Cannabis high on state agenda to unlock jobs and economic growth
President Cyril Ramaphosa says his government will formulate policy on the use of cannabis products ‘for medicinal purposes, to build this country in line with global trends’
The presidential working committee on jobs has rallied behind the government’s plans to legalise cannabis to unlock economic growth and job creation.
The committee, which meets at the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) every month, comprises government, business, labour and community stakeholders.
Its meeting on Monday followed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s state of the nation address (Sona) in February, where he announced that they would open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products in 2020 to provide opportunities to small-scale farmers.
Ramaphosa also said his administration would formulate policy on the use of cannabis products “for medicinal purposes, to build this country in line with global trends”.
The committee meeting also follows finance minister Tito Mboweni’s budget speech last week, in which he announced plans to cut the public sector wage bill by more than R160bn over the next three years. But this has been harshly criticised by public sector unions, who want the government to cut corruption, and wasteful and fruitless expenditure instead.
The meeting focused, among other things, on progress made on digital migration and the use of cannabis for industrial and medicinal use, and its contribution to job creation, Business Unity SA president Sipho Pityana told Business Day.
Godfrey Selematsela, president of union federation Fedusa, said they supported the legalisation of cannabis as long as it was not done “haphazardly” and was aimed at growing the ailing economy.
“The issue of cannabis and hemp, in our view, will assist in creating jobs in SA. Therefore, it is important that [cannabis] is not classified as a drug as per the current legislation,” said Selematsela.
Countries that have legalised cannabis for medical use include Germany, Australia, Italy, Norway, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Jamaica.
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