Hemp Investigated as Environment Clean-up Crop for South African Gold Mines

It was used in the aftermath of the Chernobyl Nuclear disaster during the 1990s. Now research is underway in South Africa that suggests that hemp might be able to clean up some of the most devastated areas of earth—namely South African gold mines.

In a landmark study, funded by the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa, a graduate student, Tiago Campbell, a master’s degree candidate in environmental science, is studying phytoremediation as a possible way to regenerate over 400 kilometres of land in the Gauteng, Free State and North West provinces.

This is an area of the planet known for several things. It is one of the richest gold deposits in the world (and has been since it was first discovered). Mining got its start in South Africa in 1852 (copper not gold), but the rush has hardly abated since then. In the 1860s, two of the world’s largest diamonds, including the 83-carat Star of South Africa (aka the Cullinan I diamond which sits in the Queen of England’s gold sceptre) and the 21-carat Eureka diamond were unearthed, which predictably, set off a precious metals and gemstones rush in the country.

Unsurprisingly, it is also a place where several of the top 10 world’s deepest mines are located including the deepest in the world, Mponeng Gold Mine, which stretches up to 4.27 km (just over two miles) below the earth, the second deepest mine, Driefontein Mine (3.42km deep), the third deepest mine (Kusasalethu Gold Mine), 3.38 km deep, the Moab Khotsong Gold Mine, the world’s fourth deepest (at just over 3km deep at its deepest point), South Deep Gold Mine (2.99 km deep), and the Kopanang Gold Mine (2.24km deep). Indeed, the only other mines in the top ten are in Canada and the U.S.

All mining has never been environmentally friendly—to say the least of it. However, the concentration of such activity in such close proximity also creates a perfect storm for a widespread environment disaster zone, toxic to life of the plant, animal and humankind.

There are, according to authorities, over 380 gold mines in Gauteng Province, alone, which contain elevated levels of toxic and radioactive metals including cadmium, cobalt, copper, zinc, uranium, and arsenic.

How Hemp Can Help South Africa

According to Campbell, when reached by High Times, the results of his study so far are not hemp specific as he was also unable to obtain a cannabis license to grow his crops on campus. So far, he has only used a different fiber plant species. However, he also said, “based on my understanding and experience with the cannabis plant, I firmly advocate for its validity and potential for use in phytoremediation strategies. I have been in contact with a team from the Vaal University of Technology who are actively conducting research using numerous cannabis varieties for phytoremediation. The team is truly pioneering this work, I hope to be involved in their work in the future.”

Hemp is known (and South African research is further confirming the same) as a “hyper accumulator” of heavy metals. Further it beats out other plants already studied for their phytoremediation potential including Indian mustard, water hyacinth, alfalfa and sunflowers.

According to the U.S. Environmental Agency, the cost of phytoremediation for removing hazardous heavy metals from soil ranges from 20-50 percent of the cost of more conventional (and expensive) methods.

So far nearly 1,000 plants have been put into soil collected from the polluted areas and all have grown normally in lab tests.

Such plants could not be consumed by either animals or people but could be used downstream as non-consumable plant fiber projects (such as plantcrete).

Regardless, the news is optimistic, and further comes at a time when the entire South African cannabis discussion is headed for high gear.

The post Hemp Investigated as Environment Clean-up Crop for South African Gold Mines appeared first on High Times.

New Additions to the African Green Rush

In the last few years, the trend in Africa has been to legalize cannabis for medical purposes and open international cannabis export industries. The most recent countries to join the African green rush are Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana, and hopefully Morocco.

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Lesotho and the start of the African green rush

The African green rush started with Lesotho in 2017, when the government legalized the cultivation and production of medical cannabis for exportation, the first in Africa to do so. The first companies to jump on the opportunity were Canadian, with several licenses given out to Canadian companies by 2018.

Lesotho is a poor African country which is enclaved in South Africa. About 80% subsist on farming, however, draughts and mountainous areas have made it hard to grow many crops. Cannabis is not one of them, which makes it preferable for farming. The country also generates revenue off of livestock, diamond mining, and water. As of 2017, approximately 57% were living under the poverty line, with half the population unemployed. HIV is a huge problem in the small country, with somewhere in the neighborhood of 23% being infected.

