DURBAN – A recent report by Prohibition Partners forecasts that Africa could benefit by US$7.1 billion per year by 2023 if cannabis cultivation is legalised.
As KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) has an ideal climate for the cultivation of cannabis, many KZN farmers would benefit from licenced cannabis cultivation.
The World Health Organisation estimates that South Africa is the third largest producer in the world of cannabis, which provides employment fort some 1.2 million people made up of 900,000 cannabis farmers and 350,000 traditional healers who grow their own cannabis for medical reasons.
The African Cannabis Report, the first detailed report on the legal cannabis industry in Africa, found that the continent could reap significant rewards through the legalisation of cannabis as it would improve a country’s balance of payments, support the local currency so reducing imported inflation, and create many thousands of jobs.
Daragh Anglim, Managing Director at Prohibition Partners, said legal cannabis cultivation could be a game changer for the continent.
"A regulated legal cannabis market could be transformative to patients, farmers and economies across Africa. From a financial standpoint, Africa could reap significant rewards through the legalisation of cannabis, with international demand offering a strong commercial opportunity for cannabis cultivation,” he said.
Despite moves to legalise the cultivation of cannabis for medical products in several key markets such as South Africa, Lesotho and Zimbabwe, cannabis remains illegal across most of the continent as the great majority of African government have yet to follow the trend of legalisation that is sweeping across Europe, North America and Latin America.
“It is currently estimated that more than 38,000 tonnes of illegal cannabis is produced across Africa each year, with a market value of billions of dollars. This demonstrates the clear potential for an economic boom for African countries that actively seek to legalise and regulate their cannabis market,” he added.
Assuming there is full legalisation and regulation of the cannabis industry, South Africa and Nigeria potentially represent the region’s two largest value medicinal cannabis markets going forward, worth US$667m or around R9.7 billion or around a tenth of the foreign exchange generated by gold mining to South Africa and US$75m to Nigeria by 2023.
Africa has a long history of cannabis cultivation and many farmers have turned to illegal cannabis cultivation as the only means of subsistence since the decline in demand for other crops such as tobacco.
According to figures from the United Nations (UN), South Africa produces around 2,500 tonnes of cannabis per year and a significant portion of that is grown in KZN.
Following the decision to legalise the private use of cannabis in South Africa in September 2018, a fledgling industry capitalising on the various uses for the plant has sprung up with the first cannabis exhibition and trade fair held in December 2018.
In 1999, the Department of Health issued legal permit to the House of Hemp to conduct research on thehealth benefits of pharmaceutical grade cannabidiol (CBD) and other cannabinoids. Based out of Dube Tradeport at King Shaka International Airport‚ the company was established in 1999 as part of the National Hemp Foundation project which was formed to conduct legal research into hemp fibre and seeds‚ fibre production‚ and hemp CBD.
In May 2018, South Africa’s first medical cannabis dispensary opened in Durban. One of the centre’s founder creators is Krithi Thaver, the founder of Canna Culture and chair of the KwaZulu-Natal branch of the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa.
The Holistic Relief Wellness and Pain Management Centre is said to combine traditional medical practices in chiropractics, physiotherapy, diseases and illnesses (acute and chronic) to treat the whole body.
Patients will see a doctor, chiropractor or traditional healer who will consult and prescribe them different strengths oils infused with cannabis and ayurvedic ingredients.
Anecdotal reports are that the cannabis seed banks are low on stock because everyone has started to cultivate cannabis on their private properties, with many old age homes, where many people suffer chronic pain, now growing cannabis for private sue in their flower pots.
To satisfy the need for knowledge on cultivation and how to process the feminized cannabis into medical grade CBD using coconut oil, many Internet-based growing guides are springing up, while indoor grow shops are flourishing and many seminars are held with visiting international keynote experts.
Law firms are looking to the inevitability in a change of labour laws, but many employers have reiterated by letter to their employees that there is still a zero tolerance for illegal drugs in their workplace.
Many estate agents and landlords have posted notice that as far as they are concerned “weed” is still illegal and its use will not be tolerated on their premises.