‘The cannabis sector promises to be the new avenue for growth and job creation in SA, and the sooner a predictable policy and legislative framework is promulgated, the better for the country’s economic fortunes.’

So says Wits Business School Associate Professor Mzukisi Qobo and the Agricultural Business Chamber of SA’s Wandile Sihlobo, who argue that the thrust of policy should be a balance between equity and a liberal investment regime; a value-chain approach; a bias towards uplifting rural communities; and provision of financial and non-financial support for new black entrepreneurs.

In an analysis in Business Day, the authors point to the fact that the City of Cape Town is freeing up land for medical cannabis. This is after Parliament promulgated a legislative framework as required by the 2018 Zondo judgment in Minister of Justice & Constitutional Development and Others v Prince.

However, they note that SA has been slow in taking advantage of the Zondo judgment to spawn a clear policy framework that could catalyse the economic uses of cannabis.

‘In the interim, there are a set of guidelines in place that have been issued by the Medicines Control Council. These are interim regulations until Parliament comes up with a permanent framework. The guidelines anticipate legislative measures that not only decriminalise cannabis but pave the path to commercialisation.’

The authors argue that cannabis could be a ‘catalyst’ for revitalising rural communities – especially in the Eastern Cape, KZN and Limpopo.

‘If SA tarries longer, it could suffer a late-comer competitive disadvantage in the future,’ they say.

Qobo and Sihlobo add that SA’s ‘competitive advantage’ could be built on the back of a clear and predictable regulatory framework; an open investment regime; strong R&D support; the creation of knowledge networks that bring together university researchers, centres of excellence, and other industry players; a product quality and standards authority; and a low-cost licensing regime.

Full analysis in Business Day

Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v Prince

Medicines Control Council’s cannabis guidelines