In the very beginning, Lesotho gave out licenses for free which enabled local farmers to obtain them. It didn’t take long for the price of licensing to go up to $37,000, essentially ruling out local participation. Fast-forward to August 2020 and it’s not the smooth operation that had been hoped for. There has been questioning into how the licenses have been distributed, with Lesotho’s king Letsie III warning the Ministry of Health about the industry being threatened by corruption. One license holder even gave up on the industry after not being able to secure investors because of Lesotho’s poor regulation.

cannabis export market

Zimbabwe and Zambia

Zimbabwe was the second country to join the African green rush. In 2018, the government of Zimbabwe legalized the cultivation of cannabis for medicinal, export, and research purposes. One year later the law was amended to allow the cultivation of industrial hemp as well. Licenses for growing cannabis in Zimbabwe are approximately $40,000, along with annual return fees of $15,000, and renewal fees of $20,000. Research fees are $5,000 if applicable to a company, with a renewal fee of $2,500. These prices were the prices established at the beginning of the market.

Zimbabwe has also had some bad financial issues, much of it related to land reform issues due to problems between black and white farmers stemming from a shared ancestry in the Colony of Southern Rhodesia. In an effort to redistribute land, many white farmers were ousted, which meant a drop in crop outputs like cotton, tobacco, wheat, and coffee. Prior to the medical legalization, cannabis was illegal in every capacity, and is still illegal for recreational use and medical use today. Citizens of the country can’t access a medical system, much like in Lesotho.

Zambia was next to fall, changing its legislation in December, 2019. The government unanimously approved a bill to legalize the cultivation and exportation of medicinal marijuana. Licensing for cultivation is regulated by the Ministry of Health, and cultivation operations are monitored by the Zambia National Service. Licenses at the time of approval were set at $250,000, also an exorbitant amount for a local farmer in a poor country to pay.

Is Zambia poor? Sure is. Zambia is known for copper and the exportation of metals and minerals. Agriculture is also big, along with tourism as Zambia is home to Victoria Falls. Prior to 2018, approximately $8.4 billion was being added to Zambia’s national debt every year, going up to closer to $10.5 billion since 2018. Much like the other countries mentioned, Zambia is illegal for recreational cannabis use, and hasn’t established a medical program for its own citizens, instead only using the industry for exportation.

Malawi and South Africa

2019 was also the year that the first South African license was awarded for commercial production of cannabis in South Africa. The license went to Afriplex Ltd. working together with House of Hemp. South Africa is a little different than the previous countries mentioned in that it actually does have lax cannabis laws for citizens, decriminalizing personal cannabis use, possession, and cultivation in a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling. Medical cannabis was legalized in 2017, along with the ability for a global import/export medical cannabis market.

At the end of June 2020 it was reported that Afriplex was not only the only licensed producer in South Africa, but was in the process of readying the first export of locally-cultivated cannabis. A different report from October 2019 states that, in fact, Polkadraai Strawberry Farm was the first company to gain licensing to grow cannabis for medical exports in South Africa, given out by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority. According to the report, the company was cleared to produce 20 tons of cannabis flowers in the company’s 46 thousand square meter production facility. Either way you look at it, the market has been moving slowly, but is starting to pick up pace.

green rush

Then there’s Malawi, another impoverished African country, with the majority of the population working in agriculture on subsistence farms, with larger, richer farmers growing coffee and tobacco on big plantations. This has led to massive wealth inequalities, with the majority of the population living in extreme poverty, characterized by widespread and chronic malnutrition, high infant mortality rates, and general sickness.

In February 2020, Malawi’s parliament signed off on a bill to legalize medical and industrial cannabis production, and even outlined certain specifications for a domestic market for citizens. This makes it a step up from other countries like Lesotho and Zambia which didn’t specify information for domestic markets, essentially leaving their own citizens out (or at least until a market is established…which doesn’t have to happen). In terms of the business end, the bill established a Cannabis Regulatory Authority, instituted a 1% cap on THC in hemp, and set up rules for cultivation and exportation.

Morocco

Morocco is interesting for two reasons. The first is that it’s the largest illegal exporter of cannabis resins globally, dwarfing any legal industry with an output of approximately one million kilos of hash a year, worth about €8 million. This puts it at a massive advantage with legalization in that it has the ability to take over the medical export industry, particularly to Europe, and to be the prime exporter of the African green rush countries. Assuming the illegal industry can be converted into a well-functioning legal market, Morocco holds an interesting position in its ability to divert a massive income stream, and take it.

The second interesting thing about Morocco is that as of yet, the regulations set out for cultivation and production specify laws that protect local farmers, even requiring prospective growers and producers to be Moroccan citizens. The bill, announced on February 25th, 2021, is scheduled to be voted on next week, and aims to develop cooperatives where farmers can cultivate crops for sale to international companies.

How much the bill covers a domestic medicinal market is hard to say at the moment, and will become clearer assuming it passes (though it currently has no obstacles). The hope would be that a country forward-thinking enough to empower its own farmers, will also allow medications for its own citizens.

