Roleplayers say international firms have the approvals locals should have.
The cannabis industry is preparing to storm the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) in Pretoria to demand licences be revoked.
Dr Lennox Mtshagi, of the Black Farmers Association of South Africa (BFASA), said: “We want to stop the red tape. To get a licence you need a couple of million. How are previously disadvantaged people going to do that?”
He said Sahpra was apparently using an outdated Act from 1965.
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“There were no amendments made and it was left open for agendas. We, as BFASA, want all licences issued under that apartheid Act to be revoked with immediate effect.”
Mtshagi said licences had been given to international companies.
“I have on record Sahpra saying the minister instructed them to give those whites licences. That’s why we want the minister to come and explain on Thursday (tomorrow).”
He added that this was against BEE (black economic empowerment) policy.
Trenton Birch, Cheeba Africa CEO, said the cannabis industry globally was growing rapidly online, but that the SA government was not moving fast enough so the local industry was losing valuable time and market share.
“We are losing the opportunity because of regulations and because Sahpra is one of the gatekeepers hurting this industry.”
Birch said people wanting to buy cannabidiol were under-serviced and were losing faith in the product and in the plant. And while cannabis could be grown outdoors here and was much more expensive to cultivate indoors, SA was losing the competitive advantage.
“One of the strategic advantages we have in South Africa is we can grow outdoors… Countries such as Canada and Europe that have to grow indoors can only grow one cycle.”
Birch said out of the 15 licences granted for medical cannabis, none went to the industry or Eastern Cape farmers, who have been jailed for growing the plant.
“These are the people who put SA cannabis on the map. And sadly there is no way for them to grow it legally.”