Marijuana farming in South Africa. What licenses do you need?


Photo credit: Richard T | The CBD

Interested in farming cannabis? You’ve come to the right place. We spoke to an insider in the marijuana industry to find out exactly what you need to get started.

Is there a market for cannabis in South Africa?

According to a recent study, within the next four years the cannabis industry in South Africa may grow to the value of R27 billion. Now that’s a big market, wouldn’t you say? This doesn’t even include all of the ways in which this versatile plant can be used and sold. So, before we get into the technical things about the law, let us first look at a few things to get a better understanding of what the possibilities are.

Is hemp the same thing as marijuana?

Hemp is the fibres from the stalks of the cannabis plant, used to make twines, which can then be woven into anything from ropes to textiles. It has been used traditionally all over the world for its strength and durability, and is the reason the Afrikaans word for “shirt” is “hemp”. If you look at the word “cannabis”, you might also realise why the strong material that all the classic oil artworks are painted on is called “canvas”.

What is the difference between THC and CBD?

Both of these are chemicals found in the cannabis plant, collectively known as cannabinoids. THC (or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol) is the major active ingredient in cannabis that, when heated and inhaled, gets people “high”, or “stoned”. This is very different to the CBD (or cannabidiol), which makes up a larger portion of the chemicals found in the plant, but does not have any effect like making people feel funny – rather, it has many medicinal properties from helping with anxiety to relieving pain.

Is it legal to grow marijuana in South Africa?

When it comes to you growing the plant, the important thing to understand here is how the plant products will be used. Firstly, if you want to grow it for personal recreational use, the law does not yet specify how many plants you can have. At the decriminalisation in 2018, the courts gave the government 24 months during which to write the details into law.

This leaves us in a bit of a grey area. There are not yet any hard rules as to how many plants you can have and how much you are able to carry with you, however it looks set to pass that you’re allowed to have 600g of dried marijuana at home (or 1200g if there are more than 2 adults living there) and you should be safe growing around 10 plants at home, according to our insider. But once again, these laws have not been finalised and it’s largely up to the discrepancy of the police officer you’re dealing with.

The only people who are allowed to sell are those who cultivate for medicinal purposes, but even here it is still very much a grey area. The Medical Control Council released some papers in 2016 showing the medical benefits of cannabis. Then, in 2017, this led to the partial decriminalisation of cannabis for medical purposes. Medical purposes largely revolve around CBD, and have regulations about the amount of THC that can be present in the products.

6 important things to know about selling CBD products in SA

  1. You will need a license from SAHPRA, the South African Health Products Regulatory authority. It is worth knowing that since the change in 2017, only three (at time of writing) licenses have been granted, so it’s not a very easy process.
  2. With these licenses, you cannot just sell the plants but have to do a botanical extraction into the form of oils, and test all products for CBD and THC levels.
  3. All plants need a barcode and after harvesting the flowers, the rest of the plants need to be destroyed by fire. There also has to be photographic evidence of this destruction of the ‘waste’.
  4. As things stand, you will still not be able to sell the products locally – you will have to export the products. This means that all CBD oils for sale in South Africa are currently either imported, with relevant controls, or technically illegal.
  5. As the laws are not yet fully laid out, the whole thing leaves us in a rather grey area, but this is all set to change within the next 15 months.
  6. It is also worth checking out some of the groups on Facebook like Cannabis Club South Africa, and A Stoners Guide to Cape Town, amongst many others, for more information and to connect with others in this growing industry.

Our industry insider showed us some basic calculations of what it will take to set up a proper growing operation, including licenses and an extraction facility. All in all it’s a multimillion Rand deal. Naturally, this makes it incredibly difficult for almost anyone to get into, but with the expected growth of the market in the coming years, it may be worth getting a loan – you might just set yourself up to become an intercontinental cannabis king or queen!

Ready to get started? The first step would be company registration. Register your company online with Govchain – they’ll handle all the admin while you focus on building your business. Trust us, we’ve used them multiple times.

So, what’re you waiting for? Get out there and get growing!


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2 Comments

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  1. cant wait to start farming canabis for commercial purposes.imparative is license and training