New additions: Uganda, Rwanda, Ghana

In Uganda, cannabis is still illegal, however, in January 2020, the Ugandan Health Minister approved the exportation of cannabis for medical purposes, along with 15 general guidelines, one of them being that prospective exporters cannot take part in deals worth less than $5 million. The weird part about this is that there was a company already exporting out of Uganda for several years.

medical cannabis seeds

Private company Industrial Hemp Uganda Ltd has been working with Industrial Globus Pharma Uganda Ltd, a subsidiary of Israeli company Together Pharma, since 2017, growing medical cannabis for export to Germany and Canada. Whatever deal was in place to allow this to happen outside proper legislation became moot by the law passing, though Industrial Hemp Uganda will now have some stiff competition.

Yet another country to legalize strictly for export is Rwanda. In October 2020, Rwanda legalized the cultivation and production of medical cannabis, but strictly as an export, as in, no right for citizens to use these medicines. The law specifically states it will not change the strict laws in place for citizens, which can mean two years in jail for possession and use crimes, while sale, supply and trafficking crimes can mean 20 years to life in prison. In the same month it legalized production for medical exportation, the country approved its first four applications for licenses.

The last new addition is Ghana. In March 2020, Ghana’s parliament approved the Narcotics Control Commission Bill, which legalizes the cultivation and use of cannabis for medical and industrial purposes. The caveat to this bill is that it only applies to low-THC hemp, with .3% THC or less. Said the president of the Hemp Association of Ghana – Nana Kwaku Agyemang:

“We are not promoting smoking, we are promoting the industry, we are promoting cleaning up the environment, we are promoting creating a new revenue stream for government in terms of taxing from cultivation and export and we are talking about promoting medicines that are far better than opioids, medicines that cannot kill you because no one has died from taking cannabis.”

Conclusion

As 2021 really gets going, Africa reinforces its stance as a force to be reckoned with in the field of global medical marijuana production. Just imagine the power of the region if the majority of countries were in on it? It could dwarf the outputs of other nations, other entire continents. The unfortunate aspect is that these laws most of the time are not helping local citizens. Many are not providing citizens access to medicines, and most are setting impossibly high licensing costs that a poor farmer could never afford. So, while Africa gears up to be a leading cannabis producer, in many countries it still seems to be at the cost of its own citizens.

Welcome to CBDtesters.co, the #1 location for all cannabis-related news from around the world. Come by frequently to keep up with the fast-paced world of legal marijuana, and sign up to our newsletter so you’re always on top!

Resources

Is Lesotho Selling Out Its Own Citizens to Ride the African Green Rush?
South Africa Introduces Some of the Most Lax Laws on Cannabis Yet

Uruguay Was The First Country to Legalize Cannabis – How Are They Doing Now?
Next Stop for Cannabis Industry Investors: Malawi
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

$40k+ Will Buy You a License to Grow Cannabis in Zimbabwe
Cannabis Is Illegal in Zambia, but Exporting It Is Totally Fine!
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers). How to choose Delta-8 THC flowers? South African Government Declassifies CBD From Dangerous to Medicinal
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
Morocco to Shake Things Up With Legalized Medical Cannabis
The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Delta 8 THC Deals. Best Delta-8 THC Vape Bundles – Winter 2021 Zimbabwe Attracts Cannabis Farm Investment From U.K.
Colombia Joins International Cannabis Market Sinaloa Cartel Might Run Mexico’s New Cannabis Industry Mama Cultiva & the Fight for Cannabis Legalization
Luxembourg Likely to Be First EU Country to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
Africa’s Green Rush and the Mad Dash to Update Cannabis Regulation Cannabis Is Illegal in Zambia, but Exporting It Is Totally Fine! Legalized Religiously – How Rastafari Tradition Is Helping Ease Cannabis Regulation in the Caribbean

The post New Additions to the African Green Rush appeared first on CBD Testers.

Morocco to Shake Things Up With Legalized Medical Cannabis

Morocco looks to be the next country to join the African green rush. With a bill up for approval next week in parliament, Morocco hopes to give itself an economic push with this new legislation to legalize medical cannabis. Considering how much it already exports illegally, this legalization could really shake up the global medical cannabis industry.

With country after country setting new legalization policies for cannabis, THC is gaining popularity once again. In fact, now there’s more than one to choose from. For those who want less psychoactive effect, or experience too much anxiety, delta-8 THC might be the better way to go. Check out these great Delta-8 THC deals to experience it for yourself.

