The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) has published a reworked Plant Improvement Act that is out of step with the Presidency’s The Phakisa initiative.
In a circular released on 29 September 2023, DALRRD issued guidelines for hemp permits specifying a THC limit of 0,2% in terms of defining “hemp” . This runs counter to The Phakisa’s intention to classify South Africa’s landraces as “industrial cannabis” no matter what the THC percentage levels are.
This means that for the foreseeable future, South Africa’s industrial cannabis industry remains constrained by the PIA. The amended version of the Act states that no planting of industrial cannabis can be undertaken without a “valid hemp permit” that comes with a lot of red tape.
Any person, who intends to become involved in the hemp industry, must be aware of the following:
1. No activity may be undertaken without a valid Hemp Permit in terms of Plant Improvement Act (PIA).
2. Any type of business as defined in the PIA, that conducts business with hemp plants or propagating material for cultivation purposes, must be registered and be in possession of a valid registration certificate; no exemptions are applicable on hemp businesses.
3. Copy of analytical report must always accompany hemp propagating material and harvested material (with clear traceability in relation to the material concerned);
4. Compulsory authorisation for import of hemp propagating material in addition to the import permit for phytosanitary purposes, for both listed and unlisted varieties;
5. Compulsory transport declaration must accompany distribution of hemp propagating material and harvested material;
6. Compulsory varietal listing for Hemp varieties (cultivars);
7. Compulsory certification of hemp plants and propagating material;
8. Clear understanding of the provisions and requirements of the PIA;
Cannabis varieties with THC levels more than 0.2% are subject to the provisions of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965 (Act No. 101 of 1965) and the Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act, 1992 (Act No. 140 of 1992);
It further states:
Any person who wants to engage in any of the following activities relating to hemp must be in possession of a Hemp Permit issued by the Registrar of the Plant Improvement Act:
1. Import of plants or propagating material for breeding, research or cultivation;
2. Propagation of plants by a breeder or researcher in relation to a breeding or research programme to develop new or improved hemp varieties;
3. Sale of hemp seed, seedlings, plants or cuttings;
4. Cultivation of hemp for-
· seed production;
· seedling production;
· production of grain or material for industrial purposes;
Cleaning and/or conditioning seed for cultivation; and
Export of plants or propagating material for cultivation purposes.
The hemp permit is valid for a period of 5 years and not transferable to another person.
If there is any change in information contained in the permit, the registrar must be notified within 30 days of the occurrence of the change to avoid revocation of the permit.
Requirements for applicant (holder) of a hemp permit:
1. must be 18 years or older
2. have knowledge of the PIA requirements and offences as well as related legislation dealing with Cannabis and cannabis components
3. 5.3 Activities relating to hemp may only be conducted on the locations indicated on the permit.
4. 5.4 If the activities are conducted on rented premises, written consent from the owner of the land must be obtained and ensured that the conditions attached to the permit are adhered to at all times.
5. 5.5 The Registrar reserves the right to exercise his/her discretion to -
a. Amend the permit and/or conditions, as appropriate and applicable.
b. Revoke the permit in the event of breach of any permit conditions or requirements.
A register for planting, sampling, sales and inspections must be kept on the premises.
Applications must be submitted to:
or physically at
Harvest House Building, Office no. 311, 30 Hamilton Street, Arcadia, Pretoria.