Ship of Fools: New Plant Improvement Act Limits THC Levels in Hemp to 0,2% Despite Every Expert Saying This is a Bad, Bad, Very Bad, Bad Idea!
The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development is the lead partner in the National Cannabis Master Plan. The NCMP has prioritized the development of a local hemp industry as one of the key drivers in unlocking a new cannabis economy. And yet DALLRD has gazetted regulations that undermine a potential hemp industry from the get-go. Like, what’s going on?
30 September 2022, 15:00:00
Why do you think DALRRD has ignored the advice of the CSIR, the Agricultural Research Council, Friends of Hemp SA and every single other hemp industry stakeholder who have politely pointed out that it’s unrealistic to set THC levels in hemp at 0,2% because local climatic conditions have a “THC spike” and that a 1% limit would be more feasible?
Either they know what they are doing or they don't. And the answer to either is unsettlng.
The THC limit fiasco in hemp is just the latest of a series of alarming developments regarding the development of a cannabis economy as Government loses cohesion on a number of policy levels.
The appointment of former Trade and Industry deputy director general Garth Strachan to the position of a cannabis advisor to the President without the requisite powers to shift policy, is a joke. Strachan, who’s now over 100 days into his job, is in the unenviable position of having achieved zero impact and is witnessing cannabis reform go backwards.
And actually, what’s the point of having him there at all if he’s so ineffectual?
On taking on his job at the beginning of May 2022, his priority was two-fold:
•Fix the regulatory environment for a commercial cannabis framework, and
•Sort out the right THC levels for hemp;
As of 30 September 2022:
•The Drugs and Drug Trafficking Amendment Bill of 2022 has been passed by Parliament’s Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee (without considering one shred of public input) that continues to define cannabis as a narcotic; the Committee has now entered the interesting legal space of passing contradictory pieces of legislation as the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill allows for the future commercial trade in cannabis products whereas the Drugs Trafficking Act does not. Strachan's sensible call for one over-arching piece of cannabis legislation has been lost in the idiot wind.
•DALRRD’s endorsement of a 0,2% THC definition of hemp flies in the face of every single piece of advice it has received and compounds the perception that stupidity is the guiding principle in the Department. The recently released provisions of the Plant Improvement Act, which set THC limits in hemp at 0,2% is a crazy own goal: all our neighbours are looking at a 1% THC limit, and yet South Africa remains beholden unto a cut-and-paste cannabis policy that is bereft of imagination and competence.
So how is Strachan justifying his job?
South Africa published on 10 June 2022 in the Government Gazette, the new Regulations relating to the Plant Improvement Act 11 of 2018 (the PIA) now include rules and procedures for hemp cultivation in South Africa. This has followed a Declaration, published in the 20 May 2022 edition of the Government Gazette, wherein hemp varieties have now been included as protectable varieties in terms of the Plant Breeder’s Rights Act 15 of 1976.
Here, hemp is defined as “low THC plants or parts of plants of Cannabis sativa L. cultivated for agricultural or industrial purposes, of which the leaves and flowering heads do not contain more than 0.2% THC”.
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Cannabis in South Africa: The People’s Plant
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