store is ideally situated in northern Johannesburg at the Cobbles Shopping Soothe,and when I visited the store recently, it became clear that it has found love among the wealthy residents of this suburb and visitors alike.
As a scanned through the cannabis related books also for sale in the shop, a middle aged woman walked in and was warmly greeted by the sales assistants, suggesting that she is a regular to this shop.
“Let me see what I am going to get today,” she said as she scanned the shelves.
And when Schewitz was in Johannesburg for the launch he had a chat with Cannabis Business Africa about the activities of the company, one of the few that have been given permits by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority to cultivate, extract and sale CBD infused products legally in the market.
“Having our own farm means that we are in full control of our standards, and this means that the products we send out to the market are of a high quality. This is important especially during a time when anyone can manufacture cannabis products in their garages, potentially compromising the quality that they sell to the public.
With each and every product we sell, its original source can be traced back and that means that its quality can be tested to confirm its authenticity,’ he said.
. In this exclusive interview with Cannabis Business Africa conducted on the sidelines of the store launch activities, Schewitz said that his company got both the license and the permit to cultivate cannabis on their piece of land in their Eastern Cape for research purposes from the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority.
Crucially, this means that everything they do is 100 percent legal and is strictly in accordance with their license conditions.
Canada is one of the countries worldwide, increasingly almost all the 50 states in the US, where cannabis is currently either wholly legalized, decriminalised or bills are being brought to various state legislatures to effect legal reforms with regards to cannabis, in the US.
Also in Europe some countries are also in the process of instituting cannabis legal reforms ranging from medical cannabis for research purposes to industrial hemp.
South Africa has conditionally legalized cannabis through a 2019, Constitutional Court ruling that declared that adults are allowed to cultivate cannabis in their own home, and can consume it among consenting adults in the privacy of their home.
Then the Court had given Parliament two years to come up with legislation to give effect to this ground breaking court ruling. And indeed towards the end of last year, a Bill was brought before Parliament to legalise the cultivation and consumption of cannabis in one’s private home, with specific conditions and clarifications spelt out with regards to quantities that one person is legally allowed to have.
However Bill has not been warmly embraced by everyone as it is regarded to be narrow, and is still found wanting when it comes to commercial exploitation rules of cannabis in the country.
However South African Health Products Regulatory Authority and the Ministry of Health through the Director General may issue permits and licenses to entities that apply to do research and those selling CBD infused products to the public.
In the meantime those that have been lucky to get the often elusive permits and licenses are excited about this new industry.
“Quality control is very important to us, and therefore every product we manufacture has to stick to the legal guidelines. We have the expertise and we have the machinery to do the tests. We got our license and permit recently. In fact our first harvest is taking place this April,” says Schewitz.
Schewitz also added that what makes their CBD infused products unique is that most are infused with African botanicals.
“We did not want to produce products that are not different from those from America. We want our products to be uniquely African, and therefore the use of African botanicals such as Green Rooibos, Kalahari Melon Baobab and Namibian Myrrh, and Marula. Using local African botanicals is very important, given the fact that cannabis is very African as it has a long history with this continent that has a good climate and good soil for the plant to grow well. We are committed to grow this industry in southern Africa, and therefore we are serving the local market as opposed to exporting as this will grow the local industry,” Schewitz explained.
.Besides the 4th Street, Parkhurst store, Johannesburg, the other Good Leaf stores are situated in the Zone in Rosebank, Johannesburg, Menlyn Park Mall in Tshwane, and 37 Buitenkant Street, Cape Town.