High times for weed industry as business booms
During levels 4 and 5, the sale of alcohol and cigarettes was banned, but growing and consuming cannabis for personal use in a private space was legal.
“My shop has seen a huge increase in retail sales (and) loads more people growing,” a Cape Town cannabis business owner said.
Some suppliers operated anonymously on WhatsApp for delivery across the Western Cape, and several private buyers clubs have also been established.
“There’s a big private club thing going on in Cape Town,” a cannabis user said. “There are actual clubs where you sign in and you’re a member, and that’s taking off quite a bit.”
Another user, who grows his own cannabis, said he has been approached for weed by people who don't normally use it.
“One thing I have noticed during the lockdown is that I received requests from neighbours and family members for a sample,” he said. “Odd thing is all the requests have come from 60-plus females... to take the edge off because they had run out of alcohol.”
Chris Landman, owner of Zootly in Woodstock, said lockdown and the change of season has increased his sales of equipment to grow cannabis.
“(We sold) a lot of indoor growing stuff - lighting, tents. Just because of the season time, people had to go for that stuff if they wanted to grow,” he said.
“A lot of people were bored sitting at home with nothing to do, and they had lot of time to think about growing cannabis.
“Afterwards, it was an influx of everyone getting all the cannabis stuff they were thinking about.”
A Facebook group for cannabis enthusiasts agreed that the increased demand has given South Africa’s cannabis industry an opportunity to prove its legitimacy.
“It showed its maturity as a market,” one member said. “Supply was good and prices stayed constant. Low-grade supply ran out and there was a lot of scrambling for cheap bud.”