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Hopeful Home Run for Hemp and Cannabis Industry Author: Bruce CoetzeeWith a deep sense of excitement and trepidation, various stakeholders, both private and governmental, look to the future of the local cannabis and hemp industry. The long and treacherous road travelled since the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling is now echoing what many believe to be uncharted and uncertain ground for a sector that, although on par with the global movement, has presented its own set of challenges for the South African people, and above all government.Setbacks in opening a dialogue that includes a long-serving unregistered cannabis market, which facilitates a number of cannabis and hemp producers nationally, laid the foundation for a series of continual issues arising from interdepartmental inadequacies and governmental miscommunication, compounded even further by continued strong-handed tactics, have now brought the sector to the brink of collapse, for many invested parties. Government reaffirmed its proposal to not only accommodate a broader, more inclusive Cannabis and Hemp Master plan in a recent State of the nation address but gave a detailed synopsis of where and what the capitalisation of resources that have built and supported the informal market would be concentrated, alongside new ventures, has once again failed to deliver on public expectations repeatedly. The president also gave insight into the government's avenues of interest, which centre around the Project Vulindlela initiative, effectively providing an approach, which seeks to incorporate the mechanisms of operation, stemming from various ministries, departments, and separate entities in an effort to implement sustainable and beneficial structural reform. Earlier this month, a decision was taken regarding the appointment of a suitably qualified individual who would serve as Policy Head concerning issues and subjective matters in the cannabis and hemp sector. Garth Strachan has served as Deputy General for the Department of Trade and Industry. He will work hand in hand to facilitate the "unlocking of the cannabis and hemp industry" in South Africa. Whilst Operation Vulindlela falls under the strong arm of the National Treasury, the primary principals focus on providing supportive structures, including the coordination of all collective interests.
The efforts of his new position will also hope to see solid ground as the implementation of the government's Cannabis Master plan takes effect. Profound commitment to developing a strong, globally competitive market for local cannabis production stakeholders will form part of a multifaceted approach to long-standing issues. The Hemp and Cannabis Master plan is the shared responsibility of various departments, including the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development, and land reform, who have been tasked with expediting the significant potential within the sector. Slow and frustrating progress has become synonymous with South African domestic investment policies and approaches; however, the appointment of Garth Strachan may indicate "greener days ahead!". The Criminal Justice discord, and continued inefficiency of SAHPRA have left a wake of disconcerting evidence for stakeholders in tough economic times. It begs to question the motives relating to delays that could see economic values and employment rates expel South Africans from our current cycle of poverty.