A Cape Town strawberry farm has been issued the first commercial license to cultivate cannabis in South Africa, where medicinal use is legal, and recreational use is in the process of being legalized.
The license is for growing cannabis but not for manufacturing any end products for sale or consumption, reports EWN.
Medical uses for cannabis include products that help treat pain, anxiety, insomnia and cancer, according to Healthline.
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The Polkadraai strawberry farm is licensed to cultivate 20 tonnes of dried cannabis but must sell the product to a company in Lesotho where it can be manufactured into medicinal products. At the moment, it is illegal in South Africa to manufacture medicinal cannabis products, according to Businesstech.
Lesotho is the first African country to legalize cannabis.
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While cannabis remains illegal in most parts of Africa, Lesotho legalized it in 2017 and has been issuing production licenses since 2018.
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.
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.
Polkadraai, owned by the Zetler brothers — Barry, Leslie and Julian, is a popular farm for families to visit thanks to activities such as strawberry picking, horse and tractor rides, and a playground for kids.
While it has repurposed some of its greenhouse space to grow cannabis, it will continue to produce strawberries and other fruits and vegetables.
Since Polkadraai was issued its grow license in October 2019, four other cultivation licenses have been approved for unnamed South African sites under the same terms as the Polkadraai farm.