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ISSUE 6Cultivating HarmoniouslyBruce Coetzee We are truly blessed with the multitude of cannabis warriors fighting the battle for freedom of the plant, here in South Africa. Some having walked a treacherous path in pursuit of emancipation for both consumers, and the right of choice itself. Amongst the resounding voices now heading great changes for the cannabis community, and rectifying governments stance on its classification, is none other than BioMuti founder and CEO, Mr Gaster Tebogo Tlhopane.
Tebogo started out in 2017 and ushered into a Big Pharma dominated market by offering clientele naturally manufactured supplements, personal care, body care and skin care products, both produced and distributed locally. The infusion of natural botanical extracts sourced from local producers has allowed for consistent quality assurance over the years, and coupled with a humble, ethical approach to business, has seen this proudly South African company gain a loyal customer base.
Tebogo explained that the company had opted to change the “game plan" and not grow the botanicals used in their products themselves. This is a big part of the core principles that sparked the birth of BioMuti and included an unwavering commitment to empowering traditional cultivators. Education and training have seen projects succeed in areas where growing would otherwise be impossible like townships and resource scarce land by using advanced “vertical growing" methods. Through the technical training and assistance via in house genetics and clones, Tebogo and the team at Biomuti offer informal producers of various herbal plants, a means of generating income, while upgrading and gaining new skills simultaneously through working alongside qualified, knowledgeable individuals within BioMuti.
Tebogo gave some insight to current developments with regard to the “game changers" we hope to see materialise in lei of what can only be described as the “new era of cannabis" for our politician’s. “What government needs to do is remove cannabis from the drugs and drugs trafficking control act as a whole". Simply put, this is the most crucial, and intricate step in developing any formalised cannabis economy, according to Tebogo.
He believes that legitimising current growers, without suppressing their formalisation into the market through unrealistic operational regulations, is a key step in moving forward. While the first draft of the “private use and purposes bill" fell short in addressing a recreational sector within the cannabis industry, Tebogo voiced his faith in the changes presented by the second draft, and that it may be more in line with what is so drastically needed to satisfy both government and public stakeholders. “The tax revenue and employment benefits are swaying government and entities, including individuals who have voiced strong resistance to an inclusive master plan in the past". Emphasising the hope which was sparked two years ago at the State of the nation address, and then the subsequent withering of all progress during the Covid pandemic, it is with renewed faith that we see dialog manifesting as real opportunities, one of which is the recent post made available by government for establishing a cannabis desk within the presidency, essentially a technical cannabis and hemp advisory position, which hopes to amalgamate the chaos that has ensued as a result of the multitude of ministries and departments failing to see a common purpose. “A deep understanding of the culture and history of medicinal plants of this land, and not just the ability to grow is of upmost importance when considering applicants". BioMuti seem confident about where the general cannabis consensus has gradually shifted in governments views on open and decriminalised trade here in South Africa. Tebogo and the company has sought to invest at a fundamental level, and this is perhaps a lesson not to be taken lightly as the global cannabis industry “hits the ground rolling!”.