The Gauteng Government is in favour of a regulated adult-use cannabis market and wants to bring illegal farmers and dealers into the mainstream economy. It has rejected the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill and has called on central government to urgently change anti-drug laws to allow the commercialization of cannabis.
Gauteng rejects Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill
This emerged during the Gauteng government’s webinar on cannabis investment on 22 September 2021, where high ranking officials from agriculture and economic development unveiled the province’s bold cannabis plans.
Gauteng’s MEC for Agriculture, Parks Tau, had a message delivered on his behalf, in which he said South Africa had fallen seven years behind the United States and Canada because of the law. There was an opportunity for South Africa to catch-up with the right cannabis framework in place, but anti-drug laws had to be changed urgently.
“The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill and the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act do not make allowance for a cannabis economy. Industrialization remains prohibited at the moment”.
He said that Gauteng had identified cannabis as one of 10 economic drivers in the province with two “cannabis innovation hubs” to be established – in the Vaal Triangle and West Rand.
Gauteng wanted cannabis to be part of a township development strategy to create employment and infrastructure investment would target poorer areas. Tau said although Gauteng wanted to be a net cannabis exporter, only the development of a local market would create jobs. Government officials concede the domestic market is already there and instead of replacing illegal cannabis farmers with legal ones, their strategy is to recognize both and provide them with support.
Financing could include grants to illegal farmers
Tau said he would consider facilitating grants for illegal cannabis farmers to improve the quality of their production and they would be supported by agricultural extension services.
Getting straight to the heart of the matter, he messaged: “Can we not scale up industrialization which does not destroy existing indigenous farmers and traders?”
Province to set up own cannabis seed-bank and education programme
Tau said that in anticipation of the law changing Gauteng was:
- looking at setting up a cannabis seed-bank and developing new hemp and cannabis cultivars suited for outdoor farming;
- investigating mechanisms for financing the industry that would centre on grants for small-scale farmers;
- developing formal and informal training for cannabis growers;
- intending to introduce cannabis education into the school curriculum;
He said the Gauteng government’s priorities are to
- Co-ordinate development between the different stakeholders in the industry
- Create enabling legislation to fuel growth;
- Facilitate investment, particularly in the special economic zones
- Develop black industrialists and empower the poor;
- Create agri-processing facilities that small farmers can supply