Q & A
Author: GROW one AFRICA TeamGrow one Africa’s Director, Kobus Schoeman, gives us the downlow on what GOA actually does, what it means to be a compliant cultivator and how cannabis can play a part in helping to build a sustainable green economy. 1. How did GOA come about?
My wife, Daleen, and I started our journey in the cannabis industry in December 2018 when we opened our doors as Canapax in Oudtshoorn, the second of many of these shops to open across the country. It lasted all of three months before we realised that our proposed model and that of Canapax was vastly different and so, we closed our doors and approached the National Prosecuting Authority to seek clarity on the legality of our club structure. After waiting two months and getting a “we can’t comment on the legality” response, we opened our doors as One Culture. This was another great learning experience and a year later, and as soon as the High Court confirmed that our vision and that of our partners were contradicting, we once again stepped aside and started over. These first 18 months of our canna-rollercoaster-ride had garnered a lot of attention from friends across the country and by the time we started trading as GROW one AFRICA, in June 2020, we had a whole army of eager cannapreneurs lined up and ready to get the industry rolling. We started the GOA journey with 4 independent clubs opening their doors on the same day: Die Boomhuis, Die Joint, The Toke House and Tiny Town.
2. Grow one Africa is a Cannabis Social Club Regulatory Company - What does this mean? What does GOA do?
GOA fills the void left due to the lack of legislation and standards to govern our industry by offering self-regulating compliance measures, setting standards and formulating standard operating procedures for clubs and their members to follow. Although we are not an official government entity, we have developed a cannabis club model that we share freely with anyone interested to start their own and offer systems and apps for clubs, cultivating- and processing members to track and trace and manage their cultivation, processing and club operations. On a day-to-day basis our team helps clubs and cultivators complete their compliance submissions and issues them with reports on their compliance to the model. Our system facilitates the contracts and administration between members and clubs and is also used to calculate reimbursements. Further we do monthly financial compliance audits on clubs, process and pay cultivating- and processing member salaries, pay all associated taxes and issue IRP5’s. Participation in the self-regulating model is voluntary and GOA ensures that everyone follows the code of conduct, rules and regulations.
3. How did you conceptualise the GOA model? Where did you begin?
Although we could learn a lot from international examples, like the Spanish and Uruguay club models, the starting point was the constitutional ruling that decriminalised cannabis in SA and confirmed our constitutional rights. Months of studying the ruling and relevant legislation, heavily assisted with cannabis, lead to appointments with various legal experts and discussions with industry players; all contributing to the model taking shape. We adapted international and local standards like GAP, GMP, ISO and SANS to formulate a model that offers African solutions for African problems. Finally we put it all together using Permaculture as a design science to give it structure and ensure sustainability.
4. There seem to be a lot of cannabis clubs popping up all over the place. What are your feelings on this?
The more the merrier! I think that cannabis clubs are great awareness centres that help break the stigma associated with the plant and bring together like minded individuals that want to contribute to their community. As long as clubs can ensure the safety and quality of their offering and they are busy setting standards and not taking chances, there is definitely a place for them. I will encourage anyone that wants to open a club to do it, but be authentic in what you bring to the table, and remember to be yourself because everyone else is already taken!
5. It’s quite a mission to open up a GOA club. Why have you got such strict club compliance measures in place?
I always say that the solution is in the problem. And the problem here is the lack of legislation or official structure for our industry. That is why we chose the solution of over-regulating ourselves in this time of legislative lacuna, or gap in law. There was no bar, so we set it as high as we could. We can always relax our compliance measures once policy makers catch up, but it would be difficult to implement those measures only once given to us by the government. The real mission is to realise that cannabis is like any other industry and in order to take part you must comply with various laws, municipal by-laws, company regulations and SARS to name but a few. The strict compliance measures are aimed at giving clubs and their members a defensible argument for what they are doing and in my opinion some paperwork beats sleeping on a concrete floor every day of the week.
6. Why would someone choose to open a GOA Club?
GOA is a family, and the same as any other family, you must do your homework and decide whether you want to marry into it. We are strict and we expect all our family members to intently adhere to the self-regulating model and standards set by GOA. We enforce our code of conduct and clubs and members can, and have been in the past, expelled from the voluntary group. The family also offers new clubs an instant community of like minded members that can visit their sister clubs and offer valuable insight into the culture and the industry. We are the original service provider to cannabis clubs in SA and the GOA family is the biggest of all the organised groups of clubs in the country, and still growing. So I guess if you want to do it right, do it with us!
7. How many GOA clubs are there?
Today we offer services to 22 independent clubs, with 7000 members, 130 cultivating and processing members in the GOA family that employs1200 people currently.
8. Can anyone go visit one of these clubs?
Only adults are allowed, some clubs have an age limit of 18 and others 21. Make sure to check our website for details of the club nearest you. www.growone.africa
9. How does one become a member?
Watch a video online that explains what GOA does, select the club you want to join, answer a few questions to confirm you understand the model and complete a needs assessment to determine how much cannabis you require from the club. Once approved by the committee, go to your club to have your ID verified, selfie photo taken, signature captured and to pay your initial membership. The application and verification process takes 10 minutes and the monthly memberships are very affordable.
11. I bet you get this question a lot - I think I grow some pretty good cannabis. Can I become a cultivator for GOA?
You’re right, this is quite common, funny though that the samples they bring you is never the best that they have grown before! The beauty of this system is that it is accessible to everyone, and although not everyone turns out to be a master grower, they can still get the opportunity to try their hand at it. Link in with your club, attend the cultivation and processing workshops, sharpen up your skills, get acquainted with the GOA SOPs and requirements and most importantly build a relationship with your club’s compliance officer that will assist you in creating a cultivation/processing plan. These are matched up with the member needs assessment and if you meet the grade you will be supplying your fellow club members’ demand in no time.
12. What role would you ideally like to see cannabis play in the South African and African economy?
I see cannabis as the spearhead crop that will unlock plant wealth in Africa. It is a sacred plant and the common discriminator bringing together all tribes on our continent. It is our duty, through industrialisation, to give cannabis its rightful place as a superfood, powerful medicine, a sacred sacrament and an industrial wonder product. It is up to us to make the next 10 years green, a thriving green economy for a thriving green Africa, growing its own future!