A ‘spliffing’ takeaway from the Gauteng State of the Province (SOPA) address on Tuesday 23rd February is the push to make Gauteng South Africa’s weed capital. Premier David Makhura has once again denoted his hope to see the province become the country’s leading processor of cannabis, to help stimulate the economy and aid development within the country after the pandemic.
The Gauteng government would like to blaze the trail to faster economic recovery after the COVID-19 hit, by using its existing industrial infrastructure to process dagga for both recreational and medicinal purposes. Makhura maintains his positive outlook on the economic potential offered by the legalization of marijuana and the introduction of a well-structured cannabis industry in South Africa. He draws focus to the benefits of producing cannabis products for pharmaceutical, health and textile use as reasons to speed up the legalization process. Stating that his vision for the plant is to act as the catalyst for Gauteng’s goal of being “the engine of Africa’s industrialisation”.
Makhura believes that the investment required to kick start the cannabis market is aligned with the provinces ongoing infrastructure projects. However, while Gauteng may be well-positioned to lead the industrialisation of the agriculture sector, it does not have space to mass-produce the plant – which is where the Eastern Cape will come in. The Eastern Cape government has already stated their support of the legal production of the crop to help transform and develop the province.
“We [are] focusing on our high-growth priority sectors and infrastructure investment projects that will unlock the transformation, modernisation, and re-industrialisation of the different corridors and districts of our city region,” said Makhura.
This is not the first time Makhura has shared his vision of a green economy in South Africa, as he proposed an almost identical mandate in last year’s SOPA when he promised to focus efforts on the industrialisation and processing of the cannabis industry with a focus on medicinal cannabis.
It has been established that the introduction of new laws intended to industrialise cannabis use has the potential to generate additional tax revenues, create more jobs and allow for the production of environmentally friendly and cost-effective textiles to be used in building and manufacturing. The current state of emergency brought about by the COVID pandemic has unfortunately meant these laws have been placed on the back burner for now.