Eastern Cape Premier Oscar Mabuyane says the commercialisation of cannabis can create jobs and grow the South African economy.

Mabuyane says the issue will be raised in the proposed economic development master plan which will outline how the small scale cannabis farmers will benefit from the formal commercialisation of the plant.

Last year, the Constitutional Court approved the growing and use of cannabis for private use, but buying it remains illegal.

Mabuyane says it is high time to formally commercialise cannabis. “It’s not a question of being premature, it’s a question of government raising it. Society talks about it, people understand it so we have brought it into our horizon in terms of understanding, because of the attitude that we have. We just literally think it as a dagga nothing more; other to think about it as this necessary herb that can really contribute in the manufacturing and in the industrialisation of the economy.”

The Eastern Cape House of Traditional Leaders Chairperson, Chief Mwelo Nonkonyana has welcomed the proposed plan, saying rural communities will also benefit.

“We want our traditional communities to take control, in other words, traditional communities must be given permits. And traditional communities must be empowered to have firms to produce the herbs that are needed. I hope therefore that the foreigners are not going to infiltrate that area with the view to own that gold in that area.”

One economist says South Africa cannot afford to ignore the economic benefits of cannabis legalisation. The Chief Economist at the Agricultural Business Chamber, Wandile Sihlobo, says cannabis could well be a catalyst to revitalise rural communities in South Africa that are economically marginalised.

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