Cape Town - It is a question of time before cannabis is fully integrated into our economy.
This is according to the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa (CDCSA) following a Constitutional Court ruling that legalised the home use and cultivation of dagga.
The Concourt ordered that Parliament must amend the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act.
In a statement, Parliament said this could mean introducing a new bill.
Selling and public use of dagga remains illegal.
CDCSA spokesperson Neil Webster said the ruling on the private cultivation and use of cannabis was an important first step in legitimising the plant.
“The cannabis plant has been marginalised in South Africa, and its benefits have not been allowed to accrue to our people, especially the poor.
“Private use in our homes is a stepping stone to the development of a full cannabis economy,” he said.
Webster said the organisation was facing a challenge of how it can assist the government to develop an enabling legislative framework to ensure that the potential economic opportunities are extended to the poor and marginalised of our society.
He said the Medicines Control Council had already sent proposals for the industrial propagation of medicinal cannabis which should be the first commercial aspect identified.
Webster said a hectare of hemp with average yields under good growing conditions could provide about R805 000 in agricultural value; this would include R600 000 worth of cannabidiol - a non-psychoactive dietary supplement that could help seizures.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Minister Senzeni Zokwana’s spokesperson, Khaya Nkwanyana, said the department recognised developments around the world where various countries decriminalised dagga, for medicinal use, recreational purposes or both.
The DAFF is said to be leading an inter-departmental team, along with the Health Department, and developing a new regulatory framework for hemp.
“Much progress had been made in terms of dealing with technical matters regarding production of hemp, research and technology development, commercial feasibility and other related matters,” said Nkwanyana.
African Christian Democratic Party leader Kenneth Meshoe called for Parliament to hold an urgent debate on the ruling. “The ACDP and the majority of South Africans do not want dagga decriminalised and legalised for pri- vate use, given the high number of young people who are battling drug addiction.
“It’s important for Parliament to make its position known as soon as possible,” he said.
“Parliament has to consult members of the public and determine whether this ruling is in the best interests of our people. This ruling contradicts the efforts of the government and the South African society to deal with drug addiction and crime in our country,” Meshoe said.