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SA Cannabis Industry MARKET READINESS Author: Cian McClelland 2022 has become a tiresome rendition of replays, which seem to echo decades of the tireless sacrifices afforded by many in efforts to free the cannabis plant. This year has certainly had its fair share of cannabis-related incidents. Policing entities have continued to endorse heavy-handed criminal justice tactics, and the prevalence of ongoing cannabis-related arrests plague media pages daily. Despite the dismal outlook and stagnation of progress, Cian McClelland, a distinguished member of our cannabis community and chief executive officer of Druids Garden, says there are still many reasons to remain optimistic about the future of cannabis in SA. Cian has been a strong voice in advocating the desperate need for governance change and offered his view on our current state of market readiness.
On the part of SAPRHA, setbacks have included a lack of in-depth knowledge of the industry and the resources required to implement their mandate. Coordination between the large number of government departments, that have a voice on cannabis issues has been the "crux" in what many believe should be a thriving economic sector in a country where trade values are failing at an astronomical pace.
It is imperative that foundational support systems culminate in practical and achievable economic assistance programs. This will help stabilise what is currently referred to as a legislative ants nest faced by those looking to invest in cannabis or hemp in South Africa.
Offering a positive, fresh perspective following public disapproval and outcry after the Haze Club court ruling this year is not an easy task. In public opinion, the Constitutional Rights Charter allows adult cannabis use within government policy regulations based on criteria specified in the General Regulations of the current Drug and Drug Trafficking Control Act and the notorious Medicines Control Act.
Coupled with the already complicated task of formulating an open, and most imperatively, a cannacentric community interest, it has simply been a matter of "getting everyone to the table", a task which is yet to materialise practically.
Understanding the readiness of a sector within South Africa which is splitting at the seams has been a frustrating concept in light of the misinformation and complete lack of understanding offered by "critical" government departments concerning the unregulated industry, which has, and continues to exist regardless of legislative pressures and confines. The government has dragged its feet, resulting in a quick and mass exit of various interests in preference of business practice which has operated sufficiently, without the government's premise, for decades in SA. Hemp farmers have finally begun the costly and overly complicated task of salvaging some returns on substantial capital investments following delays by governmental departments.
Cian cited some of the effective gains made over the last year by the cannabis community and various economic stakeholders as progressive.
We edge government and the general public ever closer to what a select few see as" the only lifeline" citizens can place hope in, as our basic services infrastructure fails daily. Job creation and demand for cannabis and hemp internationally have put South African-produced products in high demand. Still, unless we see a formidable change in "hands-on assistance" in building the cannabis value chain as a South African initiative, there will be little benefit for the average cannabis consumer domestically. The ability and drive to support a diverse set of avenues within the cannabis sector can easily be translated into practical guides and a legislative framework that all public and governmental interests can agree to when every voice is heard. Cian believes it is now more critical than ever that the cannabis community dissolve industry differences and unite. Only by working together can the aim for drastic realignment of governments' cannabis value policies and a driving directive focused on capitalising on a multi-billion-rand industry be achieved.