Licensed cannabis grower Thandeka Kunene wants the name ‘Durban Poison’ back. Duncan Guy
Durban - The iconic weed brand, Durban Poison, is in foreign hands.

Dealers around the world are using the name and, as far as Thandeka Kunene is concerned, they are being greedy “in a thieving, ambushing way”.

Kunene, of Hemp House, which has a licence to grow medicinal cannabis, said the government could claim intellectual property rights to “Durban Poison”.

She stressed: “It belongs to us.

“We hope our government, which knows that we own Durban Poison in South Africa, can help us go to the World Intellectual Property Organisation and claim it.”

Kunene said over the years the cultivar was easy to come by and people gathered the seeds. She said other “selling strains” suffered the same fate.

They originate from Jamaica, Mexico, Afghanistan, Cameroon and Morocco, she said.

“But, in the meantime, we can just take what is there and improve it and export it, so it’s not completely lost.”

She was a speaker at a KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development information session this week at which hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs and farmers were told about the “green gold” sector, which is estimated will be worth $1.8billion (R26.5bn) by 2023.

“The UN suggests that South Africa produces 2300 tons of marijuana annually - making the country the third-largest producer of the plant and related products in Africa,” economic development MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube said.

“In addition, the African Cannabis Report of March 2019 published by Prohibition Partners estimates that by 2023, the total value of the South African cannabis industry will be about $1.8bn. This is based on the assumption that the government would move with speed with the regulation of the cannabis industry.”

Economists predict that by the end of 2025, the market would reach $146bn and that South Africa would be a major player.

“We all know that KwaZulu-Natal has the potential to become an enormous cannabis market.

“The favourable climate makes growing weed easier than in many other countries, especially in Europe.

“As the government, we don’t want ordinary members of society who have been involved in the planting of marijuana to be left behind.

“Our focus is ordinary communities in rural areas because they have a long history of growing and consuming cannabis - though they have been doing it illegally.

“Now that the government is opening up opportunities, we don’t want ordinary members of society to be marginalised.

“We want ogogo nomkhulu from uMsinga, Impendle, Mzimkhulu, eShowe and many other areas to be involved in the export of cannabis.”

At the gathering, held in Durban’s Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre, Mbuyiseni Maphalala, who has land in the Bergville area, said he dreamt of cannabis growing bringing about huge changes, “especially for the youth who are lazing around”.

He understood that a hectare of cannabis could provide work for 100 people.

“It’s the green gold of KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.

The Independent on Saturday