On Thursday the 29th of October the members of the Black Farmers Association of South Africa (BFASA) in partnership with Dr Dooby, a cannabis medication manufacturer, gathered in Pretoria for a protest march to the SAHPRA offices. The march was graced by the presence of members from the house of monarch who included the Paramount: Chief Donsa, Senior Paramount Chief: Ndlunkulu Mqweba Donsa, mama Shembe, the National Chairman of United Indigenous Leaders: Chief Fanie and Chief Ndzulu, together with the leaders of BFASA who were captained by the president of BFASA Dr. Lennox Mtshagi.
The pro-cannabis marchers took to the street as they marched to SAHPRA offices in Arcadia Pretoria with the big emphasis on “PUTTING AN END TO SAHPRA’S CORRUPTION IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY” this according to the fliers that were distributed on the day.
The President of BFASA Dr. Lennox Mtshagi addressed the crowd of about one-hundred and fifty pro-cannabis marchers stating that as BFASA they “demand a regulating authority which does not serve the needs of selfish colonialist and capitalist monopolies”. Turning the attention to the crowd that had assembled for the march Dr. Lennox stirred up the crowd stating that “fight for your right to uplift yourself and do not fall foul to another rushed corporate capture”, this he said referring to the issuing out of cannabis grow licenses by SAHPRA. The gathered crowd rallied in song and chants as they with no hesitation marched on to the SAHPRA offices to hand over a memorandum demanding an end to the lack of transparency at SAHPRA.
“Today we are here to march against racism. SAHPRA does not cater for black people and it is using a 1965 Act, which is an Apartheid Act, that excludes black people from entering the pharmaceutical field. We are fighting for our rights and the parliament should look at this issue” said the President of BFASA, Dr Lennox Xolile Mtshagi.
The African Cannabis Industry Association (ACIA) spokesperson, Raadia Khan said, “Our focus here is to facilitate BFASA’s negotiations with SAHPRA focusing on forging an amicable engagement. We are here to bring about legislative change in favour of growth”. Raadia continued to state that the march is a platform to raise awareness and a move to propel a dynamic towards the facilitation of “bridging the medical care gap because right now the traditional healers and the indigenous people are being denied licences where profiteers and monopolists are actually getting into the industry and this is why we are here to mobilize and claim cannabis as the people.”
One of the protestors who had travelled overnight for over 1000km as part of a group of cannabis growers from the wild coast of the Eastern Cape narrated how his parents funded his education through the growing of cannabis “ my parents would go to sell cannabis in Durban and sometimes they would get arrested along the way going to sell the insango (cannabis).” He further stated that Cannabis has always been a major part of their livelihood and means to survive, this he stated indicating that as one of the major reasons as to why the government needs to look into the cannabis licensing inequalities; “the indigenous people need an entry into the cannabis industry instead of giving all power to only profiteers and monopolists” he concluded.
The use of cannabis and medicinal marijuana is gaining popularity across Africa as more nations are rolling out medicinal cannabis regulations on a pathway to ease the plight from poverty and numerous afflictions that can be addressed through cannabis. The cannabis industry in South Africa is still an emerging market with immense potential that will not only benefit individuals but also promises to inject billions into the fiscus of South Africa.
In an emerging industry it is paramount that the legalization strides are accommodative and all inclusive. The current process of obtaining a cannabis grow licence from SAHPRA is mystified as the pathways are in contradiction and out of synergy with the mandate of the initial steps that led to decriminalization of cannabis in 2018. Ras Thau Thau Haramanuba lamented that “the rastaman is still selling weed secretly in the community as a snyman (drug dealer) whilst corporates are now publicly selling cannabis in their outlets”. Ras Thau Thau Haramanuba further indicated that “we want indigenous people licenses; we want free licenses.” The representative of the House of Monarchs Chief Fanie the National Chairman of United Indigenous Leaders stated that the main mandate they were present at the event was to stand with the people in face of difficulties and challenges they are facing.