Cannabis a 'high-growth' sector for jobs and investment, says City of Cape Town

Hemp and cannabis are "ripe for the picking" when it comes to boosting economic opportunities in the City of Cape Town. 

The City's mayor committee member for economic opportunities and asset management, James Vos on Sunday issued a statement indicating that hemp and cannabis products may help create jobs.

The statement comes just days after President Cyril Ramaphosa announced in the State of the Nation Address that government plans to "regulate the commercial use of hemp products" and form a policy on the use of cannabis products for medical purposes, in line with global trends.

The City so far has also recognised the growth potential of this emerging sector.

"We have identified foreign investment interest and the possibility it bringing in significant income, jobs, and skills," Vos said. "The City Council has already released several parcels of land in Atlantis for purchase by the private sector for the production of medical cannabis," he added.

Cannabis and industrial hemp are derived from the species of Cannabis sativa, but they are different strains, Vos explained. Medical cannabis is legal and produced under specific and regulated conditions, while hemp is used to make rope, textiles, clothing, shoes, food and biofuel, among other things.

While raw hemp materials and products can be imported under specific conditions, hemp cultivation is forbidden, Vos said. He intends to write to Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize and the Medicines Control Council to request an update on the progress in allowing hemp farming.

"I will also write to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, as the body that adjudicates applications for medicinal cannabis, to ask for an update on the registration of medicinal cannabis," he added.

In January Finance Minister Tito Mboweni took to Twitter to ask users their views on legalising cannabis, given the potential to grow provincial economies and bolster tax revenue collections.

In 2018, the Constitutional Court legalised the private possession, use and cultivation of cannabis.