Brandon Nel, Weekend Argus and Cannabiz Africa
The Western Cape says it's ready to develop a cannabis economy as part of its overall provincial agricultural strategy. But economists warn that central government is dragging its feet on creating the right regulatory environment.
The Western Cape is developing ‘CanPlan’, a strategy to roll-out the provincial cannabis economy. This was confirmed by Agriculture MEC Ivan Meyer in an interview with the Weekend Argus on 25 September 2022.
“We are currently developing a CanPlan for the Western Cape to take advantage of the huge international interest and new market opportunities,” said Meyer.
“When that plan is ready I will also develop an implementation plan for the rollout of cannabis farming for commercial use.”
MEC for finance, Mireille Wenger said she is also open to exploring cannabis as a means to stimulate the economy.
“We are committed to enabling the private sector to get on with their job of creating jobs ... this applies across the board, within the framework of the law, where opportunities exist, including exploring options around cannabis,” she said.
“However, the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes is regulated by SAHPRA (the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority) and not provinces.”
Economist and political analyst Dr Dale McKinley told the Weekend Argus that the time was ripe “for cannabis and hemp to become a major part of South Africa’s agricultural income”.
“It’s a no-brainer,” he said.
“It’s very concerning that the state and Parliament has been dragging its heels on this front, so it’s good to know that the Western Cape is moving forward with its plans in this regard.”
Trade expert, Ulrich Joubert said farming of cannabis would definitely be profitable for the province but it could take years for it to generate meaningful revenue.
“If the industry in the province starts to export cannabis to the rest of the world, it can surely grow the purse of the provincial government,” Joubert said.
“But it will take years before that level can and will be reached.”
However, economist Dawie Roodt does not share the same optimism around cannabis reflected by his colleagues. He told the Weekend Argus that adding cannabis to the local economy would not result in significantly more income for the province.
“Everyone these days wants to farm with cannabis. I don’t think that will have such a huge impact on the economy,” Roodt said.
“People are making an unnecessary hype over this dagga thing, but I really think it will not have a big impact ... but they can do it, let’s all get very high.”
The Western Cape’s agriculture sector is going strong, bolstered in part by a surge in fruit exports, according to the Provincial Economic Review and Outlook (Pero) tabled this week. Between 2012 and 2021 exports in the Western Cape expanded by 39.8%, of which the agriculture sector made the most significant contribution.
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