Submission for Consideration in Developing a Supportive Regulatory Environment for the Growth and Trade in Medicinal and Recreational Marijuana in South Africa

Currently, and prior to decriminalisation (for recreational and medicinal purposes), there existed a largely unquantified but nevertheless significant domestic market for marijuana. In the past, serving this market has formed an important source of income for a large number of (mainly black) households and smallholdings. Depending on the manner in which marijuana is regulated in this country, legalisation can either benefit these households - which have materially suffered from past racial discrimination and ongoing police harassment in relation to marijuana - or it can hinder their continued participation in the market for marijuana. Similarly, a range of new economic opportunities is presented through the legitimisation and commercialisation of the medicinal marijuana sector. Whilst the barriers to entry for medicinal product manufacturing are likely considerably higher than for recreational, there is still a critical need for this industry to embrace the principles of BBBEE and spread economic and social benefits to South Africa’s poorest communities—many of whom are rural and regionally based. With legislation being developed, the opportunity for creating equity at the ground-floor of emergent recreational and medicinal industries is now. The rapid mobilisation of the state and industry to meet the needs of this market must foreground the need for inclusiveness through appropriate policy and investment or operational guidelines.