Fields of Green for All (FGFA) has offered the South African Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) its Full Spectrum Cannabis Policy Manifesto as the founding document to guide the roll-out of the country’s cannabis policy.
The activist organization released its fully revised Manifesto on 15 March 2021, the result of decades of collective input from various stakeholders in the cannabis industry.
The FGFA Manifesto has been drawn up in response to a request for proposals by the DTI and may spur some action for the long-awaited national National Cannabis Master Plan NCMP), a policy initiative that appears to have been gathering dust in the corners of bureaucracy despite numerous inputs from academics, the private sector and community activists.
FGFA proposes that:
- The Manifesto be used as a foundational document in developing the NCMP;
- Government uses the FGFA stakeholder network to deepen their insight and build relationships across all spheres in the cannabis supply chain;
- An academic network under the acronym COUP ( Cannabis Organisation University of Pretoria), provide academic rigour and public credibility to the formation of the CMP;
- A process of public participation be established to get broad input into the NCMP, possibly in the form of a commission of inquiry;
FGFA broadly agrees with NCMP but has “serious reservations”
FGFA says although its Manifesto is in line with the NCMP’s broad objectives, it has “serious objections to some of the assumptions, terms and ideas put forward in these objectives. Should we be included in the process going forward, we would like to bring our evidence and research to the table in order to correct these inaccuracies from the start.
NCMP calls for a strong local cannabis processing industry
The manifesto addresses the following objectives of the draft NCMP:
- Increase the volumes and variety of cannabis products destined for both local and export markets.
- Establish and increase the capacity of South African farmers to produce dagga and hemp.
- Create opportunities for creation of small and medium size enterprises across the cannabis value chain.
- Replace imported cannabis products with locally produced products.
- Increase investments in research and technology development to support increased production, productivity and competitiveness of the cannabis industry.
- Establish and increase the manufacturing capacity of the South African cannabis industry.
- Development and maintenance of an effective regulatory system by strengthening law enforcement measures to deter the production, manufacturing and sale of cannabis outside the legal framework.
According to the draft NCMP, the industry has been categorised into Medicine, Food, Industrial and Recreational sectors. FGFA says it “objects very strongly to the term “recreational” and requests that this term be replaced with Responsible Adult Use. The term “recreational” is stigmatising and inaccurate.
FGFA’s Myrtle Clarke: replace the term “recreational” with “adult-use”
“Whilst we agree with the categories above as a starting point in creating the Masterplan, our Manifesto has elaborated on these categories further by including the most important sector: “Kasinomic” or rural / township – based users, cultivators and traders”.
Kasinomics can be described as the township socio-economics spanning traditional plant use, cash-based trading and the non-declared spending patterns of black communities outside the formal economic sector.
Cannabis: Government out of step with its own policies
FGFA says it is concerned that “government is still fighting the legalised regulation of cannabis in South Africa in court and the authors of the Manifesto are, in various ways, plaintiffs in these court cases. We know there are already various stakeholders advocating for an end to cannabis prohibition and fair regulation in discussions with the government.
“The 2020 draft of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill attempted to attach limits for the amount its authors perceived as sufficient for personal cultivation and use, without basing these limits on any concrete evidence. It did not consider the evidence around the various delivery methods of Cannabis and the amounts required. Neither did it show any recognition for the illogical grey areas it creates by keeping trade illegal. “
FGFA submitted commentary on the Bill, which is says “ ironically, directly opposes and hinders any of the objectives set out in the NCMP. “