Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

The department of trade & industry has commissioned research into obstacles and opportunities to SA being an active player in the growing market for cannabis.

The outcome of the study would determine the way forward in terms of industrialising the sector, trade & industry minister Rob Davies said in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Inkatha Freedom Party MP Narend Singh.

Once the study was concluded, he would engage the ministers of health and agriculture, forestry & fisheries on the issue, Davies said.

The department recognised the potential value to be derived from cannabis and related products, he said.

Following Lesotho’s lead earlier in the year, Zimbabwe’s government decided to allow commercial production of cannabis for medical and research purposes.

“Opportunities and obstacles to develop industrial capacity and capability across the medicinal and related products will be considered,” Davies said.

The focus of the research would be obstacles and opportunities involved in cultivation of various strains of cannabis; recovery of compounds in oil extraction; and beneficiation of these compounds through the production of medical products using multiple delivery systems such as vapes, sprays, tablets, oils as well as cosmetic and health-care products such as balms, creams and tinctures.

In a landmark judgment in Cape Town in March 2017, Judge Dennis Davis decriminalised the possession, cultivation and use of cannabis in the privacy of a home.

Five cabinet ministers, including Davies, and the National Prosecuting Authority took the Davis finding on appeal to the Constitutional Court, but the court has still not handed down judgment since its hearing in November.

ensorl@businesslive.co.za