When we began this project in 2003 we made a joke about including dagga in the table of contents with a note like “banned” or “removed” on the referenced page; we laughed and continued research on the other chapters. Now, some sixteen years later, we began work on the chapter with a quiet sense of irony.
The judgement confirmed by the Constitutional Court that cannabis was no longer illegal for private use unleashed a flood of interest and many business plans by companies and – yes – government departments (Felem, 2019; Duma, 2019) on how to capitalise on the development. According to Agbiz’s Wandile Sihlobo, a potential cannabis value chain would/should focus on international trade (export) and domestic medicinal use, which would see accompanying economic activity and job creation particularly in the rural areas.
Hemp, a cousin albeit with no psychoactive properties, also hoped that its own unfettered cultivation and potential might also finally be realised (Kriel, 2017). The seeds, flowers, fibre and stalks can be used in multiple ways (see “Fibre plants” page).
There are naysayers and opposition too. Negatives for legalising cannabis include increased evidence linking it to schizophrenia, “particularity in young people”, being unproductive and lacking motivation. It is a gateway drug opening the way to harder drugs (Chabalala, 2017).
All this has led to calls for more research to be done to inform the legislative framework around cannabis.
International business environment
Cannabis for medical purposes is legal Canada, Australia, Israel, Thailand, Lesotho and eleven states in the USA. Luxembourg will legalise cannabis over the next two years; production and distribution is to happen through a state agency. It has called on its European neighbours to relax their laws (Boffey, 2019).
The estimated global market value of combined legal and illicit cannabis markets was about US$344 billon (R5 trillion) in 2018 (New Frontier Data, 2019). Africa accounts for 11% of the world’s cannabis market value, South Africa enjoying sixth place on this continent in cannabis value terms.
- Find international news and articles at Cannabis Now https://cannabisnow.com
- Prohibition Partners compile “exclusive reports provide the most in-depth coverage of the international cannabis industry”. Find these and sign up for a cannabis newsletter at https://prohibitionpartners.com.
- Chris Conrad, “world class cannabis expert”, http://chrisconrad.com
- The legal cannabis industry is the largest creator of jobs in the US, according to a study by Whitney Economics and Leafly. Find the 702 report at www.702.co.za/articles/340472/legal-dagga-industry-has-become-largest-creator-of-jobs-in-the-us-study
- Boffey, D. 2019, August 7. “Luxembourg to be first European country to legalise cannabis”. The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/world/2019/aug/07/luxembourg-to-be-first-european-country-to-legalise-cannabis
- Roy EA. 2019, July 4. “Into the light: New Zealand’s cannabis growers gear up for referendum”. The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/04/into-the-light-new-zealands-cannabis-growers-gear-up-for-referendum
- Scott C.B. 2019, May 30. “7 Cannabis Industry Millionaires Making It Big In The Marijuana Business”. ExpertHub. Available at www.experthub.info/success/success-stories/snapshots/7-cannabis-industry-millionaires-making-it-big-in-the-marijuana-business/
- Mpofu T. 2019, May 28. “Cannabis can boost agriculture in Africa – report”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/africa/cannabis-can-boost-agriculture-in-africa-report/
- AFP. 2019, April 20. “Thailand marijuana festival has visitors on a high”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2019/04/20/thailand-marijuana-festival-has-visitors-on-a-high
- Find the 702 report “Legalisation of dagga in the United States is reducing violent crime – study” (2018) at www.702.co.za/articles/288645/legalisation-of-dagga-in-the-united-states-is-reducing-violent-crime-study
- Cecco L. 2018, October 17. “On a high: Canada celebrates cannabis being legalised”. The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/world/2018/oct/17/on-a-high-canada-celebrates-cannabis-being-legalised
- Grierson J. & Busby M. 2018, July 26. “Cannabis-based medicines get green light as UK eases rules”. The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/society/2018/jul/26/cannabis-based-medicines-get-green-light-as-uk-eases-rules
- Cameron J. 2018, July 24. “Zimbabwe gets set to cash in on cannabis: is SA missing next gold rush?” Biz News. Available at www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2018/07/24/zimbabwe-cannabis-sa-dagga-debate/
- Uys, G. 2018, January 8. “Australia aims to become top medicinal cannabis exporter”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/world/australia-aims-become-top-medicinal-cannabis-exporter/
Local business environment
The policy framework for the legal production of cannabis may still take a long time to be clarified with the danger that benefits for farmers will not be realised (Erasmus, 2019). Countries where production is legal currently supply the South African market for medicinal cannabis.
