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Only a government at war with itself could mess up the opportunity to grow cannabis legally in South Africa.

This unfortunate plant sits at the crossroads of religious and racist hypocrisy and the neo-imperialist ‘War on Drugs’ foisted on us by the flailing Nixon administration. Why does the Ramaphosa government continue to enforce obviously racist laws (that the racist USA no longer abide by) to the detriment of the millions of our citizens who will be empowered through cannabis?

The only way to grow cannabis legally in SA is to apply for a Medicinal Cannabis licence through SAHPRA, which forces licence holders to grow this plant as a pharmaceutical product, thereby robbing it of its essence Licence holders are compelled to import seeds from Northern Hemisphere countries, since it is still illegal to propagate seeds for personal use in SA or to sell them in any way. We are forced to be bit part actors in a cannabis industry that negates our traditional strengths – abundant land, water, sunshine and labour as well as the best landrace and heirloom seeds for our climate and people – and favours a sterile western approach to cannabis as medicine with no thought to the wealth of the Wellness industry and traditional healers who have been using cannabis for millennia. Why would a Sangoma be stupid enough to apply for a licence to produce a medicine she doesn’t use at great cost and personal risk, when they already have access to incredible cannabis genetics that have been proven to improve a range of conditions? Why do we not allow our people to empower themselves through the methods of cultivation and genetic selection that have been proven to work?

Some of the answers lie with the church (of all denominations) that has type-cast and vilified cannabis as ‘Die Duiwel se goed’ or ‘Devil’s Weed’ and the carefully crafted narrative that people who consume the plant are wasting their lives, whilst those trying to live the ‘Mainstay’ life are winning – meanwhile the incidence
of foetal alcohol syndrome in South Africa is the highest in the world – but don’t worry because getting smashed is a biblical thing. Our judges and legislators still seem to be singing from that prejudiced psalm book as the recent ‘The Haze Club’ court ruling can attest.

The judge kept relying on the contention of the police that ‘Dealing in Cannabis remains a huge problem for the country’ as if this was some kind of irrefutable fact. The only reason it is called ‘Dealing in cannabis’ and not the sale of medicinal herbs is because of the Apartheid laws we are forced to slavishly abide by. With a stroke of a pen, we could turn dealers into businesspeople and give traditional healers and the Wellness industry a platform out of poverty With so many people hooked on opioids and depression at unprecedented levels,perhaps it is time to question many of the premises underpinning western medicine and its profit imperative?
Please let’s force our government to give us the cannabis laws we deserve! At worst it should be regulated the same way as alcohol and tobacco are in South Africa, though cannabis provides medical, psychological and spiritual benefits that fall outside the narrow prescripts of most Adult-use substances. South Africa has been in a state of limbo concerning cannabis for the last four years, meaning most of those who engage with the plant are still considered criminals
by our existing laws, whilst those with money and international reach are welcomed into the fold with open arms. The false dichotomy between
hemp and cannabis continues to exclude the bulk of the cannabis genetics used by our people since it has too much THC to be classed
hemp, but too little to be classed medicinal grade cannabis. Never mind that it has adapted to our environment over millennia and that
our people have devised myriad ways to grow and beneficiate it. If you want to grow hemp you also need a licence, and since no-one supplies locally sourced hemp seeds, these need to be imported at prices that leave the industry dead in the water. Medicinal cannabis licence holders are sitting with product which doesn’t quite meet EU-GMP standards yet cannot be sold or beneficiated locally. People are losing their minds and their livelihoods trying to grow cannabis in a
country that doesn’t want them to succeed.

Until we change our collective mindset about cannabis, it will continue to be vilified and repressed. Perhaps we need to focus on education as much as building a legitimate industry out of the ashes of prohibition, but until our ‘Rulers’ wake up and smell the weed, we will continue to flounder in the face of a global green revolution.

If we seize some of the opportunities presented to us, we can be a leading light in the green economy and make meaningful change to the lives of our people. I will not stop pushing for this seemingly simple reality and I urge you to do the same.

Written by George Joubert – Flourish Cannabis
George is a regular opinion piece writer for SEED INC ONLINE