On 29 October 2021, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (“the Minister”) announced the opening of the application process for hemp permits following the declaration of hemp as an agricultural crop under the Plant Improvement Act of 1976 (“the Plant Act”). The Plant Act provides for import and export control of certain plants and propagating material, maintaining the quality of such plants and propagating material, and ensuring the usefulness of the products thereof for agricultural and industrial purposes.
Hemp is defined as low THC plants or parts of plants of Cannabis sativa L. cultivated for agricultural or industrial purposes, of which the leaves and flowering heads do not contain more than 0.2% THC. The declaration of hemp as an agricultural crop now allows importation, exportation, cultivation, sale and research of hemp in South Africa subject to the conditions set out in the Plant Act and its Regulations.
The Minister remarked that “this is a step towards the development of the Cannabis Master Plan, which aims to provide a broad framework for the development and growth of the South African cannabis industry in order to contribute to economic development, job creation, inclusive participation, rural development and poverty alleviation.”
The link to the statement made by the Minister: https://www.gov.za/speeches/minister-didiza-announces-opening-application-process-hemp-permits-29-oct-2021-0000
Notwithstanding the declaration of hemp as an agricultural crop under the Plant Act, the commercial use of dagga remains prohibited in terms of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992.
The guidelines and procedures with regard to the requirements, forms and actions role-players need to take in order to comply with the legislative requirements for the cultivation of hemp in South Africa for agricultural and industrial purposes are accessible on the department’s website: https://www.dalrrd.gov.za/Branches/Agricultural-Production-Health-Food-Safety/Plant-Production/Hemp-Low-THC-Cannabis-Regulatory-System
Contact details for enquiries provided by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development:
Ms Francina Rakgahla, Tel: 012 319 6092
Mr Cecil Mogase, Tel 012 319 6224
Ms Gloria Maboe, Tel 012 319 6150
This article was authored by candidate attorney Barr-Mary Tyzack.