The following steps (Qobo & Sihlobo, 2019) should be considered to maximise the potential of the crop:
- The license fee should not be prohibitive.
- A single authority should oversee the various licenses, be they for medical, industrial etc purposes.
- A value chain approach should be taken where focus is not only primary production but goes from seed breeding to high value hemp industrial products. Indeed opportunities exist not only for smallholder farmers but also for agronomists, scientists, research and development. There can also be job creation in branding (see Werksmans, 2019), packaging, logistics and transport.
The Cannabis Development Council of SA (CDCSA) identifies several other economic sectors which could be involved in a successful cannabis economy (includes hemp):
- Animal feed
- Food enrichment
- Packaging Nonwovens
- Food fibre
- Animal bedding
- Health teas
The provinces best suited climatically for possible cannabis cultivation are KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Limpopo. High profit margins and ease of production are included as benefits of the crop (Mpofu, 2019). Apart from new employment opportunities and economic growth, a tax on the cannabis value chain would also be another income for government.
Controlled, international trade in cannabis and its products, and medicinal use locally is where the focus should be. Increased research to assist policy makers in evaluating the benefits and possible unintended consequences (Sihlobo, 2019).
- Qobo M. & Sihlobo W. 2019, July 28. “Lessons from Africa: High time for SA to refine its cannabis licensing mechanism”. Daily Maverick. Available at www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-07-28-lessons-from-africa-high-time-for-sa-to-refine-its-cannabis-licensing-mechanism/
- Ndenze B. 2019, July 3. “Major drop in dagga arrests following legalisation – SAPS”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2019/07/03/major-drop-in-dagga-arrests-following-legalisation-saps
- Erasmus, D. 2019, June 29. “Cannabis industry is in need of legislation”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/opinion/blog/letter-from-the-editor/cannabis-industry-is-in-need-of-legislation/
- Preuss D & Preuss H. 2019, June 23. “A considered approach to cannabis investment”. Business Report. Available at www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/a-considered-approach-to-cannabis-investment-26708473
- Mabuyane L. 2019, June 15. “We have a choice to either join the emerging cannabis economy or stand by and watch”. City Press. Available at https://city-press.news24.com/Voices/we-have-a-choice-to-either-join-the-emerging-cannabis-economy-or-stand-by-and-watch-20190615
- Werksmans Arrorneys. 2019, June 10. “The opportunities to create new brands for cannabis-based products appear endless”. Polity. Available at www.polity.org.za/article/the-opportunities-to-create-new-brands-for-cannabis-based-products-appear-endless-2019-06-10
- Felem AF. 2019, May 20. “SA company given green light to grow, import cannabis to Canada”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2019/05/20/sa-company-given-green-light-to-grow-import-cannabis-to-canada
- 702. 2019, February 22. “How dagga could become a cash cow for South Africa’s economy”. Available at www.702.co.za/articles/338910/how-dagga-could-become-a-cash-cow-for-south-africa-s-economy
- Crampton, N. 2018, December 12. “12 Cannabis Products You Can Legally Start Selling Right Now”. Entrepreneur Magazine. Available at www.entrepreneurmag.co.za/advice/starting-a-business/business-ideas-directory/12-cannabis-products-you-can-legally-start-selling-right-now/
- Crampton N. 2018, November 13. “11 Marijuana Business Opportunities You Can Launch in South Africa Right Now”. Entrepreneur South Africa. Available at www.entrepreneur.com/article/327494
- Van Wyk, J. 2019, April 17. “So kry jy ‘n daggalisensie” [This is how you get a cannabis license]. Landbouweekblad. Available at www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/so-kry-jy-n-daggalisensie-20190416
- Sihlobo W. 2019, April 8. “Should South Africa explore the cannabis market?”. Available at https://wandilesihlobo.com/2019/04/08/should-south-africa-explore-the-cannabis-market-2/
- Kriel G. 2017, February 23. “Medicinal cannabis soon to be legalised”. Farmer’s Weekly. Available at www.farmersweekly.co.za/agri-news/south-africa/medicinal-cannabis-soon-legalised/
- Lakčević V. 2015. Through the smokescreen: is there a socio-economic case for cannabis legislation in South Africa? The Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town. Available at http://gsblibrary.uct.ac.za/researchreports/2015/Lakcevic.pdf
For the newcomer
Find the grower guidelines “How to Grow Cannabis In Your Garden” by Brian Barth and “10 Steps to Growing Cannabis Safely and Efficiently in Your Own Home” by Marco Torres.
