High time cannabis sector got legislation framework in South Africa

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And next year will see even more demand for labour as the country expands the number of legal cannabis products to include edibles and concentrates. In addition, the Canadian cannabis industry could create roughly 125,000 jobs in the first year after legalisation.”

Here at home, there has recently been an expo in Pretoria, focusing on education and innovative products and businesses serving the cannabis industry and its medicinal, agricultural, financial and lifestyle aspects. Given that SA has an exceptionally high unemployment rate at 27.5%, any industry that promises job creation should receive some attention from policymakers.

Be that as it may, the economic prospects must be balanced with the need to ensure public safety. In this regard, legal development is required to specify the conditions under which a responsible cannabis industry can be developed.

Following an essay I wrote on November 20 about SA’s potential “dagga-belt” in the former Transkei, there has been growing interest from agricultural policymakers who promise to study this plant closely in the coming months so that we too can have a cannabis industry that makes a productive contribution to the SA economy, but in a responsible and controlled manner.

At the moment, cannabis has been decriminalised in SA for private use, but the conditions and boundaries still need to be developed. To attain the jobs gains seen in Canada, the focus should be on international trade and processing the plant to export products in a form that is acceptable and legal in export destinations that are further along the line than we are.

Globally, there is a long list of companies that are involved in this plant that SA could look to as a target market, in addition to other destinations where it has been legalised for medicinal purposes.

There is a need for clear legislation work in SA to outline the production conditions if cannabis were to be permitted for international trade.

Aside from cannabis, I was somewhat surprised by the concerns about red-meat prices given that there has been a deceleration in price inflation in the past couple of months, driven by an increase in cattle slaughtering activity. Data from the Red Meat Levy Admin shows that SA farmers slaughtered 220,534 head of cattle in October 2018, up by 13% from the previous month and by a percentage point from the same period in 2017. This was partly responsible for a deceleration in meat prices of 2,8% in November. So meat prices are still increasing, but at a much slower pace than the double-digit increases that we saw a year ago.

Overall, there is likely to be a further increase in livestock slaughtering and meat supply in December, which could suppress price inflation further, a welcome development for SA consumers looking to have a braai or two this festive season.