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SA medical and recreational cannabis industry poised to take off

With a cannabis bill before the National Assembly and a master plan being developed by the government, the medical and recreational cannabis sector in South Africa is set to emerge from the shadows and rapidly expand, as it has elsewhere in the world, writes MedicalBrief.

But there are numerous legal and commercial obstacles to overcome, and South Africans should take action to ensure that local value add is achieved for the industry if it is to deliver quality medical products at reasonable cost and cash in on the huge economic opportunities cannabis legalisation offers.

SA cannabis bill to be law by 2023 

The possession, cultivation and use of cannabis for private use is expected to be passed into law in two years’ time, writes Thando Maeko for Moneyweb in a 6 April 2021 article.

The legalisation of the private and commercial use of cannabis forms part of the country’s plan to revive its ailing economy which has been further battered by COVID-19.

Decriminalising cannabis has previously been touted by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni as one of the ways the country could plug in the hole in dwindling tax revenues.

Once legalised, South Africa will join other countries such as Australia, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Cyprus, Finland, Germany, Greece, Israel and Italy which have legalised the medical use of cannabis, the Moneyweb story continues.

Medical use only

Use of cannabis in South Africa is regulated by the Medicine and Related Substances Act, the Drugs and Trafficking Act and various other international laws prohibiting the use of the substance.

The draft cannabis master plan, seen by Moneyweb, foresees the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill (which is currently before the National Assembly) to be made into law by 2023.

The bill gives effect to the Constitutional Court judgment which was handed down in 2018. The apex court ruled that adults may use, cultivate and possess cannabis in private for their consumption and any prohibition of cannabis for private use limits the rights to individual privacy.

Although the Constitutional Court decriminalised the private use of cannabis, the buying and selling of cannabis, cannabis oil and cannabis seeds remain illegal.

Moneyweb writes that the master plan sets out various deadlines for the gradual implementation of the legal use of cannabis in South Africa including the legislative, agricultural and commercial requirements.

By 2023, the country ought to have declared hemp as an agricultural crop, made amendments to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, and developed a new policy and legislation for the commercialisation of cannabis.

Big market

The cannabis industry in the country is estimated to be worth R27 billion by 2023 according to the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa, writes Moneyweb. Globally, the industry is estimated to be worth $30 billion, increasing to $100 billion by 2030.

The draft plan, citing research from Interpol, says South Africa is the fourth-largest producer of dagga in the world with 3.5 million users.

Most of the users of the substance do it for recreational purposes although “medicinal marijuana is gaining traction both within the medical fraternity and with the general population”, Moneyweb continues.

The domestic industry is characterised by over 900,000 small-scale farmers, mostly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, who fear that the private cultivation of cannabis will decrease the number of buyers and that corporations will muscle them out of the sector.

Link to the full Moneyweb article below


SA could take a chunk of $83 billion medicinal marijuana business

Should the production and distribution of cannabis for medicinal and recreational uses be legalised, South Africa could be one of the most valuable cannabis markets in Africa by 2023 – but uncertainty about when this could happen is holding the industry back – writes Riana De Lange for City Press.

So say entrepreneurs, analysists and prospective investors who want to exploit the economic potential of the local cannabis industry.

International consulting group Prohibition Partners, which highlighted the potential of the cannabis industry in South Africa in several reports in 2019, says that, according to the World Health Organization, South Africa is the third-largest illegal cannabis producer in the world with about 2,500 tones grown a year.

The SA government decided in mid-2019 that a national strategy was needed to commercialise cannabis to promote economic growth, create jobs, develop rural areas and alleviate poverty.


Moneyweb article – Cannabis bill to be law by 2023

City Press article – SA could take a chunk of $83 billion medicinal marijuana business (Open access)




Cannabis Bill flawed by privacy and equality concerns

Distell enters the medical cannabis market

United Nations – and United States – reclassify cannabis as less risky narcotic

Medical and recreational cannabis burst into the SA mainstream




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