Meet South Africa’s secret legal Medical Cannabis farm where thousands of plants are already being grown.
While waves of click bait legalisation headlines have been making big news, the weed hasn’t really quite been freed just yet. Many legal hurdles remain. The State is opposing the Cape Town High Court ruling made earlier this year and arrests for Cannabis possession have continued to be pretty much business as usual for cops. Any hopes that you had of getting some sort of medical grow license are also bound to rapidly dissolve once you’ve taken a look at the intense guidelines and heavy costs involved with what has been proposed so far.
This however hasn’t perturbed one well connected company from already quietly growing Cannabis in a local 16 hectare “high tech agricultural development” zone quietly nestled away in KwaZulu Natal. Those who have been paying close attention to the decades of controversial hemp trials, the millions in government grants and many question marks still lingering over the beautiful hemp grown in the Eastern Cape a couple of years ago won’t be surprised to find out that House of Hemp are again at the center of this project.
You’ve probably not heard of House of Hemp due to them not really having any active public presence and you definitely haven’t heard of them supporting any of the various local legalisation efforts. You may have however heard of House of Hemp CEO and founder, Dr Thandeka Kunene’s close personal relationship with Helen Zille.
The truly surprising bit about all of this is that the farm has been running from as early as 2015 and appears to be growing something quite different from the lanky hemp you would expect to behold. Put aside the open air fields of tall tightly packed hemp plants you envision and you will instead see something more akin to what you would expect in high end recreational or medicinal Cannabis grow facilities.
I am not going to go into the many first and secondhand conspiracies that have come my way about all of this. That would be irresponsible, but there are two things worth noting. Firstly, should you wish to stake a claim in this industry by shaking hands with the applicable legislative government bodies and Dr Kunene herself, it will cost you a cool ten grand at the door. Secondly, House of Hemp are already touting medical “Cannabis” as part of their two million Rand shareholder pitch.
It’s not up to me to say whether this is all a good or bad thing though. So we can only look at what we do know. House of Hemp have taken the better part of three decades and millions in funding to make no real tangible result in producing locally grown hemp products, they clearly know the right people in the right places and that they have shown zero interest in supporting any legalisation efforts that would allow any economic benefit for the man on the street or relief for responsible adult recreational users.
Some say that by the time you’ve heard about a great investment opportunity it’s already too late to get in on the action. I think that very much applies to medical Cannabis in South Africa as well. Meetings have long ago been had behind closed doors and hands shaken to seal deals. The Medical Control Council and Central Drug Authority formally refusing to grant any public access to the minutes of the meetings regarding their sudden support for the drug’s rescheduling and their new found support for medical Cannabis has created a vacuum which can only be filled with speculation.
I am not going to cry “conspiracy” or anything like that and would rather leave you to make up you own mind on whether you still have some altruistic hope of medical Cannabis in South Africa being by the people for the people. Having been around the block a few times, my gut does grumble about the clandestine nature and low profile of all of this.
Any progress on connecting patients with Medical Cannabis products surely can’t be a bad thing. I just hope that House of Hemp now doesn’t again become gatekeeper for Cannabis innovation in South Africa and that they also don’t take another thirty years to accomplish practically fucka’ll other than make your and my tax Rands go up in smoke.
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