INVESTMENT in cannabis and its related products for social and medical use is set to increase dramatically, including the Ndlambe municipal area and Sarah Baartman district, as the awareness of new opportunities increases, and new legalisation becomes clearer.
The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill has been introduced and published for comment before going through the committee stages in Parliament, then fully debated and finally passed. As the bill progresses, it is becoming clearer what private growers can do.
Locally, there was a spotlight on cannabis at the Bathurst Agricultural Society Weekend Diversion recently in Bathurst.
The fun-filled programme included The Cannabis Corner, intent on supplying valuable information for anyone interested in the future of the plant and its products. Chris “Jay” Jonsson, a commentator, and writer on cannabis issues organised the Cannabis Corner. He is a cannabis consultant and, among others, owner of the business website Cannabis Promoter.
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Jonsson was present to advise visitors to the stand. “We had a couple of plants on display in the Memorial Hall with information about the history and future of cannabis in South Africa. Local Cannabidiol (CBD) products, cannabis books, handmade clay pipes and rolling trays were on sale. Natie Ferreira, master grower, and his wife, Ilse, from Paarl in the Western Cape, were in attendance to answer questions about growing cannabis,” says Jonsson.
Dr Rick Pryce of the Port Alfred Business Forum and Joc Guest, Ndlambe town councillor, both responded positively about the responsible development of cannabis growth and products. “I think that cannabis use will increase dramatically in the future as it has many properties for medical and social use,” Pryce said.
Asked about the value of the region as an investment target for cannabis entrepreneurs, he said: “Yes, it will be a good thing for entrepreneurs in this area.” About the increase in the private growers and interest in the Private Cannabis Club initiative, he said: “I am not aware of producers nor in a position to promote clubs or growers. Once it is legalised for private use then the Business Forum can put it on the website.” Dr Pryce believes accountable cannabis development, “can be a useful income producer in any area.”
There is a trend among local growers to join the SA private cannabis social club movement. This private club Initiative describes itself as “a group of community orientated cannabis enthusiasts busy rebuilding South Africa by using cannabis as a spearhead crop to create jobs and pay taxes in a sustainable green Agri-economy.” Two of these sorts of movements include Grow One Africa and Fields of Green for All. “I have no problem with growing cannabis for own use,” says Guest. “It has always been grown here albeit illegally. I agree that theft will be a problem as it was this that stopped our commercial farmers from growing vegetables here. I can think of two crops with greater benefits to the country.
These are hemp and the wonderful bamboo. I am open to using cannabis for medical purposes but not so keen on its uses as a freely available drug.” Capt. Mali Govender, a media spokesperson for the South African Police Services (SAPS) in the Sarah Baartman District, says they are not focused on monitoring cannabis grown at home. “However, if we discover large plantations being developed, we will investigate. We encourage the community to contact us if they have any information on cannabis being grown on a large scale,” she said.
Written by – Piet Marais, of Bushman’s River Mouth