Druids homestead in Hennops, about 20kms north of Jozi is one of the first licensed farms. Here they conduct research, produce legal cannabis and other traditional medicinal products for sale in South Africa and abroad.
The farm’s founder & owner, Cian McClelland, said one of his main focuses is to help small scale, black farmers enter the South African marijuana market and industry.
“One of the most important aspects of this industry is for us to find ways to uplift small farmers, particularly black rural farmers,” said McClelland. “We would like to play a more active role in South Africa and in partnership with the heritage trust help provide access to these markets.
McClelland knows of many rural black farmers that are now fighting to grow the plant legally, after many years of falling into a grey area, so that they may capitalise on these new laws and this growing industry.
Following the Constitutional Court’s decision in 2018, South Africa’s cannabis industry could be worth more than $23 billion by 2023, according to a recent report by data collection agency Prohibition Partners.
However, there are concerns on the ground that black farmers who have been working for decades in what has been an illegal industry may miss out on the potential boom.
The reason being that many small farmers cannot afford to get the licenses needed to grow weed legally. The stringent requirements include getting police clearances, registering a specified plot size, erecting high-tech security fencing, getting irrigation systems and setting up agreements with overseas buyers, among others. The cost of establishing a legal marijuana farm is estimated to be $200,000 (R2 877 430.00) to $350,000 (R5 035 502.50), according to a South African agricultural publication which is not obtainable for many rural black farmers.
The biggest impending fear is that massive international pharmaceutical companies will bulldoze the local community. They have no worries cutting out the rural black community – it has already started happening and will only become more of a problem.