Morocco and cannabis

Morocco is a 100% cannabis illegal country at the moment. Morocco’s Criminal Code states that offenders may be placed in treatment facilities, rather than go to prison, that assets can be taken away from offenders, and that possession may incur punishment. Use crimes can incur up to about 10 years in prison, though most do not receive such a sentence.

The sale of cannabis is illegal in Morocco, but the drug is ubiquitous, and used frequently. Sold illegally as hashish under the name ‘kif’, it can be found quite easily in most big cities, with Chefchaouen, in the Rif region being the unofficial ‘capital of kif’. It is often smoked out of a hooka. Cultivation is illegal, and offenders face both prison time and fines. Trafficking is also predictably illegal with punishments of up to 30 years in prison and €60,000 in fines. Industrial hemp is illegal to grow.

Medical cannabis is currently illegal in Morocco, though this could change soon. Most of the push for a change here has to do with economic recovery. Since 2013, different political parties have pushed for legislation to either legalize a medicinal industry, or decriminalize the whole hash industry altogether. In 2014, an entire legalization bill was put forth by the opposition party in parliament, though it was never approved.

medical cannabis legalization

As far as CBD, since Morocco does not differentiate between CBD and the rest of the plant, CBD products are not legal in Morocco either. However, it should be remembered that Morocco is a signee of both the Single Convention on Narcotic Substances, and the Convention on Psychotropic substances, and that cannabis was just cleared for medical use by a recent vote to remove cannabis from schedule IV of the Single Convention treaty.

Is Morocco really the biggest cannabis exporter?

Morocco is quite possibly the biggest cannabis exporter, but certainly not legally! When looking at legal exports of cannabis oil, for example, Morocco is not that high on the list. According to worldstopexports.com, Morocco came in 14th place for cannabis oil exports in 2019, however, it was also noted that Morocco increased its exports of cannabis oils by 218.1% since 2015, which is a pretty solid increase on the legal front.

This doesn’t count for illegal exports though, and when it comes to illegal exports, Morocco seems to be #1. Both the #1 illegal supplier to Europe, and the #1 exporter globally of cannabis resins. According to a 2019 article by BBC Arabic, one million kilograms of hash is produced yearly in Morocco, with a value of approximately €8 billion.

Roughly one million people survive off this illegal industry. It is estimated by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime that in 2017, Morocco globally supplied about 36,000 tons of cannabis, mostly as resin. The same report estimated that Mexico – another large illegal cannabis exporter – had supplied as little as 5,000 tons in comparison.

Not only does Morocco continue to export massive amounts of cannabis, but the potency of the resin produced has steadily increased since 2009, according to the EMCDDA (European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction), in its 2019 European Drug Report. This indicates that Moroccan black market cannabis growers have been improving on production techniques, and using higher-potency cannabis strains.

How can the size of an illegal black market be gauged? One way is by looking at arrests and seizures of products. A massive 27.3 tons of illegal cannabis was seized by Moroccan police in July 2019, making for a global record. In 2017, 400 tons of cannabis was seized altogether. This number surpassed seizures from any other African country, and came close to matching all resin seizures from the entirety of Europe.

Riff mountains Morocco

What does this industry mean to Morocco? When an entire million people are subsisting off an industry in a country of 37 million people, it’s a pretty big deal. The majority of cannabis farming takes place across the north of the country, with the epicenter being the Rif mountains. Since cannabis farming is illegal, journalists are not welcome, and foreigners with cameras are likely to get chased out of the area. Farmers fear the wrath of both traffickers they deal with, and government entities, for communicating with the press.

The Rif region has been the site of protests, mostly based around socioeconomic disparities. Cannabis farmers have protested arrest warrants against growers and demanded annulments of these warrants. Issues concerning drinking water scarcity have also come up, with cannabis growers having a harder time voicing concerns due to fears of being shut down. Due to the general lack of infrastructure and options, local farmers are constantly stuck between a rock and a hard place, in fear of incarceration on one end, and in fear of the traffickers with whom they do business on the other. And no other avenues to earn an income.

Morocco and a new medical cannabis industry

With economic issues to consider – some stemming from the Covid pandemic, and a desire to recoup lost revenue due to illegal markets, Morocco is ready to legalize medical cannabis. On February 25th, 2021, the Moroccan government announced a new bill which would legalize cannabis for production, exportation, and farming for industrial and therapeutic purposes. Parliament is expected to pass the bill next week, and there don’t seem to be obstacles in the way of this. The draft legislation aims to create ‘cooperatives’ where farmers can cultivate their crops and then sell them to international companies for processing.

