Gauteng premier David Makhura has announced plans to establish the country’s first cannabis hub as part of a R45 billion development in the Vaal River area.
Presenting his state of the nation address on Monday (21 February), Makhura said that the cannabis hub will primarily focus on growing cannabis for medical use, and would not be sold recreationally.
He added that the Vaal River development will include a number of other features including:
- A green hydrogen innovation hub
- An aerotropolis and aerodrome
- A steel manufacturing sector
“All the four municipalities in the district have collectively made land available for this Special Economic Zone development. Notwithstanding some delays in the finalisation of the master plan, we are firmly on track to kickstart the revitalisation of the Sedibeng economy this year,” he said.
The government has identified cannabis as a key economic differentiator for South Africa in the coming years.
In his February state of the nation address, president Cyril Ramaphosa said that his cabinet will fast-track regulations for the cannabis industry in South Africa, estimating that hemp and cannabis production can create as many as 130,000 new jobs for the country.
He added that these products, which have been farmed for numerous purposes in the past, will now be industrialised. “We want to harness this,” the president said. “We are going to fast-track policy and regulations for the use of cannabis for medicinal use, especially in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.”
The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill is currently making its way through parliament following its introduction in September 2020.
The bill outlines possession rules for cannabis users at home and people who wish to cultivate the plant. It also introduces new offences and provisions for people who previously received a criminal record for cannabis possession.
The draft bill states that an adult person may for personal use:
- Possess the prescribed quantity of cannabis plant cultivation material;
- Cultivate the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a private place;
- Possess in private the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a public place;
- Possess the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a private place;
- Possess in private the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a public place.
The bill defines a ‘private place’ as any place, including a building, house, room, shed, hut, tent, mobile home, caravan, boat or land or any portion thereof, to which the public does not have access as of right.