Hospitality businesses should embrace cannabis opportunities
Cannabiz Africa’s Legal Desk partner Andrew Lawrie says he’s surprised that more hotels and restaurants have not taken advantage of government’s silent thumbs up to canna-tourism.
His words come as the finishing touches are being put on Africa’s first cannabis hotel in the Vaal Triangle, which Vaal Consortium spokesman Moahloli Molemo says has come about because of Gauteng premier David Makhuru’s out-and-out support for the region’s cannabis economy. He told a Gauteng government cannabis webinar on 8 December 2021 that the Vaal Triangle was embracing all elements of the plant’s value chain and that tourism was an obvious departure point.
Molemo’s comments reflect a confidence in the Gauteng cannabis industry that stretch beyond cultivation, hemp and medicinal cannabis and that tourism is an obvious low-hanging fruit.
While most cannabis industry stakeholders were disappointed by the state’s input on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill in parliament recently, Lawrie pointed out that it actually encourages canna-tourism.
Hospitality route is easiest path to profit in cannabis industry
“In the cannabis sector the easiest route to commercialize is to have a private space within a hotel or restaurant that caters for consenting adult-users who bring their own cannabis”. He said the private cannabis club model offered the hospitality industry some creative ideas.
The SA hospitality industry is reeling under the impact of Covid-19, and the Omicron variant has sent tourism businesses into a tailspin. Last month the CEO of the South African Tourism Services Association (SATSA), David Frost, said local tourism service providers should investigate what benefits the decriminalization of cannabis might offer.
In his presentation to Parliament in November, Senior State Legal Advisor Sarel Robbertze was at pains to define the “private” places where consenting adults could consume products. But even in his narrow definition of the Bill, there was more than a flame of hope for the local hospitality industry.
“If a hotel designates a specific place for smoking cannabis and is restricted to that and is concealed from other guests, it may be regarded as a private place” was part of Robbertze’s presentation, which defined “private spaces” as a “building, house, room, shed, hut, tent, mobile home, caravan, boat or land or any portion therof, to which the public does not have access”.
SA legislators looking at Jamaican cannabis model
Robbertze, who was told by Parliament to consult with the Rasta community about how places of worship could be legally considered private places, said that Jamaica may offer South Africa some legal precedent in this regard. He said the Rastafarian community there had constitutional rights with limitations that could be applied locally. Although Robbertze did not mention this, Jamaica is quietly encouraging “ganga tourism” by legally allowing possession of small amounts of cannabis and the development of a local craft industry, and Jamaica’s new cannabis laws may well be a good departure point for SA legislators.
Canna-tourism has rocketed in the US states where cannabis has been legalized. Cannabis-infused tours are being hosted by travel agencies like Front Row Travels – with (pre-pandemic) trips to Jamaica and South Africa; Higher Way Travel, offering “glamping” tours of California’s Emerald Triangle; and Emerald Tours, advertising “weed and wine” experiences plus visits to cannabis farms.
Other countries actively encouraging “canna-tourism” are Canada, North Macedonia, Uruguay, Portugal and Mexico.
In the past few weeks a new SA site catering for places of accommodation are cannabis friendly, launched its service – View Here.