Tony BuddenBACK TO OUR ROOTSA customer enters a store and notices the familiar leaf design featured on many of the products. They look around, and after seeing the name of the brand, ask the staff member on duty “So ... hemp hey? Does that mean I can smoke the socks?” The first time the joke was made, it was pretty amusing to the staff member. After the twentieth customer to repeat it, not so much.In this often-echoed quip lies one of the core missions Hemporium has undertaken. Founded by Duncan Parker in 1996, Hemporium was born out of his intention to create positive change in Africa and beyond. To illuminate how people and planet could benefit so profoundly from all the incredible benefits of hemp/industrial cannabis. And to show that cannabis is not just about smoking.
BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE In the earlier days of Hemporium there was still a lot of stigma surrounding cannabis and hemp. An unwelcome residue of SA’s conservative past, and of the American propaganda campaigns that fooled us into believing that cannabis was evil and would turn us all into violent psychopaths. But the English word for canvas, with its roots in the word “cannabis”; and the Afrikaans word “hemp” for shirt illustrate our deep connection to the plant, extending long before when it was banned by the USA in the 1930’s.

Restrictive laws continue to be one of the biggest hurdles for any canna-business. Many customers to our stores would furrow their brows, puzzled at how illogical it all was.
“So you’re telling me that there’s a plant that has thousands of uses, that helps heal our planet, that can provide healthy homes and healthy food and medicine – and yet it is illegal?”
That’s correct, and we don’t get it either.

Hemporium was involved in one of the early hemp cultivation trials in South Africa, as far back as 2011. Ten years later we still don’t have a clear framework for legal hemp cultivation.

We do however have a clear idea of what we call “perpetual imminence”. Every year of lobbying along the way adding to the feeling that, surely, legal hemp must be coming soon. And still we wait.
CREAM OF THE CROPIn spite of the legal hurdles, Hemporium is proud of its victories over the years. We have developed over two thousand products. We now offer Africa’s widest range of hemp products including finer textiles, cooler clothing, tougher accessories, purer cosmetics and greener building materials.

With the guidance of Managing Director Phillipa Mohr, Hemporium is now helping to nurture many growing local hemp businesses in fields as diverse as nappies, fashion and interiors. In doing so, helping to solidify hemp and sustainability in the commercial landscape and add to the momentum towards a greener future.

Director Tony Budden has been one of Earth’s foremost champions of hemp. Not only has he talked the talk in countless interviews, international lectures and direct involvement in landmark court cases - including the Constitutional Court challenge that won South Africans the right to grow and use Cannabis in a private space. He also walks the stalk as a living embodiment of all that hemp can do.
He lives in Africa’s first hemp house, built in 2012, and eats, wears and sleeps (in) hemp, leading by example and helping to destigmatise hemp and bring it’s wonders to the world.
This culminated in him being recognised as one of the “Top 100 Cannabis Influencers of All Time” by the Cannabis Business Awards in the USA last year.
Hemporium was one of the first to bring CBD to South Africa, as early as 2015.
This move, although ahead of its time, has not been without its own challenges. Our marketing efforts have been hindered as Google and Facebook forbid any digital ads referencing CBD or hemp, despite these products being legal in SA and the states. Regardless of these stumbling blocks, we are excited to launch our own CBD brand in the coming months.

Other developments to look forward to include our expansion into a new hempcrete-fortified store in Cape Town’s CBD, and of course further explorations into hemp cultivation on local soil, led by director Duncan Parker and our farming partners.
REAP WHAT YOU SOWIt has been very rewarding to have seen the shift in consciousness and awareness around hemp and cannabis over the years. From when many of our would-be customers only knew cannabis as an evil villain. Until today, where hemp and cannabis are now firmly in the mainstream, and finally being recognised as the amazing, game-changing resource they really are.

We are proud of our contribution to that transformation, and are committed to continue that process.
We are still working towards the goal of being a soil to sale company and growing our own fields to produce the products that we sell and continue to lobby and contribute to the creation of enabling regulations to bring forth this reality.

Whether it may be in providing quality hemp products, fostering sustainable business, or educating our customers and the general public; to ensure that hemp takes its rightful place in providing jobs, houses, clothing, nourishment and healing to those in need.
We’re true to our roots. Still here to create positive change, and show the world that no other resource can provide solutions to so many of our problems at so little cost to our planet. Quite a bit more than smoking your socks.