Is it Legal to Grow Hemp in South Africa?

One of the oldest and most versatile cultivated crops in history, Hemp or Cannabis sativa, falls under the Cannabis species. It is therefore regulated, and considered illegal to cultivate or consume outside the parameters of private use in South Africa.

Hemp South Africa

So what’s the good news then? The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the Department of Health are working together on a new regulatory framework for hemp cultivation in South Africa.

According to a recent media release by DAFF in September this year, ‘DAFF and the Department of Health are developing guidelines for regulating the cultivation and manufacturing of hemp and hemp products’ urging the departments of Health and Justice and Constitutional Development to make legislative amendments that will result in the ‘commercialisation of hemp in South Africa.’

cannabis-leaf

Is Hemp Legal in South Africa?

As all cannabis species are grouped together for legal classification, hemp is largely misunderstood and often associated with its recreationally used cousin, marijuana. Not to be confused with marijuana, hemp contains only trace amounts of THC, less than 0.3%.

Due to this classification process, and outside of the decriminalization of private cultivation and use, growing hemp commercially is therefore still not legal.

Hemp seeds are used to produce hemp oil in South Africa, which is nutritionally rich and has a variety of applications from cooking to skincare. Hemp is widely available in the form of dietary supplements, edibles and sports nutrition. Due to the strength and durability of hemp fibres, and the plant’s rapid growth, it is also used in the manufacture of clothing and textiles.

hemp-seeds

Dagga Laws South Africa

So, is weed legal in South Africa? With the Constitutional Court’s highly anticipated ruling in September 2018 which conditionally decriminalizing weed, it is now legal to cultivate and use marijuana in private, granted you are an adult and follow the guidelines.

There are a few conditions to consider before lighting up:

  • You may cultivate, use and possess marijuana in private
  • It remains illegal to distribute or sell marijuana or to consume it in public
  • The limitations of use have not yet been set by the government in terms of the amount of marijuana you can cultivate and use privately, or the exact age restrictions that apply

cannabis-bud-close-up

Medical Cannabis South Africa

Due to government regulations and the subsequent restrictions on marijuana use in South Africa, cannabis as a form of medicine has not been extensively tested. However, a large volume of anecdotal evidence exists in support of medical cannabis.

Amongst a multitude of other products, Cannabis oil in Cape Town is growing massively in popularity for medicinal purposes. With its healing potential to treat just about any condition from skincare concerns to cancer and neurodegenerative disorders.

It’s relatively unknown territory, as medical cannabis is widely available online, despite governmental legislation.

cannabis-plant

Hemp Farming South Africa

Growing evidence in support of hemp as a legitimate medicinal and nutritional product, building material, textile and more has resulted in many companies pursuing legal permits. These will enable them to grow hemp in South Africa for its potential as a commercial product.

Whether purchasing hemp seeds as a dietary supplement, or for growing hemp plants, there are a variety of retailers selling nutritional hemp seeds and multiple private online hemp seed suppliers in South Africa.

Dagga Plant versus Hemp Plant

It’s a bit of a grey area so to speak, obtaining cannabis/marijuana seeds in South Africa, as selling or purchasing cannabis is not legal, while cultivation and consumption in a private dwelling is.

This brings the argument regarding legal classification of cannabis species full-circle. There is still a great deal of misinformation around cannabis.

Cannabaceae, the family of flowering plants of which cannabis is a genus, has numerous species including the widely recognised cannabis sativa and cannabis indica, each with their noticeably different characteristics.

cannabis-plant-close-up

It can be confusing to differentiate dagga from hemp. When discussing hemp, this refers to multiple varieties of cannabis sativa that are bred not for psychoactive properties, but for the fibre and oils used to produce commercial products.

Hemp also usually contains high levels of CBD, which is known to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC. Cannabis indica and other types of cannabis sativa are selectively bred specifically for their medicinal qualities and for recreational use.

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