Medical Cannabis industry takes off on a high note as Felbridge licensed to trade. Photo: AP

JOHANNESBURG – The Medical Cannabis industry takes off on a high note in the Western Cape as Felbridge, a local company with 50 years experience in hydroponic farming, has been awarded a licence to cultivate, import and export medicinal cannabis by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra).

Felbridge said on Tuesday that the licence covered an existing 46 272m² greenhouse facility located in the Western Cape and was expected to produce about 20 tons of dried cannabis products per annum at full production. 

The company, which has identified an additional 121 920m² greenhouse area for future expansion, expects to harvest its first crop in the first quarter of 2020 and has already embarked on the retro-fitting of its existing greenhouse infrastructure to make it specific for cannabis cultivation.

“The combination of a well-regulated industry and existing world class agricultural and pharmaceutical sectors, positions Felbridge, the Western Cape and South Africa as a global hub for the production of medical cannabis. The region’s climate, skills, infrastructure and people make for a perfect location to grow from.” said Felbridge chief executive Leslie Zetler.

Tim Harris the chief executive of Wesgro, the official tourism, trade and investment promotion agency for Cape Town and the Western Cape, said the region was uniquely positioned to become a hub for medicinal cannabis, especially with regard to research and development. 

“The medicinal cannabis industry brings together the region’s strengths for precision farming, excellent universities and research facilities, renowned healthcare services, and an emerging biotech ecosystem. We therefore welcome this license and look forward to seeing the industry grow”. he said.

Felbridge currently employ more than 550 employees and operate from five locations in the Western Cape.