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CANNABIS INDUSTRY 

BREAKING  NEWS

Garth Strachan: Cannabis To Be an Agricultural Product That Could Contribute R6 B – R25 B to SA’s GDP.

Garth Strachan: Cannabis To Be an Agricultural Product That Could Contribute R6 B – R25 B to SA’s GDP.

The Presidency’s cannabis consultant Garth Strachan says the knock-on effect of the new Cannabis for Private Purposes Act will be far-reaching legislative change that will ultimately see cannabis regulated by the Department of Agriculture as an agricultural crop. This is likely to add billions to the economy.

Cannabiz Africa/Max Matavire, Business Times

10 June 2024 at 13:00:00

In an interview with Business Times' Max Matavire on 6 June 2024, Strachan said that the legislation would go a long way towards alleviating poverty, “mainly in rural areas where small-scale farmers have long been cultivating cannabis illegally”.


Strachan, a consultant in the project management office in the Presidency, told BT that the CfPPA will enable the amendment of several other laws, notably:

  • the      Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act;

  • the      schedules to the Medicines and Related Substances Act;

  • the      Plant Breeders Rights Act; and

  • the      Plant Improvement Act.

Once the amendments are passed, cannabis will theoretically be defined as an agricultural product, regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD).  This is with the exception of cannabis intended for medical or wellness use which falls under the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s (SAHPRA) scheduling system. Cultivating and processing cannabis for trade will be allowed only under the SAHPRA through licences issued under the Medicines and Related Substances Act.


Although cannabis will be removed from the Drugs Act, it still has not been decriminalized.


The CfPPA merely takes over the punitive provisions from the Drug Act and home-growers could face 10 years jail-time for producing “traffickable quantities of cannabis”. There is an obvious anomaly here that will be challenged in court.


Nonetheless, as Cliffe Decker and Hofmeyer have pointed out the CfPPA holds promise for the agricultural sector, a view echoed by Strachan in his interview with Business Times, excerpts of which are below:


“South Africa has a crisis of rural poverty. The cultivation of cannabis, which was practised by rural indigenous communities for hundreds of years despite persecution under colonialism and apartheid, can be one avenue to create sustainable rural livelihoods. This could involve the aggregation of cannabis and hemp, and the use of the stalks and seeds for industrial applications.


“South Africa has significant competitive advantages [in terms of] climate, soil and latitude. The cannabis/hemp sector is a 'sunrise' one with high potential for investment, job creation and supporting sustainable rural livelihoods.”


He said industrial hemp had many uses. A whole-plant (seeds, flowers and stalks) approach meant it could be cultivated and processed to produce construction materials, meaning hemp could be used to make bricks and panels. A seven-storey hemp hotel had already been built in Cape Town using hemp concrete bricks.


Hemp could be used to produce woven and unwoven fabrics for manufacturing clothing, as well as cosmetics, hair products and a wide range of health items. The plant could also be used extensively in the paper, pulp and packaging industry.


“Removing the regulatory barriers for investment in hemp is a very significant step forward for South Africa, because it means the development of the high potential industrial hemp sector will be possible. 


Hemp can also be used to rehabilitate mining land. South Africa has many mines that do not have mine closure certificates and whose land has not been rehabilitated. Hemp can be used as a crop for mine rehabilitation and remediation.


“It is important that the government acts with urgency to remove the regulatory red-tape barriers to investment and job creation,” said Strachan.


While experts cannot put an immediate value to the cannabis industry or its contribution to GDP because “it’s not part of the national system of accounts”, Strachan said it could be worth anything between R6bn and R25bn.

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