Although we had to wait some 90 minutes to hear from President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa due to deplorable disruptive behaviour from members of opposition party the Economic Freedom Fighters - and it was well worth the wait!
Ramaphosa gave updates on the progress of his tenure for the past two years and one would actually think we are on the road to victory, at least when we overlook the current state of most State Owned Enterprises. We can't side step the fact that we have not seen mention worthy economic growth in the last 10 years and Cyril mentioned more than a couple policies that will see our local GDP getting that needed boost.
After chatting a bit about the ARC (Agriculture Research Council) and the mention of small scale farmers, I just knew the mention to Cannabis was coming!
"This year we will open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products, providing opportunities for small-scale farmers; this is our approach to the opportunities that are offered by cannabis farming which happens throughout the country. We will formulate policy on the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes, to build this industry in line with global trends. I can see when I talk about cannabis people get quite excited. I begin to wonder whether they are excited because they know about it, or know how it is used or are users themselves. The regulatory steps will soon be announced by the relevant ministers." - Cyril Ramaphosa (to watch, click here)Massive statements, the president essentially opening up the market and let's hope the FDI world was watching. Let's unpack this and see where we at:
Hemp: Industrial cannabis will be the key to opening the door of an emancipated South Africa if we can mobilise state, farmers and consumers ASAP. We already see hemp products on our shelves (clothing, personal care, curtains, and of course CBD oils) but until this year, the supply was from abroad paying into carbon omissions for transport and supporting a foreign market..why..? We need to set up the licensing/permit model that will facilitate this both on a small and large scale. We got the land, the labour and the African sun - let's take what we got and use it for good.
Small scale farmers: It is imperative that we see a push for small scale farmers to get on board with this crop as this will usher in the far reaching emancipating industry to those that really need it. It is worth throwing in most of Eastern Cape farmers who have been farming on a sustenance basis can not shift from an illegal to legal crop - just need to make sure we dot the i's and cross the t's before execution.
It is very progressive for Cyril to have chosen the words "offered by cannabis farming which happens throughout the country." Here we see the acknowledgement of the current illegal black market and the desire to bring them above board and contributing to our GDP.
Formulate policy: This is where we are at now.. How are the Parliamentary portfolio committee's going to usher this in to South Africa? What policies will guide us? NDP? Which Ministry will take ownership when this plant is so far reaching?
Our Cannabis Industry Development Co-Operative WC is working on educating the Member's of each affected Portfolio Committee on the benefits of cannabis in South Africa and hopefully we can help shed some of the people's light into this process!
When opening the cannabis industry up - legally there is a two pronged approach that Parliament will implore:
1) Introduce a new Bill that will govern the matter for example, Regulation of Cannabis Bill (see my previous article on this proposed Bill from 7 Jan 2019)
- there is too little time for this as we need each of the 22 steps of introducing a new Bill to be adhered to and public participation alone will delay this beyond 18th Sept 2020 - the lapse of Con Court ruling of 24 months to legislate Cannabis in to our law.
2) Change the current law that criminalizes or limits the freedom of the cannabis plant. Here we would see Amendments made to the Drugs Trafficking Act, Medicines and Related Substances Act, and a couple of others that currently govern cannabis. These amendments need to be pushed by each Minister and dealt with in each Portfolio Committee.
I strongly believe the 2nd approach will be implored given the time we have left but what now? What about Bheki Cele (Minister of Police) who is openly against cannabis use and persists with arrests of personal users? What about Tito Mboweni (Minister of Finance) who already growing his own stash? There are some of the decision makers that are on board and some that will put up resistance but at the end of the day, the Members of Parliament are subject to the Constitutional Court ruling and only have 7 months and 4 days to wrap this up. Averments to a denial of an extension have been made already if the Members try to delay, they will struggle to come up with a reason as to why we (the public) have not heard one peep from the Legislatures since the 18th Sept 2018 regarding cannabis laws - they simply have not lifted a finger on the matter, not a valid reason to be in contempt of a Con Court ruling.