the The South African cannabis industry has been on hold for a few years, despite government statements to speed up reforms. Last week, the African country’s federal government promised to speed up its proposed reforms to bolster the power of the industry.
South Africans are preparing for a new phase in their cannabis industry. The proposed reforms promise to help the sector and its operators prosper. This is quite different from other African countries which have continued to remain blind to the medical and economic potential of cannabis reforms.
When it comes to federal cannabis reforms, South Africa is one of the few countries that seem to be moving forward. The majority of countries in the world are currently in the opposition band, with very little chance of moving. The South African government has announced plans to develop a regulatory framework for the growing local cannabis industry. When this plan was first announced in 2019, the government did not adopt it. However, this recent development is supported by the president himself, and therefore on its own is a turbo boost for the movement.
Thusday, On February 10, Cyril Ramaphosa (President of South Africa) announced that the cannabis industry is an important part of the country’s economic plan. His administration plans to open up the domestic cannabis industry to attract more investors and create thousands of jobs for South Africans. The president revealed it after the joint session of the National Assembly of the federation and the National Council of Provinces in Cape Town.
While delivering the State of the Nation Address (SONA) to crucial members of government, he stressed the importance of developing the nascent local industry. Cannabis plants are in high demand around the world right now, so it would make economic sense to tap into the global market by growing large quantities of cannabis plants for export and further processing.
No less than 130,000 jobs would be created by developing the local cannabis industry in the country. The potential value of the industry could be at least $1 billion. Imagine the many foreign investors flocking to the country to get involved. Remember, the post-pandemic era has been plagued by inflation, job shortages, and an overall low quality of life. The cannabis industry could offer a great solution to this.
The government plans to use Lesotho as a model for its cannabis industry framework. The president of the industrialized nation plans to reduce the lengthy procedures currently in the cannabis and hemp sectors to allow them to grow at a rapid pace. They aim to fine-tune the industry’s regulatory and policy framework to make things better and more manageable.
A Renewed Focus on Cannabis Reforms
Ranaphosa explained that the country must harness the cannabis industry for economic growth and medical breakthroughs. He said federal agencies would work together to expedite and change policy and regulations allowing the use of cannabis for medical purposes. The move will also make the drugs more accessible to residents of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
This renewed attention or interest in cannabis reform is an unusual turn of events in this part of the world. It is also an exciting choice for an African country to consider the POST-COVID economic stimulus measure. South Africa is closely monitoring the international cannabis trade in the future.
Since 2020, cannabis advocates in South Africa have been pushing for the Cannabis for Private Use Bill in parliament. But nothing meaningful has been done since it was introduced in late 2020. Until this new plan was announced, this bill proposed that adults own and grow cannabis in their homes for personal use. It contains comprehensive information on rules and guidelines for cannabis growers and recreational users.
This new direction will not be limited to the cannabis industry alone. The president further explained that his administration is working on other plans to boost productivity in other promising sectors. He says he is committed to creating and maintaining a good business environment in all parts of the country.
Should this be a priority?
Cannabis reforms in South Africa have evolved slowly over the years. This latest development is long overdue, but that’s not reason enough to consider it the best move yet.
In 2018, the Constitutional Court of South Africa ruled in favor of cannabis reforms for self-cultivation and private consumption. The court’s decision provided for a two-year deadline within which the legislature must have passed the law. Unfortunately, COVID arrived in 2020 and threw all cannabis reform legislation out the window. Ramaphosa’s announcement means legislative drag and avoidable delays will finally come to an end.
Yesterday, the details of the proposed bill were overwhelmingly criticized as confusing and too strict. The bill includes a provision for the deletion of records for minor non-violent offenses. Yet it does not give detailed information on how the industry might be marketed for global reach, nor does it explicitly describe how lawmakers would enforce the law. An example of the confusing provisions states that smoking in public carries a prison sentence of up to two years, while a four-year prison sentence will follow child smoking.
In truth, the proposed legislation looks best for private growers and users, with little consideration given to large-scale cannabis production and sales. The proposed sanctions will also be more of a threat to the weak, poor and vulnerable areas of the country.
As it stands, the Ramaphosa team is not completely altruistic with the proposed reforms, but rather sees them as a way out of a struggling economy. For many, the reason doesn’t matter as long as it gets the reforms approved.
Progress on cannabis reforms could mean additional incentives for cannabis growers and a new product for the country market globally. It’s unclear whether or not this administration will approve these cannabis reforms anytime soon, but rest assured that internal pressure to provide potential support to the struggling economy could help them stay the course.
In the words of Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa is fighting for the reputation and the soul of the industrial nation. Whether or not they are defeated depends on their tenacity.
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