Progress Made In Hemp, Cannabis Sector Policy Progress Made In Hemp, Cannabis Sector Policy

Progress Made In Hemp, Cannabis Sector Policy

The government is making significant progress in the development of a policy for the hemp and cannabis sector in South Africa. Stakeholders have collectively agreed on regulatory reforms that will unlock the potential of cannabis in various fields. From traditional medicine to pharmaceuticals, complementary medicines, human and animal ingestion, and even industrial applications.

Recognizing the need for urgent action, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) and the Presidency convened a Phakisa Action Lab from 19 to 23 June 2023. More than 100 participants, including representatives from national and provincial government, business, labor, communities, traditional leaders, Rastafari leaders, scientists, legal experts, and other key stakeholders, came together to secure policy coherence and agreement on a stronger program of well-defined, time-bound, and assigned activities.

The cannabis and hemp sector is one of the 14 priority sectors identified in the government’s Country Investment Strategy. These sectors hold significant potential to attract investment, create jobs, and support sustainable rural livelihoods.

Regulatory Reforms

The Phakisa Action Lab yielded several regulatory reforms that will shape the future of the cannabis and hemp sector in South Africa:

  • Reviewing the schedules to the Medicines Act to further enable cannabis grown for non-medicinal uses, including industrial purposes. This means that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) will focus on cannabis grown for medicinal purposes, while other government departments will regulate cannabis grown for industrial purposes.
  • Exploring mechanisms to fast-track the removal of cannabis from the Drugs Act. This will make the cultivation of non-medicinal cannabis legal under the terms and conditions of the Plant Improvement Act, falling under DALRRD.
  • Ensuring a science-based and human rights approach to the supply of adult-use cannabis to consumers. This will involve a further exploratory process that includes all stakeholders, with a focus on including indigenous farmers. The aim is to establish an optimal, regulated adult-use market that considers the rights of all involved and reduces societal and industry harms associated with the illicit market. This process will also encourage existing participants in the illicit market to transition to the licit cannabis economy.
  • Reinforcing instructions to all South African Police Services (SAPS) members to respect the privacy rights of cannabis cultivators and users. SAPS will be expected to use the least intrusive measures when securing an accused’s court attendance. Measures will be taken to ensure that SAPS treats cultivators, users, and dealers of cannabis with respect for their constitutional rights.
  • Implementing measures to better enable investment in the sector. This includes scaling up support for existing catalytic projects, securing an optimal financing framework that targets black farmers and SME entrants, and deploying pragmatic interventions concerning investment promotion, export support, standards, and conformity assessment.
  • Ensuring alignment across government and collaborating with all provinces to further ongoing activities.

The Way Forward

The Phakisa Action Lab has laid a solid and constitutional foundation for the implementation of the Cannabis Master Plan in South Africa. A program of detailed, assigned, and time-bound activities has been agreed upon, along with stronger implementation of institutional arrangements across government departments at the national and provincial levels. The government will work closely with business, labor, communities, traditional leaders, Rastafari leaders, scientists, and legal experts to ensure the successful development and regulation of the cannabis and hemp sector.

With these regulatory reforms in place, South Africa is poised to harness the full potential of the hemp and cannabis industry, creating new economic opportunities, improving access to traditional medicine and complementary treatments, and promoting sustainable rural development.




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