Another Step Towards a Legitimate Hemp Industry in SA

  Shale TInkler     2021-03-31   View all blog articles

The 30th of March saw what feels like a big step forward towards a legitimate industrial cannabis/hemp industry when a stakeholder meeting was held by DALRRD, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, on the progress made on the draft Cannabis Master Plan for South Africa.

31 – 03 – 21

While there was some frustration felt by many in the industry and civil society that public participation in this plan was coming so late, there was also appreciation for the clear progress and visible thought and consideration for the issues that are presented by the legitimizing of the cannabis industry.

The vision for the commercialization of hemp/industrial cannabis was clear, with some clear milestones around the necessary legislation changes and also the understanding of the processing and developmental support that would be necessary for the industry to thrive. We hope that this will translate into farmers being able to legally plant and grow cannabis for industrial purposes this year and will continue to push for this.

Cannabis is a complex issue with many diverse stakeholders and interests, so this is no small task, and the comment session post the presentation was lively and robust.

DALRRD also recognized that in contrast with their perceptions that the Cannabis sector is disorganized, there are many groups working together to help move this forward, including Fields of Green for All, Cannabis Trade Association of Africa and Cannabis Development Council.

The section of Responsible Adult Use of Cannabis was lacking in a clear way forward, but acknowledgement was given to the fact that this is tied up with the Private Use Bill that is still under consideration. It was conceded that a moratorium on arrests is being discussed and hopefully implemented.

We are encouraged by the work done by Government to get to this point, but will reiterate that engagement with the industry and civil society must go beyond window-dressing. As complicated as it may seem, all the diverse interests and points of view need to be considered without hampering the progress made of course. The way forward included the nomination of individuals to serve on task teams and provincial cannabis committees and we expect this to be done fairly and effectively.

We have lost many years of growth in this industry, and Hemporium will continue to push for enabling regulations that will allow South Africans to take advantage of the many benefits this plant can bring the nation.