The draft bill estimated Morocco’s illicit cannabis market to be twice as big as the $8 billion+ approximated by the UN, and estimates that profits are closer to $15 billion. The government estimated that in the current situation, farmers receive about one half billion, while literally $14.5 billion goes to traffickers and organized crime groups.

A leaked version of the draft legislation indicates it is meant to help local farmers and shows there is no intention for mass production of cannabis throughout Morocco, but rather for it to be kept in six locations within the Rif mountains territory. According to the bill, farmers will be required to gain an authorization, live in the correct region, be of legal age, and have Moroccan citizenship.

Like most bills of its kind, it also proposes an agency to oversee regulation of the industry. This would be the National Agency for the Regulation of Indian Hemp Activities. Only Moroccan registered companies would be able to apply for import, export, and marketing licenses. It is expected that all details will be released assuming the bill passes next week.

Hooka

This bill comes on the heels of Morocco’s vote in the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs to remove cannabis from Schedule IV, making it legal for medical use. It also comes at a time when the legal European medical cannabis industry is booming, with imports in 2019 in the neighborhood of €230-€280 million, which Morocco completely missed out on. Canada is positioning itself to be a top supplier for European legal cannabis imports, but a change in Moroccan law can certainly throw a wrench into this current trajectory.

Even just capturing the German market would be massive. The German market is the biggest in Europe, with Germany importing nearly 10,000 kilos of cannabis in 2020 alone. Being the main supplier for this kind of market is a coveted position, and it might very well be a showdown between Canada and Morocco to win supply deals in Germany, and the rest of the growing European market.

Conclusion

Africa is a continent that has seen a lot of rapidly changing laws when it comes to cannabis, often constituting entire reversals of policy done very quickly to enter into the global medical cannabis market. Assuming the bill in Morocco passes next week, it will join Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, South Africa, and other African nations which have already legalized medical cannabis. And given its massive cannabis cultivation and exportation ability, Morocco stands to be one of the countries to gain most from the new trend of medical cannabis legalization.

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Resources

Is Lesotho Selling Out Its Own Citizens to Ride the African Green Rush?
Cannabis Election Results – What Just Became Legal in the United States

Next Stop for Cannabis Industry Investors: Malawi
South Africa Introduces Some of the Most Lax Laws on Cannabis Yet
What is DELTA 8 THC (FAQ: Great resource to learn about DELTA 8THC)

Tilray Acquires Manitoba Harvest in Landmark Deal
Cannabis Is Illegal in Zambia, but Exporting It Is Totally Fine!
The CBD Flowers Weekly newsletter (your top resource for all things smokable hemp flowers). How to choose Delta-8 THC flowers? Zimbabwe Attracts Cannabis Farm Investment From U.K.
The Medical Cannabis Weekly newsletter (International medical cannabis business report)
$40k+ Will Buy You a License to Grow Cannabis in Zimbabwe
The Delta 8 Weekly Newsletter (All you need to know about Delta 8 thc) and the Best Delta 8 THC Deals. Best Delta-8 THC Vape Bundles – Winter 2021 Legalized Religiously – How Rastafari Tradition Is Helping Ease Cannabis Regulation in the Caribbean
Tilray Continues Expansion Into Europe And Beyond Mike Tyson to Open Tyson’s Ranch Under Antigua’s New Cannabis Regulation Cannabis Remains Schedule I After UN Vote
Luxembourg Likely to Be First EU Country to Legalize Recreational Cannabis
Germany Leads EU in Cannabis Oil Imports…and Exports Albania Might Be the Dark Horse of the Cannabis Game Africa’s Green Rush and the Mad Dash to Update Cannabis Regulation

The post Morocco to Shake Things Up With Legalized Medical Cannabis appeared first on CBD Testers.

The funny ways we beat our boredom during COVID-19

We’ve all been surviving a global pandemic by staying inside and getting baked. It’s not hard to imagine that many people were very bored. Take a stoner, ask them to stay home, give them money, make weed available… what do you get? Pure hilarious shenanigans! Thanks to smartphones, it’s all on camera! Here’s a look […]

The post The funny ways we beat our boredom during COVID-19 appeared first on Latest Cannabis News Today – Headlines, Videos & Stocks.

Cannabis in Africa: Will 2020 Be the Breakthrough Year?

People have been growing cannabis in Africa for centuries, and now legal cannabis production has taken hold in some countries on the continent — with several more anticipating an embrace of the new industry on the horizon. Overseas investment is coming in, and recent media reports predict an African cannabis boom in 2020.

The UN Office on Drugs & Crime in its 2007 overview report Cannabis in Africa estimated 10,000 tons of cannabis were produced annually on the continent, entirely on the underground market.

