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.