The South African government has made strides in the development of a policy for the hemp and cannabis sector. The reforms are looking to unlock the potential of cannabis in African traditional medicine, pharmaceutical and complementary medicines, human and animal ingestion, and multiple industrial applications, the presidency has said.
This comes after many African states that prosecuted citizens for cannabis-related offences for years, are now promoting legal cannabis production. Over the past five years, 10 countries have passed laws to legalize production for medical and scientific purposes. These include Lesotho, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Uganda, Malawi, Zambia, Ghana, eSwatini, Rwanda and Morocco.
However, according to The Conversation, there are still policy and practical concerns requiring attention if the cannabis sector reforms are to have a positive impact on the economy and citizens' livelihoods. These include the need to ensure participation of ordinary producers in the legal cannabis sector. This is because the emerging regulation frameworks seem to favor corporate businesses over smallholder farmers.
The limited scope of legal production, the high license fees and business set-up costs and other conditions are likely to limit participation of many smallholder producers who lack the resources to establish legal cannabis businesses.