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ISSUE 6Let's Talk About "Cultivating Harmoniously"An Interview with Anthony Cohen The South African cannabis community has been anxiously awaiting signs of progression, that would hopefully have stemmed from President Cyril Ramaphosa's speech at the most recent state of the nation address. While many of the industry and public stakeholders feel SAHPRA has purposefully set about criteria which is both unrealistic, and serves to benefit only a select few, government reaffirmed its intentions to not only invest, but to facilitate an “all-inclusive industry”, reaching the existing producers and potential small to medium enterprises.
A recent discussion with renowned South African business owner Anthony Cohen, brought to light some optimistic views for downstream cultivators, while heralding the warning signs he has personally seen develop when government’s fail to formulate regulations that actually serve the people. Anthony serves as co-founder of CTAA (Cannabis Trade Association Africa). Essentially aimed at providing a platform by which to protect, while simultaneously educate individuals directly, or indirectly involved in the cannabis community. We asked Anthony to provide some direction in terms of what public entities and individuals can do in order to fast track and support efforts that would hopefully prepare for the big changes promised by government.
The basic consensus according to Anthony lies in the lengthy and “aberrant attitude" government and SAHPRA have taken from the word go.
“Cultivators and public stakeholders alike need to recognise this opportunity and lay solid foundations through unifying under a common interest". The resounding effects of working with an existing cannabis industry, as opposed to enforcing stringent regulations that by virtue of cost and a lack of support exclude a vast majority of these individuals from acquiring licences via SAHPRA, this has been the crux in delaying the positive government actions people promised would transpire after the 2018 Constitutional Court rulings which, “lit up”, our current debacle, excuse the pun.
Anthony also provided some insight into the confusing nature of our governments proposed Cannabis Master Plan by stating that, “The proposed plan is non inclusive, not practical and by no means seeks to serve the best interests of the current cannabis industry, or the people who will be most likely effected".
Failure to take heed from countries who have followed along similar routes will have detrimental consequences, and Anthony reiterated his view that it’s time for drastic change, before the industry becomes a testament to “big-pharma”, and its tactics. Education and a genuine interest in collectively working towards a plan which openly allows for the market to grow, and flourish is at the forefront of Elixinol efforts, and more importantly the CEO Anthony Cohen’s strategy. The company currently engages South Africans through its numerous social media and website channels including most recently an online consultation service. Focussed on providing Full spectrum CBD oils of distinguished quality, the company has sought to engage and establish a dialogue through highlighting the benefits their products can offer.
Whether South Africans will see the words of our president materialise is a debatable topic when across South Africa, individuals and potential revenue is being waylaid in favour of a narrow understanding displayed by organisations like SAHPRA. Anthony offered these words to the uncertain community and in so doing reverberated the need to unite and make the voices heard by supporting initiates such as CTAA.“Education and formulating good futures, along with people sharing a common interest is what the cannabis industry should focus on, gone are the days of SAHPRA! It’s time for drastic change, if we don’t stand together now then all we can do is pray!”