Cannabis in South Africa could positively transform society, says Wits Professor

Wits Professor says economic development could be negatively impacted by restraints that exist in regards to cannabis in South Africa


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

Could legal cannabis in South Africa help to tackle youth unemployment rates? According to Imhotep Paul Alagidede – a Professor of finance and academic director at the Wits Business School – quite possibly. He believes that the plant, which is also called ‘dagga’ in South Africa, is a “magical crop”; capable of creating a number of jobs for the country’s economy.

However, Alagidede says that research and investment is required for the continent’s cannabis industry to flourish. He described the plant as being “multidimensional”, due to the fact it has played an important role in the history of humankind.

Is cannabis in South Africa legal?

Cannabis in South Africa was initially criminalized in 1922. Then, in September 2018, South Africa’s Constitutional Court decriminalized the plant for private consumption, cultivation and possession among adults. Nonetheless, publicly buying and selling the plant remains illegal.

If a law enforcement officer encounters an individual who is in possession of cannabis in South Africa, the quantity will first be assessed as a means of determining whether or not it qualifies as personal consumption. If so, an arrest will not take place but instead, the law enforcement official would log the quantity of cannabis found in a diary, as well as note his/her reasons for not making an arrest.

Cannabis in South Africa: The green, versatile plant is rooted in South Africa’s heritage

Once upon a time in South Africa, cannabis was a popular ingredient used in food and medicine. Additionally, it was commonly utilized in ceremonies and for industrial purposes.

According to Wikipedia, early Arab or Indian traders are believed to have first introduced cannabis to Africa. During the Indigenous times in South Africa, cannabis was widely used by the Bantu and Khoisan people, with the plant being used traditionally by Basotho to relieve pain caused during childbirth.

Alagidede says that South Africa’s ancestors were fully aware of the plant’s versatile properties – with Indigenous societies using it for different reasons – but that further research must be conducted to determine its therapeutic properties and widespread uses.

“When we go back to indigenous cultures, we will realise that one of the first plants that ever made acquaintance with human beings on this planet is cannabis,” explained Alagidede via Twitter.

Cannabis in South Africa: Wits professor says economy will suffer if weed industry is repressed

Based on the opinion of professor Alagidede, economic development could be negatively impacted by restraints that exist in regards to cannabis in South Africa.

He says that the fight for legal cannabis in South Africa has been roadblocked by the big pharmaceutical industry – A.K.A. “Big Pharma” – in addition to the thriving tobacco industry and cotton farming activists; lobbyists feel threatened by the prospect of weed farms eclipsing their trade.

International experts who recently attended a conference in Sandton revealed that, if the government loosens regulations on cannabis in South Africa, the industry could be worth R107 billion; equivalent to USD$1.5 billion.

With such good prospects, lawmakers cannot really ignore the positive economic potential of legalizing cannabis in South Africa.