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South Africa: Now a High Court Challenge Looming to Legalize Hemp

Read about hemp in South Africa


Change the law to define hemp as an agricultural crop and not a drug. That’s the basic message that is to be taken to the High Court by non-profit organization Friends of Hemp, which is campaigning to to legalize hemp in South Africa. 

FoH is raising funds to lodge an application for a High Court declaratory order to allow hemp cultivation and processing in order to unlock the economic benefits. 


World of Hemp is Leaving SA Behind

FoH co-founder Sophie Richter says “South Africa is being left behind by the rest of the world. While we prohibit the participation of our citizens in the hemp economy, we allow for the import of hemp-based products into South Africa and the export of value abroad. This surely cannot be the vision of cannabis development by the President of the Republic.


In a statement received by Cannabiz Africa on 4 June 21, FoH said :

  • Hemp is the non-psychoactive form of cannabis that has been used by humans for millenia;
  • About 25 000 different products across different industries can be made from hemp;
  • The global hemp market is estimated at a conservative R70 billion; expected to rise to nearly R580 billion in the next five years
  • Hemp cultivation on 250 000 ha could create up to 200 000 jobs in farming, processing and manufacturing, and other services


Decriminalize hemp to open up the economy

FoH says it seeks to “decriminalize hemp in order to leverage South Africa’s unique value proposition to become a force in the rapidly expanding global hemp industry, while also contribute to commerce development efforts so desperately required in the post-Covid economic recovery.

“Without prejudice to other meaningful causes that we support, this particular legal action will unlock the fundamental stumbling block and obstacle to the South African hemp/cannabis industry”.

FoH points out that although hemp is a sub-species of C sativa which can also produce psychoactive strains, it has never been listed as a narcotic at the United Nations.

“Hemp is not listed, and has never been listed, as a controlled substance under the international UN Conventions that govern the regulation of narcotics. However, the South African government does not have a specific definition of hemp as distinct from dagga/cannabis, nor a definition of dagga itself. It considers the ‘whole plant, and any part thereof” as a narcotic under the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992, thereby unreasonably and unjustifiably criminalizing hemp.


SA drug legislation is out of alignment with court rulings

“This legislation is inconsistent with recent changes to the Medicines Act and mis-aligned with scientific evidence, legal precedents and actions of our neighbours and international counterparts.

“Many countries have taken the opportunity to invest in hemp industries, creating meaningful jobs, upskilling and repurposing labour, reinvigorating their industrial landscapes and ensuring that their citizens have access to tools that can help them shape a self-sufficient and brighter future. South African citizens, however, are denied the same opportunity to earn a legitimate livelihood”.

FoH represents a broad cross-section of citizens from the private sector, research institutions, government and civic organizations

About Friends of Hemp South Africa

Friends of Hemp South Africa is an broad-based alliance of South African citizens (i.e. across the private sector, research institutions, government, NGOs/CSO, associations etc.) concerned about the prevention and criminalization of industrial hemp in our country. Set up as a non-profit organisation (NPO), our effort is driven by a desire to unlock the economic and socio-economic potential of industrial hemp and to provide South Africans the option to earn a legitimate livelihood from a recognized agricultural/industrial crop


friends of hemp 


Our work focuses on three areas

  1. Legal Challenge: leading a legal challenge to the current laws that criminalise industrial hemp (i.e. the Drug and Drug Trafficking Act of 1972) and the arbitrarily define hemp (i.e. the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965, as amended in 2020).
  2. Advocacy and Influencing: working alongside government and agencies to provide policy and legislative advice aligned with a hemp industry that serves the needs of South Africans and that drives job and value creation, and competitiveness;
  3. General Awareness: providing general information and education about hemp and convening various fora to stimulate production and collaborative debate and discussion about South Africa’s hemp future and needs.


Our current campaign seeks to raise funds to support the legal action we are pursuing to have industrial hemp redefined as an agricultural crop (instead of a drug). Without prejudice to other meaningful causes, this particular legal action will unlock the fundamental stumbling block in and obstacle to the development of the South African cannabis/hemp industry.


OUR MISSION – Declaring Hemp an Agricultural Crop!


Friends of Hemp South Africa began in 2020 with a simple idea that’s grown into an incredible opportunity to make a real impact. To do so, we’ve decided to reach out and get the support of those who believe in our vision. If you choose to join us, you’ll be taking a step towards real change. If you have any questions about what we are trying to do or the ways in which you can contribute, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Contact Friends of Hemp

Almero Bourbon –

Visit their site here

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