South Africa: Cape Town wants a slice of global cannabis pie

By Crystal Orderson, in Cape Town

Posted on Thursday, 6 June 2019 17:16
A worker for Canadian cannabis giant Canopy Growth, parent company of Spectrum. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

An untapped economic opportunity is emerging in South Africa after recent changes to its medicines laws, and a landmark Constitutional Court judgment lifted the ban on the private use of marijuana.

One South African economist is bullish about the growth prospects of the cannabis market, saying it could reach billions of dollars.

‘The value of the global cannabis industry is expected to reach $146 billion by the end of 2025,’ according to economist Jee-A van der Linde speaking on the local radio station, Cape Talk.

First cannabis facility

Cape Town will host the country’s first medicinal cannabis plant, producing medical cannabis, cannabis oil and capsules.

‘This is a landmark decision and a first in the country, said Cape Town’s Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos.

He hopes cannabis will put a dent in high unemployment rates, while delivering a much-needed economic boost.

The Canadian-listed pharmaceutical company, Spectrum will build the secure, high-tech plant, investing:

  • R638 million for phase one (includes transfer of land)
  • R1,5 billion for phase two

An estimated 250 jobs will be created. ‘It’s a demonstration of how a municipality is working with the private sector to explore new economic opportunities to grow the local economy,’ said Vos.

  • Spectrum will set up shop in the Atlantis Economic Zone, investing millions in the area.

Renewed hope for Atlantis Special Economic Zone

An apartheid township, Atlantis sits 40 kilometres north on Cape Town on South Africa’s west coast.

  • For years, the Atlantis Special Economic Zone failed to attract new industrial businesses to the area, eventually becoming riddled with crime, and high unemployment.

President Cyril Ramaphosa re-launched the Atlantis Special Economic Zone in December 2018

  • The 124.5-hectare site has since attracted several green-technology companies, becoming a major hub in the Western Cape province.
  • “The Atlantis Zone has already attracted four, large green tech investors, which are fully operational,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa at the launch.

The rise of medical cannabis

Cape Town’s city authorities gave the go-ahead to Spectrum following the two major announcements, unlocking vacant land for the new factory.

South Africa’s Constitutional Court ruled in favour of the private use of marijuana, legalising its growth and consumption in September 2018.





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