By Edward Tsumele, Cannabis Business Africa Editor
As the process to finalise the negotiations over South Africa’s National Cannabis Master Plan is still stuck at Nedlac with no indication as to when those negotiations will be finished, Gauteng, the country’s richest province, is marching ahead with consultation of its own with cannabis entrepreneurs. The much talked about National Cannabis Master Plan was first unveiled by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to the stakeholders in March 2021. Since then there has been no real progress about the way forward, a development that has not made the cannabis community in the country happy.
However Gauteng seems to be in a hurry with regards to its preparedness for when the day will arrive when the regulations for the industry will be in place.
To this end, the Gauteng Provincial Government’s Department of Economic Development, Agriculture and Rural development under MEC Mpho Parks Tau, (in the picture above) who is a former Mayor of Johannesburg, has organized a cannabis webinar for next week. This first provincial government organized cannabis indaba will take place virtually with cannabis entrepreneurs in the province on June 23, 2021.
It however will be interesting to see how the provincial cannabis indaba will pan out, especially because in March when the master plan was unveiled, there was a lot of dissatisfaction among participants with not only the slow pace of government processes in developing a regulatory framework for the industry, but also the fact that the plan lacked details.
However Gauteng seems to be in urgency with regards to preparing the industry, even though the legal framework is a national government competency, and not a provincial mandate under the current laws. With its stated broad proclamation when it comes to its mandate that includes inclusive economic development and creating a conducive environment for business to thrive, cannabis entrepreneurs remain hopeful that the province will lead the way in opening opportunities in the industry for investors, especially in the processing part of the cannabis value chain. These hopes were als raised in April this year when the Premier of Gauteng, David Makhura in his Budget Speech, announced that not only was the hemp industry was a top priority and key point for development, but his administration had identified a site West of Johannesburg that will be a hub for processing hemp products.
“The mandate of the Gauteng Department of Economic Development (GDED) is to facilitate, promote and develop economic growth in the Gauteng City Region. This is done with a targeted commitment to focus on enhancing inclusivity in the economy, whilst not neglecting to improve its competitiveness. The Department has two main areas of responsibility; it is tasked with ensuring that the right environmental framework and initiatives are put in place to foster economic growth and job creation in the province. Secondly, it is responsible for ensuring that sound financial management policies and structures are in place. These responsibilities are grouped within the following functions: • Administration • Business Regulation and Governance • Economic Planning,’ the provincial department states on its website.
It also states that its vision as follows: “A radically transformed, modernised and re-industrialised economy, manifesting decent work, economic inclusion and equity in the region.
The objective of the webinar is promoted as that of providing a platform for various stakeholders for a dialogue in promoting industrial cannabis in Gauteng Province, under the theme: Unlocking the Gauteng Cannabis Economy: Special focus on the Regulatory Framework, the cannabis indaba will take place from 10am to 12noon.