For guides on processing cannabis, contact role players (see later heading).
National strategy and government contact
The law is unambiguous about the allowable levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetra-hydrocannabinol (THC) in products. It is illegal to sell high-dose CBD products with questionable levels of THC.
The health minister has temporarily moved CBD from Schedule 7 classification to Schedule 4 (therapeutic use). This is for the purpose of allowing the Department of Health and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) time to consult with stakeholders and decide on scheduling. Schedule 4 medicines and substances are only available on a doctor’s prescription, while Schedule 7s are not generally available to the public.
Low-dose CBD has been removed from scheduling because it is normally well tolerated and has a good safety profile i.e. products with a maximum daily dose of 20mg of CBD and 0.001% of THC are not controlled substances.
Despite the Constitutional Court ruling, the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act is still in place (you can’t sell unprocessed cannabis). As for foodstuffs containing CBD, these are governed by the Foodstuffs, Cosmetics and Disinfectants Act (FCD).
Government role players:
- South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra)
- Eastern Cape Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform Tel: 043 642 3497 www.drdar.gov.za
- Department of Economic Development (Kwazulu-Natal) Tel: 033 264 2500 www.kznedtea.gov.za/
- Find the Agribook blog ‘Understanding the local cannabis industry – “weeding” out confusion‘.
- Gerwel H. 2018. Institutional innovation and pro-poor agricultural growth: cannabis cultivation in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa as fertile opportunity. ResearchGate. Available at www.researchgate.net/publication/328532088_Institutional_innovation_and_pro-poor_agricultural_growth_cannabis_cultivation_in_the_Eastern_Cape_province_of_South_Africa_as_fertile_opportunity
- African News Agency (ANA). 2019, August 3. “Eastern Cape aims to create thriving economy through legalisation of Cannabis”. Business Report. Available at www.iol.co.za/business-report/economy/eastern-cape-aims-to-create-thriving-economy-through-legalisation-of-cannabis-30185791
- Duma N. 2019, August 1. “Joint ventures: KZN govt eyes slice of cannabis sector”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2019/08/01/joint-ventures-kzn-govt-eyes-slice-of-cannabis-sector
- Felem AF. 2019, July 5. “Cannabis capitalisation high on the priority list for EC Rural Development Dept”. Eye Witness News. Available at https://ewn.co.za/2019/07/05/ec-rural-development-dept-pledges-to-support-cannabis-capitilisation
- CapeTalk. 2019, June 6. “Although it is legal to use dagga-derived CBD here’s what you need to know”. Available at www.capetalk.co.za/articles/350934/although-it-is-legal-to-use-dagga-derived-cbd-here-s-what-you-need-to-know
- Crouth G. 2019, June 3. “Before you go into the business of cannabis, read this”. IOL. Available at www.iol.co.za/news/south-africa/western-cape/before-you-go-into-the-business-of-cannabis-read-this-24891897
- Sihlobo, W. 2018, November 20. “Wandile Sihlobo: Dagga belt could bring high returns for horticulture”. Fin24. Available at www.fin24.com/Opinion/wandile-sihlobo-dagga-belt-could-bring-high-returns-for-horticulture-20181120-4
- Ensor L. 2018 August 23. “DTI to research the commercial viability of dagga”. Business Day. Available at www.businesslive.co.za/bd/economy/2018-08-23-dti-to-research-the-commercial-viability-of-dagga/
Find role players at the Cannabis Expo www.thecannabisexpo.co.za.
Associations and NGOs
- Dagga Party of South Africa https://daggaparty.org.za
- Fields of Green for All https://fieldsofgreenforall.org.za and https://daggacouple.co.za
- Medical Cannabis South Africa http://medicalcannabis.co.za
Development & services
- AfriCanna Innovation Tel: 010 007 0900 https://africannainc.co.za
- Cannabis Development Council of the Eastern Cape (CDCEC) https://cdcec.org.za
- Cannabis Development Council of KwaZulu-Natal (CDCKZN) www.cdckzn.co.za
- Cannabis Development Council of SA (CDCSA) https://cdcsa.co.za
- Cannabis Compliance Bureau http://ccbureau.co.za Consultants
- NudleBox www.nudlebox.co.za Online recruiting for jobs in the cannabis sector
- The Cannabis Expo www.thecannabisexpo.co.za
On line shops
- Africanpure https://africanpure.co
- Canna Coffee https://cannacoffee.co.za
- Elixinol https://elixinol.co.za
- Funny Lady Edibles www.funnylady.co.za
- Herbology www.buyherbalremedies.co.za
- Irie CBD https://iriecbdafrica.co.za
Equipment and other
Websites and publications
Visit the websites of role players and previous links on this page.
