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, 2019Duma, 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.


Further reference:


Some articles:

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
  • Cosmetics
  • Foods
  • Supplements
  • Biodiesel
  • Beverages
  • Textiles
  • Bio-composites
  • Automotives
  • Packaging Nonwovens
  • Paper
  • Food fibre
  • Insulation
  • Construction
  • Biofuels
  • Animal bedding
  • Hydroponics
  • Nutraceuticals
  • Health teas
  • Pharmaceuticals

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).

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).

Source: www.iol.co.za/lifestyle/health/got-a-little-green-fever-25192595 (adapted)

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/


Further reference:

Role players

Find role players at the Cannabis Expo www.thecannabisexpo.co.za.

Associations and NGOs

Development & services

On line shops

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
  • Receive the tweets from @DSouthAfrica




Some articles (local)



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