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Zikalala Talks Up Cannabis at KZN SOPA But Doesn’t Mention Officials Sent 236 Hemp License Applications to the Wrong Authority!

KZN to embrace the NCMP in the year ahead

Premier KwaZulu Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala says the province is going to fast track the National Cannabis Master Plan this year. He made that statement during his State of the Province Address (SOPA) on 23 February 2022. But what he didn’t mention is that behind the scenes the Moses Kotane Institute appears to have botched handling the license application process for a number of small-scale prospective cannabis growers.

 

It sent over 200 hemp licence applications to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) instead of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRDD), which has been the issuing authority for hemp permits since October 2021.

 

Government announced with great fanfare last October that the Department of, but the application process seems to have been bungled by the Moses Kotane Institute, 

 

Delivering his State of the Nation Address (SONA) in Pietermaritzburg on 23 February 2022, Zikalala said more details would be announced in the upcoming provincial budget presentations.

 

Zikalala said the Moses Kotane Institute (MKI),  which falls under the provincial Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs, was playing a crucial role in bringing poorer communities into the legal framework.

 

Premier Praises MKI even though it bungled small farmer license applications 

“Through the Moses Kotane Institute, the Province has since produced a comprehensive study on the green rush. This is to guide our interventions as government, including making substantial hectares of land available for cannabis production. This year, we will fast-track the implementation of Cannabis Master Plan. The MECs for Agriculture and Rural Development and Economic Development will elaborate further in their forthcoming budget speeches” he said.

Zikilala said that KwaZulu Natal and the Eastern Cape were the provinces best geared to take advantage of opportunities in a new cannabis economy and that this sector was a beacon of hope to many.

 

MKI chief executive Dr Thandeka Ellenson told the Natal Mercury on 15 February 2022 that no hemp permits or licenses had been issued to any of its projects even though MKI had assisted growers with business plans, site plans, costing and legal advice, funding applications assistance, farm verifications and extension services 

“During the period 2020/21, MKI received 236 hemp cultivation permits. The permits applications were directed to SAHPRA for processing, because at the time that was the national entity geared towards this function,” Ellenson said. The 236 applicants have since been moved to the Department of Agriculture by the provincial agricultural department.

“Once the applications are approved at the national department, the permits will be issued to growers and planting will commence for those growers that are ready,” she said.

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