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CANNABIS INDUSTRY 

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W Cape Warns National Leadership Instability Could Affect Cannabis Policy Roll-Out

W Cape Warns National Leadership Instability Could Affect Cannabis Policy Roll-Out

National leadership instability could undermine cannabis reform and the industry could suffer from an oversupply. However, the Western Cape is well poised to benefit from the gradual legalization if it co-ordinated stake-holders across the value chain. These are some of the assesments contained in the Province’s CanPlan.

Kaiser EDP and Ignited Unlimited

26 April 2023 at 04:00:00

The CanPlan, drawn up by Kaiser EDP and Ignited Unlimited for the Western Cape’s Department of Agriculture, included a look at the province’s cannabis industry from what’s known as a PESTOLE approach to gauging risk (Political, Economic, Sociological, Technological, Organizational, Legal and Environmental). It was released by the Department on 29 March 2023.

Political:

• A Cannabis Master Plan has been developed by government, but progress on the finalization, acceptance and implementation have been stalled. The plan is viewed by various role players as incoherent and not inclusive enough. Jurisdiction over the implementation of the plan stretches across multiple government departments with a history of operating within silos

• National political and leadership instability could affect national policy

• Substance abuse is a big factor in the Western Cape, with alcohol being the biggest problem. Focus on this by the Western Cape Cabinet are considered

• Western Cape is politically stable

• Lack of clear Cannabis policies by the political parties hampers progress and collaboration within provincial and national government departments • Divergent views on Cannabis exist – some supporting full legalization, some showing concern over substance abuse in general and others fully prohibitionist.

• South Africa is a signatory of the UN Single Convention of Narcotic Drugs and government are honouring this agreement, while many signatories are circumventing or ignoring it (e.g., Canada, Uruguay, soon Germany)

• Strong pressures exist to address unemployment and economic conditions in the country – this sets unrealistic expectations from new industries

• Tensions often exist between economic, social, cultural and environmental imperatives Economic

• High unemployment in SA and W Cape

• Inflationary pressures both in South Africa and globally, impacting on consumer spending and disposable income, food security etc.

• Global period of economic uncertainty and disruption of supply chains etc.

• Political instability and market conditions causing instability in the Rand making it difficult to determine local pricing equivalents and affecting input costs of imported material.

• The Cannabis and Hemp industry can provide a valuable contribution the economic ills of the country

• Varying economics exist across the value chain:

o Medicinal Cannabis is farmed intensively with high yields and industrial hemp extensively with lower yield.

o Variable pricing for exist for carbon sequestering products like biochar. It is possible that hemp biochar will command a premium in the market.

o The informal market (still illegal in most formats) is currently more lucrative than most aspects of the legal Cannabis industry.

o Retail pricing of recreational Cannabis is based on local supply and demand factors, with big differences across clubs and different regions.

• Prices of all forms of Cannabis is dropping rapidly internationally and locally, with a halving happening every 3 years.

• Risks exist of global overproduction leading to a glut in Cannabis and related products that could collapse markets.

• Changing global production patterns could provide opportunities for local producers as there is a renewed focus on Africa and the global south. This could also put further downward pressure on pricing as Cannabis and hemp is grown in areas with lower production costs and favorable currencies.

Sociological

• South Africa has a long history of Cannabis cultivation and consumption for recreational, medicinal, and spiritual uses.

* The Western Cape is rich in traditional and indigenous knowledge on the healing properties, integrative healing practices, wellness, and spiritual wellbeing that full spectrum (whole plant) Cannabis can provide.

• Changing mindsets and awareness exist around the environment, wellness and health that mostly support greater use of natural products and more environmentally friendly products and services

• Social structures in the Western Cape are complex and leads to inequalities which brings pressures such as substance abuse, gangsterism and general apathy and dissatisfaction from the youth.

• Many societies in the Western Cape and country are reliant on the income provided by illegal Cannabis. These communities could be left destitute by their inability to integrate into the legal industry due to barriers of entry.

