The medicines regulator has awarded its first batch of licences for cultivating cannabis for medical purposes to local companies. This paves the way for them to gain a foothold in an international industry projected to be worth $50bn in the next decade. Local players need to comply with stringent regulations put in place by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) to capitalise on this rapidly growing market. These rules are intended to protect consumers and ensure that cannabis grown for medical purposes is not diverted to the black market. But the slow pace at which Sahpra has processed cultivation licences has frustrated many players, and cost at least one local player a potential investment partner. In 2018, Canadian-based LGC Capital pulled out of its option to acquire a 30% equity stake in KwaZulu-Natal’s House of Hemp through its joint venture with AfriAg because House of Hemp did not have the requisite commercial licences. House of Hemp is now among th...

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