Cape Town - Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza wants to pave the way for the industrialisation and commercialisation of cannabis as a way to boost the economy.
Tabling her budget in Parliament Didiza said she was hoping to present the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) with a cannabis master plan “before the end of May.”
Didiza said: “The department will, as of October 2021, begin issuing and monitoring permits for the production of hemp in South Africa.
“An interdepartmental team comprising representatives from various departments was established to guide the development of the national cannabis master plan with the department as the convener.”
Among the other entities involved are the departments of Health; Trade Industry and Competition; SAPS, provincial legislatures and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).
Asked when exactly the presentation would happen, departmental spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo said: “The presentation to Nedlac has not taken place. The department has sent a request to make a presentation and it’s still awaiting a confirmation of the date.”
Back in July 2019 the Cabinet resolved that there was a need to have a national strategy for industrialisation and commercialisation of cannabis in order to increase economic growth, create jobs and poverty alleviation.
The draft master plan focuses on both hemp and dagga and key objectives include setting up an inclusive, sustainable and globally competitive cannabis industry in South Africa and increasing the capacity of South African farmers to produce both dagga and hemp.
Meanwhile, Wesgro has taken the lead in developing the broader Cape Town area as the foremost cannabis hub in the country by facilitating R170 million in investment
On its website Wesgro said: “The Western Cape region in particular has already attracted significant investor interest based not only upon its strength in agriculture, but also because Cape Town is fast becoming Africa’s leader in pharmaceutical research and development, as well as health- and biotech.”
However, according to SAHPRA chief executive Dr Boitumelo Semete, the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes requires strict control, as South Africa is a signatory to international treaties that prohibit the production and supply of narcotic and psychotropic drugs.