South Africa Plans To Launch A First-Of-Its-Kind Cannabis College

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Written by Peter Pedroncelli
black farmers medical cannabis college
South Africa hopes to open the country’s first cannabis college to teach farmers about the growth and distribution of cannabis. Photo by Terre di Cannabis on Unsplash

South Africa hopes to open the country’s first cannabis training center in a rural area where local youth can learn how to capitalize on the international boom in legal cannabis.

The Eastern Cape government hopes to have what it describes as a “cannabis college” operating within a year, according to The Citizen.

The college is expected to upskill farmers in the growing and distribution of cannabis and will assist with seed, fertilizers, and fencing.

Other countries including the U.S., Canada, and the Netherlands have cannabis education but the planned South African cannabis college would be a first-of-its-kind in Africa.

An increasing number of universities globally offer cannabis-related courses and there are online cannabis schools available such as THC University and the Cannabis Training University based in Denver, Colorado.

Founded in 2007, Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California claims to be the first cannabis college in the U.S.

The local Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform plans to establish the cannabis college in an abandoned former teaching college in a rural area near Lusikisiki — a town named by the local AmaMpondo people after the rustling sound of reeds in the wind.

A fully 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. It would also create much-needed job opportunities in the country.

The Eastern Cape area has been selected as the location of the college as it presents farmers with the ideal growing conditions for cannabis, Businesstech reports.

The rural areas identified are mountainous, humid and high-altitude areas, offering growers fertile soil, minimal levels of pollution and steady rain.

South Africa’s Cape region has unique biodiversity — making it the only designated floral kingdoms to fall within the borders of a single country. It occupies 0.04 percent of the Earth’s surface but has 3 percent of its species — and nearly 20 percent of Africa’s flora.

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. Cannabis has been grown in the Eastern Cape region for centuries.

South Africa has the potential to be the second-biggest African market after Nigeria for cannabis and related products such as hemp and oils if the industry was fully legalized, according to the research presented by strategic consultancy firm Prohibition Partners.

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Cannabis is not legalized in most of Africa but a handful of countries including Lesotho, Zambia, and South Africa have legalized the cultivation of the plant for medical and in some cases commercial purposes.

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.