In a country with 29 percent unemployment, South Africa could tap into a lucrative industry that creates desperately-needed jobs and boosts the economy if the government passes legislation.
A legalized cannabis industry in South Africa could be worth more than $1.7 billion annually by 2023, according to the African Cannabis Report, the first detailed report on the legal cannabis industry in Africa.
South Africa would be the second-biggest African market for cannabis and related products such as hemp and oils, according to the research presented by strategic consultancy firm Prohibition Partners.
The same report suggests that Nigeria’s market would be worth $3.7 billion by 2023 if cannabis use is legalized in Africa’s most populous country.
In Morocco, where cannabis is illegal but tolerated for personal use, the cannabis industry employs 800,000 people, according to BusinessLive.
Morocco’s marijuana industry is expected to be worth $900 million by 2023.
“With affordable land, low-cost labor and an experienced agricultural workforce, Africa offers enormous opportunity to local startups and foreign companies looking to expand,” according to the Africa Cannabis Report.
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There are 1.25 million cannabis farmers in South Africa, according to World Health Organization estimates. At least 350,000 African cannabis farmers are traditional healers who give the plant to others for its medicinal benefits.
In September 2018 the South African constitutional court ruled that the recreational use of cannabis was no longer a criminal offense.
The court gave the government two years from the date of the ruling to bring the country’s cannabis laws in line with the constitution.
The South African government is working towards regulating the cannabis industry to legalize its use and benefit from the job creation, especially in rural areas, according to CityPress.
Authorities in South Africa want to have a framework for the development of the hemp and cannabis sector in place by October.