- 420 SA Cannabis Forum www.420sa.co.za
- Rice C. 2018. Cannabis: A Lost History. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2p6qFT_Zjg&t=66s
- CNBC Africa. 2018, December 13. “Exploring the economic potential of legal dagga in SA”. Available at www.cnbcafrica.com/videos/2018/12/13/exploring-the-economic-potential-of-legal-dagga-in-sa/
- SABC Digital. 2018, September 18. “Dagga decriminalised | It’s now legal to grow dagga at home”. Available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=x2vH5wptxpk
Some articles (local)
- Kibel D. 2019, August 12. “Cannabis: Taking the high ground in investment”. Personal Finance. Available at www.iol.co.za/personal-finance/investments/cannabis-taking-the-high-ground-in-investment-30695829
- Van Wyk J. 2019, May 16. “Noord-Kaap boer kweek organiese dagga” [Northern Cape farmer cultivates organic dagga]. Landbouweekblad. Available at www.netwerk24.com/landbou/Nuus/noord-kaapse-boer-kweek-organiese-dagga-20190516
- Reporter. 2019, April 3. “House of Hemp 1st Medical Cannabis License in South Africa”. Dube Tradeport. Available at www.dubetradeport.co.za/News/7/Press%20Releases%20and%20Statements/70243/HouseofHemp1stMedicalCannabisLicenseinSouthAfrica
- Weatjen T. 2018, September 23. “South African court frees cannabis from colonial and apartheid past”. The Conversation. Available at https://theconversation.com/south-african-court-frees-cannabis-from-colonial-and-apartheid-past-103644
- Harper N. 2019, August 5. “Cannabis Flavonoids Give Hope for New Way to Treat Pain, Study Finds”. Wake Up World. Available at https://wakeup-world.com/2019/08/05/cannabis-flavonoids-give-hope-for-new-way-to-treat-pain-study-finds/
- Healthline. 2019, June 10. “Can You Eat Weed? All You Need to Know About Marijuana Edibles”. EcoWatch. Available at www.ecowatch.com/marijuana-edibles-2638759428.html
- Mahdawi A. 2019, May 28. “Are ‘weed tampons’ the answer to period pain?” The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/28/are-weed-tampons-answer-to-period-pain-cbd-suppositories-pms
- Lewis, T. 2019, May 5. “CBD: a marijuana miracle or just another health fad?” The Guardian. Available at www.theguardian.com/society/2019/may/05/cbd-a-marijuana-miracle-or-another-health-fad-cannabidiol-anxiety-epilepsy
- Ndongeni V. 2019, March 26. “Cannabis oil may treat a multitude of ailments”. IOL. Available at www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/health/cannabis-oil-may-treat-a-multitude-of-ailments-20091132
- Modern Farmer. 2018 August 25. “How to Grow Cannabis In Your Garden (Where Legal)”. EcoWatch. Available at www.ecowatch.com/grow-cannabis-in-your-garden-2598708742.html
- CNS Reporter. 2018, August 13. “Cannabis compound found to remove toxic Alzheimer’s protein from the brain”. The Citizen. Available at https://citizen.co.za/news/news-world/1994779/cannabis-compound-found-to-remove-toxic-alzheimers-protein-from-the-brain/
- Torres M. 2017, November 15. “Study: Medical Cannabis Significantly Reduces Prescription Drug Use”. Wake Up World. Available at https://wakeup-world.com/2017/11/15/study-medical-cannabis-significantly-reduces-prescription-drug-use/
- Torres M. 2016, October 14. “Still Believe Nature Got It Wrong? Top 10 Health Benefits of Marijuana”. Wake Up World. Available at wakeup-world.com/2016/10/14/still-believe-nature-got-it-wrong-top-10-health-benefits-of-marijuana/
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