Cannabiz Africa/Linda Ensor
President Cyril Ramaphosa says “considerable progress” has been made in developing the cannabis and hemp industries and that a special finance team is putting together a public and private sector blended financing instrument to support investment across the sector.
Replying to a question from DA MP Carin Visser in the National Council of Provinces, President Cyril Ramaphosa, said the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) had to date issued:
83 cannabis licences,
four manufacturing licences, and
30 research permits.
The Department of Agriculture, land reform and rural development had issued 371 hemp permits.
“These licences and permits have enabled significant investment, employment creation, the application of technology, intellectual property development and exports to highly competitive global markets,” he said.
The following report is by Linda Ensor and was published in Business Day on 28 March 2023.
In his 2023 state of the nation address Ramaphosa reiterated the government’s commitment made 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 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.”
Work was being undertaken to develop a competitive strategy to identify where SA has competitive and comparative advantage, Ramaphosa told Visser. Also, a team of financial experts has been appointed to develop a public and private sector blended financing instrument to support investment across the sector. In addition, the Industrial Development Corporation has established a dedicated sector fund supporting investments in the sector.
Given the complexity of the legislative regime for hemp and cannabis cultivation and processing — the applicable legislation is the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, the Medicines and Related Substances Act and the Plant Improvement Act — legal work will be undertaken to understand the longer term regulatory and legislative reform necessary to enable comprehensive and overarching legislation.
Ramaphosa said the department of science and innovation and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) had undertaken a research map of all tertiary institutions involved in hemp and cannabis research to support the sector’s development.
The department of small business development and the CSIR had launched an incubation programme with 30 SMMEs to assist these businesses to develop prototype technologies and intellectual property for product manufacture in the areas of cosmetics, food, complimentary medicines and African traditional medicines, he said. The CSIR has also bought catalytic equipment, which is being installed at the Ngqura special economic zone to process the primary agricultural product for downstream demand.
Ramaphosa also said the government was working with several mining companies to explore the potential use of hemp for mine rehabilitation and remediation. Two pilot projects are under way .