For decades, the growth and use of cannabis (also known as marijuana, weed, pot, dagga) for either recreational and/or medicinal purposes remained prohibited in almost every part of the world.
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Despite its illegality, marijuana use has been fairly common as it remained one of the most popular illegal drugs used in the world. Only most recently have some countries (Canada,
Switzerland, Peru, Portugal, Italy etc.) decriminalised cannabis use, with others restricting its use for medicinal purposes only (Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Greece etc.).
Most African countries have remained adamant to decriminalise the use of cannabis, except for Lesotho and Zimbabwe which recently legalised growth of marijuana for medicinal use.
It was only last year on the 18th of September when the South African constitutional court legalised adult use of cannabis in private and growing enough for personal consumption.
Many celebrated this long awaited court’s decision such that a competition titled “Bushmastery” was launched from January to May 2019, offering R1000 cash to anyone who can grow the biggest cannabis plant in the country.
One could argue that this may be a strategy to encourage cannabis growers to venture into the burgeoning global cannabis industry. South Africa is amongst the very first few African countries to legalise marijuana use even though its usage is limited to the private sphere.
What are the implications of this legalisation of marijuana for the country?
The cannabis plant is known to possess significant medicinal properties and health benefits, therefore, this is another interesting avenue to be explored at this upcoming conference.
But then, although private personal consumption of cannabis was legalised, smoking it in public and trading the plant (buying and selling) remains illegal.
Yet commercialisation of the crop could actually help to boost the country’s economy considering the booming global cannabis market.
The American cannabis analytics company New Frontier Data suggested that legal cannabis could generate almost $132 billion in federal tax revenue by 2025 in the United States (Washington Post).
80 000 new jobs were created in the American state of California alone due to cannabis sales. So what can South Africa learn from this?
According to analytical strategy development professional Vladislav Lakcevic in his MBA thesis, legalising cannabis in South Africa will likely result in increased tax revenue coupled with decreased government expenditure on law enforcement.
Interestingly, despite actively enforced prohibition, South Africa is said to be a major producer and global supplier of cannabis (United Nations office on drugs).
Would it be possible to legalise the trading of cannabis and then come up with an authentic
framework to regulate the industry which could generate billions for
Moreover, just how much growth of cannabis is considered enough for personal consumption? And what are the implications of legalising marijuana for organisations (the work place)?
Since the drug remains in a person’s bloodstream for hours to days or even
weeks after use, how can businesses set boundaries for marijuana use in the workplace?
Furthermore, it is also interesting to note that global beverage company Coca-Cola has intentions of developing cannabis-infused beverages which contain the ingredient cannabidiol, considering the growing market of the industry. What kind of ingredient is cannabidiol and what effects does it carry along?
In fact, South African brewery, Poison City Brewing, recently produced a cannabis-infused beer, Durban Poison, the first beer to be developed in the country. What does all this imply for the local cannabis industry?
This conference offers a platform to discuss and shed light on all these issues.
It is not surprising that certain conservatives in South Africa, mostly in religious and political circles, are not pleased with the court’s decision to legalise marijuana, arguing that there is “objective proof of the harmful effects of cannabis” (The Telegraph, UK). It can
be argued that nothing has without effects!
In fact, studies have shown that legalisation of cannabis poses certain public health risks.
Although the health benefits of cannabis have been widely celebrated, one should not overlook the pitfalls of marijuana legalisation.
This ongoing debate on the decriminalisation of cannabis use is a pressing issue that needs attention.
Hence, these issues are amongst the objectives of this conference, in order to gain more insight on the various effects of cannabis, both negative and positive, to discuss ways in which the plant can be utilised in doing more good than harm, and to explore the importance of growing the plant not only to the individual citizen, but also to the country as a whole, which could open up the eyes of those conservatives who seem to be against the legalisation of cannabis use.
- Government agencies
- Non-Governmental organisations
Objectives of the conference
• To evaluate the laws and policies around cannabis with particular focus on the importance of legalising and legitimising its growth and use in
• To investigate the pitfalls of cannabis legalisation.
• To examine the implications of marijuana legalisation for businesses/ organisations (the workplace).
• To explore the business opportunities offered by the cannabis industry and how marijuana legalisation helps to boost the country’s economy.
• To examine the medicinal properties and health benefits of cannabis.
• To assess the risks associated with use of cannabis.
• To help enlighten potential cannabis growers on how to grow high quality cannabis crop and how to obtain a grower’s permit/license.
• To network industry experts and enthusiasts
- Peter Searll, Managing Director Transformus
- Dr. Mary Nel, Senior Lecturer: Public Law Stellenbosch University
- Paul-Michael Keichel, Partner Schindlers Attorneys
- Jeremy Acton, Founder Dagga Party of South Africa
- Rhys Evans, Director ALCO-Safe
- Krithi Thaver, Founder Canna Culture and Holistic Releaf
- Shaun Shelly, Founder SA Drug Policy, also co-chair of SANPUD Media Partners
- Swayam Dash, Co-founder & Managing Director Grand View Research, Inc.
- Rajat Saxena, Assistant Manager Healthcare Research and Consulting Grand View Research, Inc.
- Myrtle Clarke and Julian Stobbs (Dagga Couple), Founders Fields of Green for All
- Peter-William Nel, CEO, Head Engineer Green Engineering Solutions
- Jason Law, Managing Director Cannabis Development Council of the Eastern Cape (CDCEC)
- Gad Avnon, Program/Clinical Director Harmony Retreat
- Kareema Shaik, Senior Associate Adams and Adams