Is South Africa Gradually Opening to the Cannabis Market?

The slow developments of cannabis law in South Africa may be pointing out to a bright future.
Written by 
Luca Marani, Cannabis Educator.
|Last Updated:
Legal Cannabis

According to Hemp Today, South Africa finally processed the rescheduling of CBD that was announced in February but then suspended due to the coronavirus lockdown. Currently, South Africa is one of the three nations in Africa allowing the cultivation of medical cannabis. However, obtaining a license in the country can be a tough process.

The current state of the law

The Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965 (Medicines Act) historically instructed the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), to regulate the availability of medicines, according to their safety, efficacy and clinical purpose. This also implies that SAHPRA is required to apply standards for the manufacturing, distribution, selling and marketing of these medicines, and this also includes cannabis. According to the Medicines Act, doctors have the right to apply to SAHPRA to obtain permission to access and prescribe cannabis to their patients, which will be administered only for specific conditions.

Potential cannabis grow operation have to take into account that production, under the Medicines Act, is regulated according to the United Nations Single Convention. Therefore, the any legal activity involving cannabis products can only take place once the applicant obtains both a license issued by SAHPRA and a permit issued by the Department of Health. These licenses and permits are issued after thorough inspection and approval of the business plans, quality-control procedure and facilities the applicants provide. The reason for this stringent evaluation process is that it is meant to guarantee safety of the product for medical use.

What the rescheduling of CBD implies

The rescheduling of cannabidiol (CBD) from Schedule 7, which made it a highly regulated substance, to Schedule 4, means it can now be sold, provided there is a prescription. For licensed cannabis cultivators in South Africa, this implies having access to a variety of new markets for their product. Industrial hemp producers that grow for fiber or seed, for example, will now have a much easier time navigating the production and distribution process.

A promising atmosphere

As reported by Businesstech, a Prohibition Partners report evaluated the potential of the South African cannabis industry, and found it could end up being worth more than $20 billion by 2023. Moreover, Tito Mboweni, South Africa’s Minister of Finance, earlier this year declared that he is in favor of legalizing the cannabis market. Also President Cyril Ramaphosa, in the last State of the Nation, supported for the economic motor represented by the cannabis industry. And although these are still uncertain times, hose businesses that have the resources to reach compliance with the current regulations are in to make millions in the next decades.


Luca Marani
Luca Marani
Cannabis Educator
Luca Marani is an educator and content creator from Italy. He graduated in 2017 from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona, Spain, with a Master of Arts in Political Philosophy, writing a dissertation on what was the state of the medical cannabis legislative framework in Spain at the time, and how it affected the rights of the Spanish medical cannabis users community to dignity and quality of life.

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