Cannabis: Black farmers to ‘shut down’ regulator

The Black Farmers’ Association of South Africa claim they are excluded from opportunities in cannabis cultivation. Thousands of BFASA supporters will now march over the exclusion of black farmers from the cannabis industry

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The Black Farmers’ Association of South Africa (BFASA) have threatened to shut down the regulatory authority for allegedly excluding them from opportunities in the rapidly growing cannabis industry.

BFASA says it has written to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) amid concerns that the cannabis industry is not being steered in a sustainable nor inclusive manner.

Dr Lennox Xolile Mtshagi, president of the Black Farmers' Association of South Africa. Photo: BFASA
Dr Lennox Xolile Mtshagi, president of the Black Farmers’ Association of South Africa. Photo: Supplied/BFASA

In a heated letter by Dr Lennox Xolile Mtshagi, BFASA’s national president and chairperson of UHM, the farmers’ organisation say they have been granted a permit to march to SAHPRA’s offices on 22 April 2021.

Thousands of BFASA members and affiliates have apparently already been mobilised for support.

“SAPHRA has maliciously and deliberately blocked every aspect of the cannabis and hemp industry. Job creation. Investment from keen investors. Untold agricultural, industrial, recreational, and traditional healing methods are thwarted selfishly,” Mtshagi wrote in his letter to SAHPRA.

‘SAPHRA should stay in their lane’

Mtshagi added, “They should only concentrate on the control of medicines which require a doctor’s prescription and free cannabis and hemp for all other uses immediately and to the benefit of all the peoples of South Africa.”

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ALSO READ: Cannabis farming: 6 tips to get growing

Furthermore, BFASA vows to institute legal action against SAHPRHA for their apparent procrastination and blatant disregard of promises made in public, as well as undertakings to provide pre-licenses to six black farmer entities.

These are Chumani Logistics, BFASA Training and Development Academy, BFASA Investment Cooperation, BFASACANN, Seven Leaves Farming and Bfasa Mpilo Cannabis Investment.

BFASA has made a number of claims about SAHPRA, including that:

Dr Zweli Mkhize, the minister of health. Photo: Supplied/GCIS
Dr Zweli Mkhize, the minister of health. Photo: Supplied/GCIS
  • SAHPRA has handed the cannabis industry to “white monopoly colonialists”;
  • SAHPRA services and maintains the “white monopoly colonialists” in the cannabis industry with no intent to allow “the less fortunate and previously disadvantaged into the industry”;
  •  the licensing system is allegedly “rigged with ridiculous systems that are too expensive to ensure that our previously disadvantaged has minimal method of entry”;
  • SAHPRA board members are apparently on the record that Dr Zweli Mkhize, minister of health, is to blame for the monopolisation of the cannabis industry. They alleged that Mkhize grants licenses to white-owned companies; and
  • SAHPRA gives no support or opportunity to black farmers who cannot afford their “normal” standard of entry.

In October last year, SAHPRA refuted claims made by BFASA that they are corrupt entity with an inclination towards white bias. SAHPRA said it is subject to, among others, the public finance management act, and therefore conducts itself with the utmost integrity and prides itself in the ethos of transparency.

ALSO READ: Cannabis can ‘save poor from wicked hands of poverty’

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