TUT, CSIR establish research hub to support medical cannabis industry

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Economic opportunities in the Cannabis industry are set to expand as academic and research institutions work together to research and exploit business possibilities in the sector.

Tshwane University of Technology (TUT), in conjunction with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), has established a research hub that will support the medical cannabis industry through research and product development.

Both institutions say the collaboration will help leverage their expertise to support businesses and entrepreneurs to produce good quality, safe products for local use and possible export to other countries and markets.

Fitted with versatile equipment, the research hub is going to be used for extraction of cannabis and other herbs. The centre will also help develop skills for young researchers and entrepreneurs.

A final year National Diploma student specialising in analytical chemistry has been trained to operate the instrument.

“We’re switching into doing things the greener way so that will also help because it’s branching into lot of industries such as agriculture because of drugs are not actually planted and grow in agricultural forms but they’re lab manufactured. So in this process, it’s involving the single cycle. The public could expect to participate whether you’re participating as a farmer or as inter-logistic personnel”, says analytical chemistry student Skhumbuzo Nkuna.

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The university says the country’s budding cannabis industry has seen positive legal developments conducive to unlocking its potential since 2017. Through government’s Operation Vulindlela, research opportunities and product development for cannabis have
been created for medical and wellness products.

“Already we’re getting people from industry, entrepreneurs coming through to us and saying we’ve got biomass, how soon can we actually press this how soon can we formulate it? So I would say by the end of the year, we should certainly be seeing products where we have had some kind of input”, says TUT’s Prof David Katerere.

Entrepreneurs running cannabis-related businesses can grow their enterprises using the hub. Small businesses will also be able to exploit opportunities in the sector’s value chain.

Both institutions say the hub will work in alignment with the National Cannabis Master Plan which provides a broad framework for the development and growth of this industry.



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