Cannabis industry could help reboot economy if laws are eased

The cannabis trade could dramatically bolster South Africa’s economy if authorities followed global trends and eased the country’s prohibitively regulated industry, according to the Cannabis Trade Association Africa (CTAA).

The newly formed association says SA’s “archaic” regulations are out of synch with the global move to de-regulate cannabis production and trade to meet international demand for a wide range of industrial, textile, and medicinal products.

This follows significant developments which could see greater SA participation in the multi-billion dollar industry, including the United Nations revoking a 60-year ban on cannabis, declaring it a legitimate medicine and recognizing its therapeutic value; and a ruling by the European Court of Justice that CBD cannot be considered a narcotic drug as it contains no psychoactive properties.

In the US, legislative developments are also underway which could further ease restrictions on cannabis, opening the way for further billions of dollars of cannabis-related business opportunities.

Anthony Cohen

“There are over 4 000 commercial uses of the hemp plant and South Africa can grow cannabis better than any other country,” said CTAA founding member Anthony Cohen. “Our climate allows us to grow three crops a year, so if we can farm hemp on scale we can create many thousands of jobs, dozens of ancillary enterprises, and in so doing, dramatically boost the economy.”

“But South African regulators are making it almost impossible for start-ups or small businesses to adhere to complex and prohibitive licensing requirements,” he said, adding that this conflicted with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s commitment to building the country’s hemp industry and went against SA’s recent vote at the UN to ease restrictions on cannabis. 

It was for this reason that the CTAA had been established, offering those in the cannabis industry a platform and voice to lobby for fair regulations, said CTAA chairperson, Tebogo Tlhopane.

“We want to help formulate an inclusive regulatory framework which makes it viable for all businesses to transact in the cannabis space, which is in the consumer’s interest, underscores safety, and contributes to socio-economic development in rural areas and the commercial sector,” he added.

Cannabis Trade Association Africa

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