Today, there are now four legal producers in Africa that are now looking to legalize the thriving underground economy. Far in the lead is South Africa’s small and landlocked neighbor, Lesotho. Long a major illicit producer, Lesotho is now aggressively embracing commercial cannabis production as a ticket out of poverty and under-development. In 2017, it issued Africa’s first commercial cultivation licenses, again for the international medical market. Investment has since poured in.

In 2018, South Africa decriminalized personal cultivation via a judicial ruling. That same year, the South Africa Health Products Regulatory Authority issued the first licenses for commercial cultivation of medical marijuana — now numbering four in all. In May 2019, South Africa’s health agency rescheduled CBD, clearing the way for the free sale of CBD extract and derivatives in the lead.

Things have moved much more slowly in traditionally authoritarian Zimbabwe, which also legalized medical marijuana cultivation in 2018, by order of the Health Ministry. The last entry is Uganda, where plans for commercial cultivation were held up by demands from conservative cabinet members for a legal review earlier this year. 

Progress is also reported from Malawi, where the government is now cultivating hemp on a trial basis, with an eye toward permitting the production of CBD strains. And Eswatini (formerly known as Swaziland), another small land-locked neighbor of South Africa, is following Lesotho into a legal cannabis economy, with a bill or legalize cultivation now pending.

The legal logjam halting cannabis cultivation in Uganda appears to have just broken. A report in Taarifa Rwanda indicates the first licenses in Uganda have been approved, with 7,000 hectares now under cannabis cultivation. Among the biggest of 90 firms under license in Uganda is the Israeli company Together Pharma, which intends to export to Canada.  

Media Predict Continental Cannabis Boom in 2020

With a handful of countries moving towards legalization and a flood of international investment hitting Africa’s shores, many media outlets have taken note and started to speculate that 2020 could be a big year for African cannabis.

“With Israel as partner, Africa can turn cannabis into an economic game changer,” read a bullish write-up in the Times of Israel last month.

“With abundant land, an experienced labor force and climates conducive to cannabis cultivation, if legitimized, cannabis could contribute to a continent-wide economic uptick,” the Times of Israel wrote. 

On Dec. 19, the Bloomberg news agency offered a similarly bullish report on the cannabis boom in Lesotho. It notes that since the landlocked kingdom became the first African country to issue cannabis cultivation licenses, foreign investors including Canadian companies Supreme CannabisCanopy Growth and Aphria have “poured tens of millions of dollars into a handful of facilities, drawn by the low cost of production.” 

MG Health, Lesotho’s biggest legal producer, received $10 million Canadian dollars ($7.6 million dollars) from Supreme Cannabis last year in exchange for 10% of the business, which was then known as Medigrow Lesotho. MG Health CEO Andre Bothma told Bloomberg the company plans to employ as many as 3,000 workers locally once it reaches full production in a few years — up from 350 currently. It is now growing a CBD strain, and primarily exporting extract to South Africa, although Bothma said the company also anticipates entering European markets.

“We have first-mover advantage in Africa and we think the market is huge,” the CEO added.

The Bloomberg account emphasized one particular lure of production in Africa: low overhead.

“As cannabis rules loosen around the globe, companies are turning to low-cost regions for supply,” Bloomberg wrote. “MG Health says that even in its start-up phase, it’s producing in Lesotho for about 93 cents a gram, less than the $1 or more per gram that it cites as the norm elsewhere.”

Low production costs have long been a stimulus behind foreign-backed plantation agriculture in Africa — as has land-grabbing

The Specter of Cut-and-Run Capitalism 

Earlier this year, UK-based cannabis industry consultancy Prohibition Partners released its African Cannabis Reportemphasizing a refrain also oft-heard from agribusiness, oil and mineral interests: Africa holds great potential, but “infrastructure and facilities are lacking,” so “implementing new production centers may prove costly and time-consuming.”

This raises the question of whether the cannabis industry in Africa will be more of a responsible player than other industries historically have been. It’s not likely. So far, there have been a few bad signs.

NBC News reported earlier this month on a sobering case from Cameroon, where British firm Trade Park said it had lined up investment from globe-spanning tobacco and drug companies to carve a 154-square-mile cannabis plantation out of the rainforest and bring thousands of jobs to impoverished locals. But things didn’t work out that way.

“Instead, four years after Trade Park Corporation signed its first papers with local officials, there is nothing to show for the project but angry investors, some stakes in the ground and a few dirt roads already being reclaimed by jungle,” NBC wrote. 

