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Market Readiness Author: Druids Garden So many complaints about how the cannabis industry is stalling because of red tape, lack of enabling legislation, role players working in silos, greed, etc., etc. Most of those may be true, but it seems that people like complaining too much, pointing fingers instead of actively doing something to change the situation. Yes, the fledgling local industry has myriad challenges, but what are you doing to help it grow? And equally important, are you taking notice that a lot is actually happening behind the scenes?If you don’t pull your finger out, you will be left behind and have more to moan about. Instead of complaining, let’s get better at working together for the common good, recognising our wins and collectively working on our challenges and short comings as an industry. It is up to us to build the industry that we envisage and many, if not most of the puzzle pieces are already in place.
For example, SA is now home to the tallest hemp building in the world that went up without much fuss and fanfare…. just the result of a dedicated team of people that worked against the odds to achieve their very high goal. Now there is a lesson we can all learn from.
The reality is that behind all the long faces there is actually a lot of development going on in an industry that is growing rapidly. Good things take care, planning and time to come to fruition. One of the biggest gripes is the slow change in legislation. Whilst I agree that the law is not changing fast enough, it is changing, and this is the perfect time to plan and get ready for its imminent rapid expansion. Look at how far we have already come in a few short years. We can go much further in the next few years. DALRRD has issued hundreds of hemp permits and South Africa will become a global hemp player. Yes, there are still critical issues to look at such as access to investment, manufacture of local equipment, zoning, centralised processing and many more. But this is part of the rigorous process required to establish an equitable and sustainable industry. It might not look like it from the outside, but we are well on our way to achieving that.
Provincial departments of agriculture have been slow, but with pressure from above they are beginning to act and support pilot community projects. The public is becoming more educated, and these are the future consumers of our industry goods, whether it be hemp for bricks and superfoods or cannabis for medicine or recreational use.
The medicinal side of the cannabis industry has been slower and drawn a lot more criticism. However, despite the legitimate concerns it is also progressing steadily. The new Bill is far from perfect and will still be panel beaten, but it does lay the foundations for a prosperous local medical and recreational industry that is not controlled by a small elite group. The voice of traditional healers is growing stronger and being heard and Cultural and religious communities are being given special dispensations as a way to bring them into the formalised industry. Although the exact mechanisms have not yet been worked out, they will with positive input from all role players. The involvement of these cultural communities is a big part of ensuring that local people are empowered to own the full value chain so that the cannabis industry benefits all South Africans and is not just another colonial model that benefits a few.
Licensed facilities get a lot of heat, but some are really doing good work training community farmers, facilitating the business structure required for growth and sustainability; and assisting to access investment. But this is often overlooked as it is easier to point fingers at those that are actually doing something, even if it is not yet perfected. So how about we stop complaining and get better at working together to overcome our common challenges for the common good of the industry, consumers and South Africa as a whole. This industry has only just begun and still has a long way to go. We are on the right path and need positive people willing to work together for the benefit of all.
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