KwaZulu-Natal economic development MEC Siboniso Duma on Wednesday welcomed the National Assembly’s approval of a bill to legalise the large-scale cultivation of cannabis in the country.
The measure, called the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill, will now be sent to the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) for deliberation, bringing the measure a step closer to be enacted into law.
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We welcome the passing of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill by the National Assembly. Importantly, we are confident that the National Council of Provinces will move with speed to ensure that the bill is adopted or where necessary, changes are urgently made before further submission to the president for his approval.
“We remain encouraged that we are a step closer to having the bill becoming the act and the law,” Duma said.
The Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs is at the forefront of initiatives to develop a vibrant cannabis industry in the province.
The National Assembly’s approval of the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill comes on the back of last month’s Cannabis Conference hosted by the department in Bergville.
The conference, where small scale cannabis farmers converged in Bergville, saw experts sharing information on the economic benefits of cannabis and hemp farming.
Duma said the department was confident that the launch of the cannabis industry will bring KZN closer to its goal of eradicating poverty in the province.
With about R107 billion of value in the local industry, we are championing radical interventions to ensure that communities get a slice of this amount of money. As we move forward, we are planning to have roadshows to ensure that oGogo [grandmothers], noMkhulu [grandfathers] from Umsinga, Impendle, Mzimkhulu, eShowe and many other areas are involved in the export of cannabis.
“We want them to be integrated into the entire value chain of cannabis up to the export. We want to be the leading exporter of the product and we are making our agencies ready to assist the emerging small players,” he said.
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Apart from being used in the production of fabrics, cannabis is also an important ingredient in medicines used to control diseases, ranging from cancer to conditions related to HIV/ Aids.
Due to the growing demand for cannabis in South Africa and globally, the country’s cannabis sector is expected to be worth more than R200 billion in the next few years.
The department, Duma said, has already lined up financial institutions to back farmers and other players wanting to participate in the cannabis sector.
KZN Growth Fund has a clear funding of millions of rands for the black industrialists programme. Ithala Bank has a mandate of assisting emerging entrepreneurs such as co-operatives and SMMEs.