Many of the major backers boasted by Trade Park — including German pharmaceutical giant Bayer (controversial producer of glyphosate herbicide) and U.S. tobacco major Altria (reviled makers of Marlboro cigarettes) — told NBC they’d never heard of the project. The residents of the locality where the project was planned, Meyomessala, are clearly bitter.

“Trade Park could not honor its commitments,” Christian Mebiame Mfou’ou, mayor of Meyomessala, wrote to reporters when asked about the project.  

Trade Park’s plans only came to light this month when a huge cache of corporate records was leaked from Formations House, a UK firm that specializes in contriving offshore “shell companies” for shady clients. This drew a flurry of investigations into the affair. 

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project found that locals had been hired to cut roads into the bush for the project in anticipation of a visit to review the site by British investors and a high-level delegation from the Cameroon government. But the company appears to have cut its losses and pulled out shortly afterward — leaving the hired road crews unpaid for their labor. 

“We were all involved in digging roads that made it easy for the delegation to move within the forest,” Mvondo, a member of the local Bulu indigenous group, told investigators. “No one paid us and until today they still owe us.”

Neither the cannabis plantation nor the promised jobs have materialized, and the local people have returned to subsistence farming. 

These revelations from Cameroon come almost exactly a year after all too similar ones from the Democratic Republic of Congo. There was a brief media splash when a Canadian company called InstaDose Pharma was reported to be poised to drive down the price of CBD globally by dumping a vast quantity on the market, produced from hemp grown by cheap labor in the DRC.

“Flying under the radar for the past few months, InstaDose Pharma is ready to hit the market with 2 million liters of CBD oil in 2019,” wrote Canada’s Financial Post on Dec. 27, 2018. “InstaDose Pharma has over 200,000 farmers harvesting cannabis out of the Democratic Republic of the Congo on over 100,000 hectares of land.”

The report predicted an imminent drop in CBD prices of over 96%.

Such reports disappeared as quickly as they had come, and no Congolese CBD flooded the global market. Equity Guru website scoffed in a withering headline: “Instadose: When the scam is so brazen that it becomes unintentional comedy.” 

The most credible report that Equity Guru could find — dated Oct. 24, 2018, attributed to Congolese media, apparently posted to (but since removed from) the InstaDose website and now online at Financial News Media — merely said that the DRC’s deputy agriculture minister, Noël Botakile, had “welcomed the initiative.” Not that cannabis was already in production at the sites, named as in Lualaba and Kasai Central provinces. Much less that finished CBD products were ready to go to market.

The DRC, of course, has been wracked for generations now by horrific internal conflicts, making it the site of one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. Resource extraction under the control of lawless actors has fueled the conflicts — such as the notorious “blood coltan” in your cellphone. The families of children abused in near-slave labor conditions in Congolese cobalt mines recently launched suit against tech companies including Apple, Google, Tesla and Microsoft in the U.S. courts. Israeli firms have been particularly criticized for dealing in “blood diamonds” from other African conflict zones. And Cameroon is also at this moment descending into internal conflict

Those concerned with responsible business practices in the cannabis industry would do well to keep a close eye on Africa. The last thing we want is to be seeing headlines about “blood CBD” a year or two down the line.

TELL US, which country do you think will be next to legalize cannabis?

The post Cannabis in Africa: Will 2020 Be the Breakthrough Year? appeared first on Cannabis Now.

Black South African Farmers Struggle To Enter Burgeoning Cannabis Market

HENNOPS, South Africa (AP) — Stacks of bright green cannabis plants, freshly harvested from nearby hothouses, are expertly sorted on a lab table by workers wearing hygienic gloves and caps who snip the leaves and buds and put them in bins for further processing.

Druid’s Garden in
Hennops, about 20 miles north of Johannesburg, is a licensed farm which
conducts research, legally produces cannabis and other traditional
medicinal products for sale in South Africa and international markets.

The farm’s founder, Cian McClelland, said one of his aims is to help smaller-scale, black farmers enter South Africa’s potentially lucrative marijuana market.

“One of the most important aspects of this
industry is for us to find ways to uplift small farmers, particularly
black rural farmers,” said McClelland. “We would like to play an active
role around the country, in partnership with the Heritage Trust, to help
… provide access to these markets.”

McClelland knows that rural
black farmers, who have grown marijuana traditionally but illegally,
are now fighting to benefit from the country’s relaxation of cannabis
laws.

Following the Constitutional Court’s decision in 2018 to
decriminalize the personal use and cultivation of cannabis, South
Africa’s cannabis industry could be worth more than $23 billion by 2023,
according to a recent report by data collection agency Prohibition
Partners.

