When Cannabis is Legalised in SA – Who Will Profit Most?
South Africa needs to wake up and see the opportunities that legalising cannabis will bring to the country, writes Dave Martin, co-founder of the Bulungula Incubator, a rural development NGO. He says that the rural poor would benefit greatly from growing and selling good quality cannabis to legalised medical cannabis agents. South Africa is battling under waves of chronic unemployment and water shortages so, instead of prosecuting small growers for growing cannabis illegally, support them to grow it legally and on a much bigger scale.
Says Martin: “By far the biggest challenge facing our rural youth is violence and other social ills caused by unemployment and alcohol abuse. Giving our rural youth an opportunity to earn good money from farming will reduce the time and motivation to abuse alcohol and other drugs. But government needs to move on this opportunity now. If not, the commercial agriculture sector will capture this opportunity and it will be lost forever.”
Job Creation for South Africa’s Rural Poor
Most rural farmers have a wealth of knowledge already regarding how to grow cannabis under the right conditions and there remains plenty of land space in what we call the “former homelands”. Additional needs are warehouses to sort the cannabis during the harvest season and then it would be sold to outlets which make the medical cannabis. From here it would go to shops and be sold online. The path of job creation is obvious, the opportunities endless. Martin says the biggest challenge would be to keep this idea out of the hands of commercial farmers who may steal the opportunity and run with it. It is by far the easiest way to pull hundreds of people from their poverty pit and turn them into marijuana farmers.
It is sad that many farmers who were trying to grow cannabis sit behind bars today while the rich sit on their balconies smoking joints. The cannabis is out there, on the black market, and everyone is buying it. Make it legal, enforce proper growing conditions and regulations, and everyone benefits, especially the growers. The price for cannabis now is more than R50 000 per kilogram wholesale in the USA! Meanwhile, South Africa’s rural poor people sit without jobs, without water and sanitation and few of them can barely read and write. Why the huge imbalance?
An Opportunity for Legal Cannabis Farming
“It seems certain that within the next few years, the use of medical marijuana will be legal throughout the world and that the recreational use of marijuana will be legalised or decriminalised in a steadily increasing number of countries. It is now well known that recreational marijuana can be bought and used legally in Uruguay, Canada and eight states within the US,” says Dave Martin. South Africans are awaiting the decision to be made by the High Court around dagga legalisation while people continue to use it at home, create their own medicinal products and smoke when they can.
A golden opportunity awaits all South Africans, in particular our poor rural populations – to grow cannabis legally and make a living as recognised and supported farmers.