Agriculture, land reform and rural development minister Thoko Didiza says her department will start issuing permits for production of hemp in October this year.
Didiza was addressing a mini-plenary session of the National Assembly about her department’s R16.9bn budget on Thursday afternoon. She said legalisation and commercialisation of cannabis had been at the forefront of public debate and on top of the agenda of policymakers, not only in SA but globally.
In SA, the Constitutional Court effectively decriminalised personal use and growing of cannabis in a groundbreaking ruling in 2018, and further ordered politicians to fix the law on the matter.
The ruling opened space for further lobbying for decriminalisation of cannabis and hemp for commercial and medical use.
“An interdepartmental team was established to guide the development of the National Cannabis Master Plan, with ourselves the convener.
“The master plan is being presented to Nedlac before the end of May 2021. As the department, working with the department of justice, we have agreed that by October 2021 we will begin issuing and monitoring permits for the production of hemp in SA.
“We hope that the portfolio committee on justice will fast-track the removal of hemp from the drug-trafficking legislation so that we can indeed move with speed with commercialisation of hemp as the first phase,” said Didiza.
She told the sitting that her department had released more than 43,000ha of land in a year. “The land is an asset that can liberate women, not only in terms of ownership but also in the productive use of this asset for economic participation and livelihood. Last year, President Ramaphosa announced that the government would release 700,000ha of state land for agricultural purposes.
“These land parcels included communities who have been using state land, farmers whose leases had either expired or never existed and some where no allocations were made,” said Didiza.