However, there are concerns on the ground that black
farmers who have been working for decades in what has been an illegal
industry may miss out on the potential boom.

Many smaller growers cannot afford to get the licenses needed to grow marijuana for medicinal and research purposes.

The
stringent requirements include getting police clearances, registering a
specified plot size, erecting high-tech security fencing, getting
irrigation systems and setting up agreements with overseas buyers, among
others. The cost of establishing a legal marijuana farm is estimated to
be $200,000 to $350,000, according to a South African agricultural
publication, Landbouweekblad.

The new marijuana industry could
soon be controlled by big pharmaceutical companies, cutting out
long-time growers, say agricultural experts.

Some successful black
farmers like Itumeleng Tau are working to train emerging farmers to
grow and process cannabis up to the standards required to obtain
medicinal permits.

“If an ordinary farmer in the homelands (rural
areas) is being required to have two hectares (5 acres) of land or one
hectare (2.5 acres), fully fenced, while they have been farming when it
was un-fenced and nobody was stealing it, it is quite impractical,” said
Tau.

Moleboheng Semela, a cannabis activist and general secretary
of the Cannabis Development Council, is among those fighting to get
licenses for those who had previously grown and sold cannabis illegally.

Her organization helps emerging farmers to obtain permits to cultivate cannabis and produce medicinal products.

“We
have those communities that have been involved in the cannabis industry
before the court ruling, but we have seen that our government is more
focused on the (producers of) pharmaceuticals,” said Semela.

South Africa’s cannabis industry is growing so quickly that marijuana conventions are popping up across the country.

A
recent cannabis expo held in Johannesburg’s posh Sandton Convention
Center attracted hundreds of marijuana activists, farmers, growers and
exhibitors from across the world. The expo grew from 58 exhibitor stands
last year to more than 200 stands this year, according to expo director
Silas Howard.

“It just goes to show how big and how fast this industry has grown,” said Howard.

South
African president Cyril Ramaphosa recently touted the country’s
cannabis industry as an important sector in the country’s fight against
unemployment.

“We note that the cultivation of cannabis … can
play an important role in uplifting the poorest regions in the country,”
Ramaphosa told a community meeting in the rural town of Lusikisiki in
the Eastern Cape province in September last year. The province is among
the areas in South Africa where cannabis has been grown by many
subsistence farmers for generations, despite laws against it. The
Eastern Cape’s provincial government last year sent a delegation to
Canada to research cannabis cultivation and product development.

However
South African law enforcement agencies remain resolute in arresting
those producing without permits. In November, police arrested three
people for operating a hydroponic lab in Brits, outside the capital
Pretoria, confiscating more than $200,000 worth of cannabis.

“The
investigation aims to clamp down on the unlawful mushrooming of cannabis
dispensaries around the country,” said police spokesman Captain
Tlangelani Rikhotso.

At Druid’s Garden, Cian McClelland, said the bar does not necessarily have to be so high for new entrants.

“Going for a full pharmaceutical license is very expensive and out of reach of most rural people,” he said. “So what we are advocating for is to use our center as a training facility, to bring people from rural communities and teach them low-tech models that are within their means to be able to go back into their communities and implement relatively easily.”

By Mogomotsi Magome

The post Black South African Farmers Struggle To Enter Burgeoning Cannabis Market appeared first on High Times.

Thursday, December 19, 2019 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Thursday, December 19, 2019 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Legal recreational weed sales will begin Jan. 1, as planned in Chicago despite a wild, angry debate in City Council (Chicago Tribune)

// Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo Pumps Brakes on Cannabis Banking Bill (Cannabis Wire)

// After one-year freeze, rush is on to buy out Ontario’s first wave of cannabis retail lottery winners (Financial Post)


These headlines are brought to you by Curaleaf, one of the leading vertically-integrated cannabis operators in the U.S. With legal medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation sites, and processing facilities all over the United States, Curaleaf has served more than 165,000 medical cannabis patients and looks forward to helping many more long into the future. Swing over to Curaleaf.com to learn more about this very cool company!


// One of the Poorest Countries in Africa Wants to Send Its Legal Marijuana All Over the World (Time)

// New Zealand finalizes groundwork to launch medical cannabis industry in April (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Analysis: Germany’s medical cannabis market loses momentum but on pace to surpass 100 million euros (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Which Canadian provinces will have legal vapes and edibles by Christmas? (Leafly)

// Beleave loses CEO VanderMarel; faces lawsuit from Auxly Cannabis (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Akerna to Acquire Canadian Cannabis Software Provider Ample Organics for Up to $45 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Chart: Cannabis industry, MJBizCon continue growth trends (Marijuana Business Daily)


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