South Africa’s leading business publication has urged the Government to speed up the commercialization of the trade of cannabis and related products in order to boost small business and empower legacy growers.
This editorial is from Business Day on 17 November 2023.
The passage of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill through the National Assembly last week was an important step in getting SA’s legislative regime to comply with the constitution. It has taken the department of justice and parliament about five years since the 2018 Constitutional Court judgment on the use of cannabis for private purposes to get to this stage.
Equally snail-paced has been the formulation of laws legalising the commercialisation of cannabis, the sale and distribution of which remains prohibited except for specific circumstances such as for medical use, which is heavily regulated.
Numerous studies have highlighted the multibillion-rand potential of the cannabis industry for the SA economy and for job creation. But there has been little by way of update on the implementation of the National Cannabis Master Plan initiated by the government in 2021.
President Cyril Ramaphosa has extolled the virtues of the industry, reiterating in his February state of the nation address the commitment made by the government in 2022 to unlock investment in the hemp and cannabis sector.
“We are moving to create the conditions for the sector to grow,” he said in his February speech. “Urgent work is being finalised by the government to create an enabling regulatory framework for a whole plant, all legitimate purposes approach for complementary medicines, food, cosmetics and industrial products aligned to international conventions and best practices.”
That was February. We have not seen any discernible results of this “urgent” work, which is needed to boost the sector, thereby possibly assisting traditional cannabis farmers and small enterprises.