People Power and Our Enormous Cannabis Economy

People Power and Our Enormous Cannabis Economy

The Department of Trade and Industry is the first South African government department to embark on a programme of research into the economic viability of Cannabis, as reported in Business Day.

This may lead to some government officials actually learning something about Cannabis and its significant part in our economy. This is as opposed to the fear mongering and mixed messages that come out of the likes of the Department of Health.

This is to say nothing of the National Prosecuting Authority who do nothing to stem the tide of unlawful arrests that happen to the tune of over 600 per day in South Africa.


In 2011 when the Pretoria High Court granted us a stay in prosecution it paved the way for us to charge seven South African government with enacting unlawful laws. We served the papers and when the responses came in they were quite predictable. “Prove what you are saying and we’ll see you in court.”

Except for the DTI.

They issued us with a “notice to abide”, which means they would not be fighting us in court and would respect the judge’s decision. We remember thinking that this was significant, even back in the day when we knew next to nothing about how things would pan out.


Business Day published the headline “There is money in Marijuana” as an opinion piece in May 2018. Well, yes.

In June 2018 I was interviewed by Business Day’s Nick Hedley and pointed out that there was no credible economic research specific to Cannabis in South Africa. An existing business that operates with impunity stole the headline but, nevertheless, I stand firmly by the fact that we can’t look to places like Uruguay, Canada or the United States for a blueprint we can copy and implement. For example: Imagine what a field day our non-too-few “tenderpreneurs” will have with a system of licensing where you can grease a palm and steal a centuries old farming tradition from our rural poor?

Together with community groups and the existing underground Cannabis economy, Fields of Green for ALL is hard at work formulating civil society’s vision for the future of our Cannabis economy. We welcome this move by the DTI and thank them for the foresight in abiding with the court eight years ago. Having had a sneak peek at what could be the direction of their research, we think this bodes well.

But. We are watching very carefully.

There are plenty South African economics experts who are on our side when it comes to formulating a plan but at the same time there are vultures circulating. Overseas investors are here in force, trying to wangle non-existent “licenses” from a ‘regulatory authority’ that is stuck in chaos somewhere between being the MCC and SAHPRA, not even declaring whether it is a government run or a private entity. We can assure you that no-one knows where they stand with regards these licenses, least of all those who are fleecing ignorant “investors” scrambling to get in there first, while the plant remains completely illegal.

If the regulations for the legal Cannabis economy in South Africa do not include the previously disadvantaged under this, the last apartheid law, the underground economy will continue to flourish.

That is a fact, not an opinion.



  1. Lisa kluckow August 28, 2018 at 2:11 am - Reply

    Marijuana is a plant, a god plant and it will prevail and it can save our economy, but corruption is our enemy.

  2. greendalph August 28, 2018 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    To restrict a person from growing, consuming, or trading, Cannabis, in any of its forms…is to restrict a basic human right!

  3. Simphiwe Zalekile August 30, 2018 at 8:34 am - Reply

    My issue with this is people who were/are growing will be neglected and permits will be given to those who are politically connected.

    How can we make sure that the DTI will issue to permits to those who have been growing?

    • Myrtle Clarke September 11, 2018 at 11:48 am - Reply

      There should be no permits or licenses in any form whatsoever for this very reason. Business or organisation registration according to certain reasonable criteria is what is needed. If you read our proposals it is all outlined there. We need strength in numbers to fight against licenses so please stay in touch.

  4. Timothy Canham August 30, 2018 at 8:38 am - Reply

    Please do not forget about the community of eNgoba near Bergville KZN. In 1956, policemen went to burn the marijuana fields of the community which was their only source of economy. A violent skirmish ensued which left 5 policemen dead and many community members also lost their lives. Twenty members of the community were hanged at Pretoria Central prison. You can find out more when you search “Bergville Stories.” My view is that this community should be one of the first to benefit from any shift in marijuana policy, in terms of training, research, development and economic benefits.

    • Myrtle Clarke September 11, 2018 at 11:45 am - Reply

      Thanks Timothy. We know the history and Bergville is certainly on our list. Please can you mail me so that I have your details. We are already in touch with community members on the ground but the more locals we can be in contact with the better. I agree totally with your view that this community should be included in everything going forward.

  5. Ross August 30, 2018 at 8:39 am - Reply

    I had a plan formulated some time back on two fronts. Cannabis and hemp. For Hemp I suggest the following. The government opens a co-op for hemp manufacturing of all lines of hemp goods, and supplies the seed for free. This opens up many job opportunities. Every person can grow hemp in their back yards and go and deliver and sell it to the co-op. This provides income for the poorest of the poor, even if he can only grow 10 m2 behind his shack. For Cannabis the same usage laws as alcohol. 18yrs old – not in public – not while driving – have to have a license to grow more than certain number of plants – have to have a license to sell – small or large scale licenses vary in cost per year. We cant have everyone growing and selling, need to keep some quality in the system. you want various medical strains available and training of the sellers in these fields, so they are not just selling pot to smokers, but medicinal strains for various ailments. It must be a taxable item too. These two short versions can provide employment for millions almost overnight, with huge income for the state coffers. The current growers license agreement for cannabis is extremely restricting in that only the very rich (backhand corruption) will be able to set up a grow business.

    • Myrtle Clarke September 11, 2018 at 11:42 am - Reply

      Yes Ross, the co-op system is a major part of our Proposals for the Legal Regulation of Cannabis n SA. Have you read the document? Hope you can join us somewhere on our tour for a more in depth look at the subject and please comment using the form on our website page once you have read the doc.

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