Jehran Naidoo, IOL
Mayor Kaunda says the municipality should prepare itself for a full-scale commercial cannabis market and that this is part of the provincial agri-business plan
This report was first published by IOL on 8 November 2023.
The eThekwini (Durban) Municipality is encouraging residents to enter the commercial cannabis and hemp cultivation market to develop the agricultural sector and local economy.
The city recently issued an invitation to prospective farmers, indicating that hemp and cannabis seeds will be provided for a trial period.
It is understood that cannabis and hemp are one of five commodities in the agricultural sector that eThekwini plans on developing, including poultry and sheep farming.
eThekwini Mayor Mxolisi Kaunda said the programme will help prepare the sector should it enter a full-scale commercial market and be in alignment with South Africa’s evolving cannabis legislation.
The introduction of the programme will also give potential new farmers a chance to acclimatise themselves to the cannabis and hemp plants before their operation can be scaled, Kaunda said.
In 2018, one of the biggest jumps in cannabis legislation was made when the Constitutional Court backed a High Court order, which basically said private use of cannabis was permitted.
Commercial sales of the product were still illegal at the time.
Changes happened again when the South African Police Service (SAPS) earlier this year said they would be easing up on arrests made involving cannabis, according to SAPS spokesperson Athlende Mathe.
The new SAPS directive broke down what private property entailed and indicated that a cannabis user can consume the product in their vehicle, which is considered private property.
Traditional healers were also given a running leash, as they are allowed to dispense small quantities of cannabis.
“The eThekwini Agribusiness Master Plan has identified cannabis as one of the key commodities that must be supported and developed to promote the local economy and job creation.
“The Agribusiness Master Plan aims to attract investment of R1 billion over a ten-year period to unlock economic value worth R10 billion and create 10,000 new jobs.
“The focus will be on indigenous land-raised strains and exotic strains that can be indigenised into the local environment and grown in a controlled environment,” the mayor said.
Applicants interested in joining the programme will need to submit a number of documents, including their business plans, their organisation’s expertise and experience, and the financials behind the project, among other prerequisites.