South Africa to speed up regulations for the local cannabis industry

Last year, a plan to initiate the launch of South Africa’s cannabis industry was proposed by the South African Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD). However, progress is a little on the slow side.

Fortunately, things could be picking up some steam in the near future, with President Cyril Ramaphosa recently stating that his government will prioritize the creation of cannabis and hemp regulations.

Speaking on Thursday, February 10 at his state of the nation speech, President Ramaphosa elaborated on his government’s mission to find growth opportunities in existing and new industries, such as cannabis.

“Our people in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere are ready to farm with this age-old commodity and bring it to market in new and innovative forms,” said the 69-year-old leader during his appearance at Cape Town’s city hall.

South Africa’s new cannabis bill replaces an unpopular 2020 bill

Just one year before the DALRRD suggested legalizing cannabis via its streamlined plan, a different cannabis bill in South Africa was put forward for consideration. 

Titled, “the 2020 Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill,” the 2020 plan for cannabis reform in South Africa attracted criticism regarding harsh penalties, complex rules and a lack of commercialization guidance.

Based on the bill’s legal language, people who consume cannabis in public spaces could have faced the risk of two years behind bars. This penalty could have risen to four years for anyone caught consuming cannabis in front of children. 

Conversely, South Africa’s latest “master plan” to officially launch a cannabis market would create a seed registration and certification scheme.

In addition to this, new export markets would transpire, farmers would be provided with technical and financial assistance, and local consumers would be offered the chance to participate in education and training programs.

South Africa’s cannabis/hemp sector could create over 130,000 new jobs

During his state of the nation speech, Ramaphosa took the opportunity to open up about his government’s intentions for South Africa’s prospective legal market. One of the main points of discussion centered around the prospect of job creation with a legal cannabis and hemp sector. The South African president also noted the major investment opportunities that are likely to materialize if cannabis is legalized.

“We are therefore streamlining the regulatory processes so that the hemp and cannabis sector can thrive like it is in other countries such as Lesotho,” said Ramaphosa, who feels confident that the in-demand industry will create in excess of 130,000 new jobs.

Since public feedback was requested last September, at which point the bill was at the forefront of the parliaments’ justice committee agenda, progress has been slow. Hopefully, President Ramaphosa’s words will inspire some regulatory change to occur within the next few weeks or months.