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Cannabiz Africa’s Quick Background to Hemp in SA

Read about hemp in South Africa


  • Hemp cultivation remains illegal in SA except to those who have been issued permits;


  • The Agricultural Research Council has been conducting hemp trials since 1999; 


  • Two cultivars have been identified as suitable for local conditions – SA Hemp 1 and SA Hemp 2 – yet neither has been registered or is available in any volume; 


  • Hemp permits currently fall between two government departments doubling the required red tape instead of minimizing it; although Agriculture is in charge of issuing new hemp licenses, Health still has to give the initial thumbs up;


  • The Agriculture Minister has promised new hemp permits will be issued by October 2021, but;


  • The department says the SAPHRA must first issue a Section 22 license (the turnaround time being dependent on the readiness of the facility), and only then will Agriculture assess whether hemp permit applicants are compliant – and has helpfully committed to a two-month approval/disapproval turnaround time;


  • The Industrial Development Council says the barriers to entry to hemp farming are too high to make the industry viable; fencing compliance is a particular problem;


  • The private sector is uncomfortable putting money into a plant that’s still classified as a narcotic;


  • Many prospective hemp farmers have lost significant capital by investing in the industry ahead of the slow pace of regulatory reform;


  • Traditional cannabis farmers in the Eastern Cape have indicated they would rather work with the high THC strains they are growing than switch to lower-value hemp;


  • These illegal farmers are also concerned that growing hemp in the eastern Cape will lead to cross-pollination with their high THC strains;


  • Big problem! Southern Africa may not be able to even grow hemp within the required 0,2% THC levels because of our natural growing conditions which will boost THC content beyond the farmer’s control;


  • Everyone agrees that the one law standing in the way of everything is the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act which prevents the use of the “whole plant”; and Cannabiz Africa understands there is a legal challenge underway seeking to prevent the Minister from having personal authority to change the Act;


  • The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, which is intended to clarify the legal standing of cannabis, is in a parliamentary limbo;


  • the Department of Justice has been absent from most of the cannabis industry debates, and the police have asked for clarity on how to distinguish hemp from other cannabis during field operations, and in the meantime continue to do as they please;

One Response

  1. If I remember correctly , SA Hemp 1 and SA Hemp 2 are from Czech republic, there were several law suits about IP of the strain. I currently live about 500 metres from the first hemp trial. It was a huge failure, everything was stolen, including the fencing. 20 plus years of hemp trials and we still importing raw material.

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