Technological

• Innovation has led to various technologies being available in the Western Cape. These include:

o Genetic development and clonal propagation

o Cannabis specific analytical laboratories catering for the compliance and safety needs of the industry.

o Medicinal Cannabis production – innovative and intelligent lighting, climate control, nutrient scheduling, irrigation and holistic facility design is needed for consistent compliant production of medicinal Cannabis.

o Decortication and fibre processing – Internationally huge strides have been made here, but no local processing is happening yet. A producer of hemp construction material in the Western Cape are in the final phases of building a decorticator. No milling of natural fibre is happening in the country currently.

o Technologies relating to medical devices and a variety of delivery methods, including inhalers, transdermal patches and nanotechnology increasing the bioavailability of active ingredients exist in the Western Cape.

o Internationally developed track and trace software and IOT devices are available and being implemented locally. Little local development is taking place here and Afro-centric solutions are required.

o Packaging and labelling technology

o Existing technology from other industries can be adapted and applied to Cannabis and hemp. These include cell disruption, dewatering, shredding and recycling.

• Scaling, open access and the financial input required is a barrier to advances in technology in Cannabis. Development is mostly happening in silos.

• The Western Cape has an established chemical manufacturing industry that can be tapped into for research and development of hemp by-products and beneficiation of the waste stream.

• A well-developed food technology sector exists

• Agricultural equipment manufacturing and adaptation is available in most farming areas, with innovative improvements being made to existing imported machinery in many cases.

Organisational

• Numerous initiatives to organise the industry (Cannabis Community Council, Cannabis Industry Development Co-Operative Western Cape, Friends of Hemp, Cannabis Trade Association Africa, Cannabis Industry Development Association of South Africa)

• Established networks within both the informal and formal parts of the industry

• Fragmented and under-resourced industry associations

• Silos between line departments and line regulators

• Coordination gaps between provincial and national government

• Institutional capacity within the Western Cape government

• Different levels of capacity between municipalities to support an emerging/formalising industry

Legal

• Medicinal Cannabis licensing through SAHPRA since 2017

• Clear guidelines and enabling conditions for the export and import of Cannabis, supply by licensed growers into the local market and the infusion of food and beverages is still lacking.

• Constitutional court ruling in September 2018 permitted private production and consumption of Cannabis. Parliament been given 2 years to rectify the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act but is already 2 and a half years beyond this.

• Arrests and harassment of Cannabis users and growers are continuing because all forms of Cannabis is still illegal under the Drugs and Drug Trafficking act, even after amendments to the act and scheduling have been made in December 2022.

• The legitimacy of Cannabis Private and Social Clubs are being challenged by government in the court.

• Hemp permits issued by DALRRD under the Plant Improvement Act since 2022.

• Notice prohibiting phytochemical extraction (including CBD) under hemp permit

• No guidelines exist for the commercialization of hemp derived food, medicine, cosmetics or pet products, restrictions on inclusion of CBD in food and cosmetics in terms of Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act

• Lack of national standards exist for industrial hemp products e.g., construction, marine manufacturing, and some exclusions e.g. construction insulation

• Draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill has gone through various alterations and is now before the parliamentary committee. Allowance made for commercialization and the inclusion of traditional and religious communities.

Environmental

• Water scarcity in the Western Cape

• Climate change which may impact on further water scarcity, changing temperatures (although may also improve suitability of temperatures for Cannabis and hemp production in the Western Cape)

• Sub-optimal growing conditions for Cannabis and hemp in the Western Cape

• Soil remediation and improvement needs that could be supported by hemp production

• Threats to biodiversity – habitat loss, alien invasives, encroachment, expansion of agriculture, overharvesting of indigenous plants, pesticides, insecticides

• Hemp and Cannabis derived natural medicine can provide an alternative to wild harvesting of plants with similar therapeutic benefits.

• Hemp can provide large amounts of biomass to be used in carbon sequestering

• Indoor cultivation of Cannabis is detrimental to the environment with huge energy needs, a large waste stream and the abundant use of sterilising agents and pesticides.

• Hemp has a soil rejuvenating effect, with farmers being able to grow years of successive crops on the same land.

• Hemp can play a big role in current crop rotation systems, especially in regenerative agriculture. 

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