Potential of hemp and cannabis must be unlocked to create jobs - City of Cape Town
Cape Town - it is high time that the potential of hemp and cannabis is unlocked to create jobs, and the City of Cape Town will be at the forefront of creating the right environment for residents to benefit from this emerging sector, the city said on Sunday.
Worldwide legal cannabis spending will exceed US40 billion by 2024, according to BDS Analytics, mayoral committee member for economic opportunities and asset management James Vos said in a statement.
"This industry has massive potential for growth and the City of Cape Town will explore all avenues to ensure that our residents benefit from this potential," he said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa recognised this in his state of the nation address this past week, and said “This year, we will open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products, providing opportunities for small-scale farmers; and formulate policy on the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes...”
Cape Town had already attracted significant investor interest based not only on its strength in agriculture, but also because Cape Town was fast becoming Africa’s leader in pharmaceutical research and development and biotech. Wesgro, one the city’s special business partners, had been conducting research to seek out investment in this key high-growth sector, Vos said.
Through the property management department, the city prioritised smart land transactions to unlock socio-economic growth and development. The city council had already released several parcels of land in Atlantis for purchase by the private sector for the production of medical cannabis, he said.
"This set the foundation to unlock Cape Town’s potential in this untapped sector. We have identified foreign investment interest and the possibility of it bringing in significant income, jobs, and skills.
"It is also testament to the city’s commitment to partner with the private sector to explore new opportunities to grow the economy, attract investment, and create much needed employment," he said.
Although cannabis as a drug and industrial hemp both derived from the species cannabis sativa, they were different strains with distinctive compositions and uses.
Medicinal cannabis referred to legal, high quality and standardised products made from crude or raw cannabis and was produced under very specific and regulated conditions. Hemp was used to make a variety of commercial and industrial products, including rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food, paper, bioplastics, insulation, and biofuel.
A framework for the legalisation of hemp in South Africa was under development. Currently raw hemp materials and products could be imported under specific conditions, but hemp cultivation was still forbidden.
"My intention is to write to the Minister of Health Dr Zweli Mkhize and the Medicines Control Council to request an update on the progress made to allow for the farming of hemp."
Vos said he would also write to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, as the body that adjudicated applications for medicinal cannabis, to ask for an update on the registration of medicinal cannabis in terms of the provisions of section 22C(1)(b) of the Medicines Act to:
* Cultivate/grow and produce cannabis and cannabis resin;
* Extract and test cannabis, cannabis resin and/or cannabinoids;
* Manufacture a Cannabis-containing or cannabinoid-containing medicine;
* Import a cannabis-containing medicine;
* Export a cannabis-containing medicine; and
* Distribute a cannabis-containing medicine.
The city would be at the forefront of creating the right environment for residents to benefit from this emerging sector, Vos said.
African News Agency (ANA)