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Natie Ferreira’s Hemp Frustration: Mr President! What is This Agricultural Crop Doing Back in the Justice Cluster?’

Police clearance for hemp farmers has not got off to a promising start

Master cannabis grower Natie Ferreira of Tamatie has written an open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa saying the SAPS has been sitting on his new hemp permit application since December and this is the first of three seasons in which he hasn’t been able to legally plant. Known as one of South Africa’s master growers, Ferreira posted his open letter on 21 March 2022, saying that he hoped the letter would find the President, and find him well.

 

“For me, as an aspiring hemp and cannabis farmapreneur in South Africa, things are not so well, in case you were asking. Our cupboards and stomachs are empty. No longer can we feed our families on false hope and empty promises. Yet we soldier on, believing in our hearts in the benefit that this plant can bring to humanity.

 

He pointed out that the President had referred to cannabis in his previous three State of the Nation (SONA) speeches:  “And once again, our hunger pains are stilled by real hope. It is, after all, you – our president – speaking. Someone we as a nation grew very fond of, as you – the Patriarch of our people – guided us through the wilderness of COVID-19. We so want to believe you this time, but recent experience makes this very hard to do.”

 

Hemp application process more cumbersome than before it was streamlined!

Ferreira wrote that it was with great excitement that he applied for a new hemp permit when the process opened in October last year. 

 

“We expected to deal with a streamlined department that is used to deadlines and working under pressure. Different work styles caused much frustration, but a set of approved applications were in December submitted to the police for authorisation. The police, Mr President! What is this agricultural crop doing back in the hands of the justice cluster? It should be no surprise to you that it has been stuck in Minister Cele’s department for the past two months. Once again, my stomach growls on empty promises. And another season has gone. The first season in 3 that we were not allowed to plant hemp…”

 

Justice Dept continues to criminalize cannabis despite Government’s attempts to create a cannabis economy

Ferreira wrote that the Justice department seemed hell bent on criminalizing cannabis through the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill which proposed severe penalties for what the courts had deemed a constitutional right. This left open the vacuum for various interpretations of the Constitutional Court ruling to hit the South African market. 

 

“Many of my colleagues have chosen the route of providing access to cannabis through legal interpretations of a combined version of the proposed Cannabis bill and the Constitutional Court ruling.  They operate their versions of this with the knowledge that mere semantics could mean the difference between their next appointment being with their private banker or their defence attorney. 

 

“A court case supposed to clarify this matter (Editors note – the THC case) is not being brought before the courts with the can being kicked down a seemingly never-ending road. My colleagues in the therapeutic side of cannabis were once again forced into hiding, healing the nation underground. The proposed new Bill could lock them away in prison for 15 years with their children disappearing into our crumbling welfare system. 

 

“While the stores soon filled with a confusing range of seemingly legal CBD products claiming a range of health benefits that can, scientifically, only be ascribed to whole-plant cannabis medicine. These products soon proved to be badly labelled, overpriced, and ineffective, yet legal. Other colleagues have chosen the route of education, bringing brilliant products uncomfortably into a market where there is no certainty that a student’s qualification will get them a legitimate job. Some of my enthusiastic colleagues who chose to practice a hobby they have a constitutional right to, are still being harassed by police, and the number of arrests and illegal incarcerations is increasing, not decreasing. All of this is playing out while rural farmers that have lived off the proceeds of (illegally) selling this plant for generations now find themselves without customers for six months, and no one remembering the raw potential of African cannabis.

 

Ferreira suggests a Cannabis Ministry within the Presidency

He wrote that the 2018 Concourt ruling was a game-changer:  “We still remember our elation when news of the ruling started to spread across the nation. ‘Surely this ruling will pave the way for a legal cannabis industry’- we all thought. Big was our disillusionment when we heard that Government is going to appeal the ruling, using our own tax money against us. This appeal was later dismissed and Government given two years to comply with the ruling”. 

 

Ferreria asked President Ramaphosa to take cannabis “seriously”and to “legalize and enable” the new industry. Cannabis reform was becoming less streamlined than it was before, particularly around hemp permit applications. He said a new Cannabis Ministry within the Presidency might be the answer, but something needed to be done because Government was currently all over the place in terms of cannabis reform.

 

“Are you aware that your entire cabinet is now in contempt of court? The Medicines Act tried to comply by some complicated and ridiculous cannabinoid scheduling, but at least removed the plant in its entirety from the Act” said Ferreira.

 

“We will normalise cannabis through an industry-regulated network guided by partnering with Government. A Government hopefully guided by science, and not political or ideological views. And certainly not guided by those set to pursue the pilfering that you so desperately try to eradicate. Nobody in history has died from consuming cannabis, we want to keep it that way.”

Ferreira said he knew that signing such a letter to the President could carry risk.

 

About Tamatie.co.za

“I am Natie Ferreira. As the grandson of a vegetable farmer, I have been gardening and growing food my whole life, with a career that has spanned the horticulture, landscaping and agriculture industries since 2000. My ability to deep-dive into rabbit-holes in my interest fields has led me down the paths of biohacking, healthy living, biodynamics, permaculture, and more specifically Cannabis in all its forms.

 

While I don’t always agree with those who call me a “master grower”, I do admit to having a natural ability to grow good Cannabis. The many wonders of this plant should never be limited to recreation and medicine alone. Think fresh produce, fodder for livestock, building material, textiles, phytoremediation of contaminated sites, biomass for energy, and more.

 

I am involved in the Cannabis-related industries of retail, analytics, food, medicine, processing technology, agriculture, indigenous knowledge systems, tourism, genetics, and through this brand, also media.”

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