Cannabis trade agreement could create 300,000 jobs

THANDO NGOBO
THANDO NGOBO

The currently illegal cannabis industry of Mpondoland is the finest example of an unregulated massive distribution system, from grower to end user.

The old adage goes: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

But do legalise it.

Thando Ngobo, chair of the Cannabis Development Council of the Eastern Cape (CDCEC) speaks about the immense value imbedded in the Green Triangle, an area stretching from Port St Johns, north to Lusikisiki, then on to Libode and Mthatha and back to the coast.

Ngobo says: “Our research shows that, when cannabis is fully legalised, the Green Triangle will produce 300,000 jobs in six years.

“All we need is Eastern Cape premier Oscar Mabuyane to get brave, sign an exclusive Eastern Cape cannabis trade agreement into legality, and announce it at the cannabis summit in East London on Thursday. The USA has set a precedent, with some states embracing cannabis. We must do the same.”

Ngobo’s jobs estimate is based on an expansion of the farming area from the existing 3,000ha to 15,000ha.

He says four families, averaging five people each, make a decent living off a hectare. The triangle has more land than it can use in the short-term.

“This is just farmers. If you take beneficiation into account, cannabis can do with one flourish of the premier’s pen what government has struggled to do for 10 years. It could be the end of social grants, which are effectively financing Mpondoland, as more jobs are created. Cannabis revolution grants, perhaps?” he suggested.

“Legality’s immediate economic impact will result in stripping the cannabis trade of the criminal protection factor, where massive bribes, mainly to law enforcement and to drug cartels, drive up the prices.

“That money should be going to new legal distributors and farmers, not criminals. A by-product will be emptying prisons of cannabis offenders.”

Jason Law, a director and treasurer of the CDCEC, said: “The industry is already profitable. Legality will see the Triangle’s Landrace cannabis variety become an internationally renowned and demanded product. Our job is to assist communities to keep the financial benefits localised.”

Law’s main concern is that overseas interests have their eyes on Mpondoland. He is worried they will marginalise local growers, take over distribution, and perhaps even lead to deals with chiefs for control of massive tracts of Green Triangle land.

“However, the biggest concern is that local farmers could be pressured into growing strains with a lower THC content, the natural compound that gives the kick prized by recreational users, but frowned upon by many governments. THC does for cannabis what alcohol content does for wine, beer and spirits,” he said.

“If growers are pressured, perhaps through offers of higher prices for plants with cannabidiol, which has a lower kick, to abandon Landrace cannabis, it will be the start of the end for the triangle. Mpondoland will revert to what it is today, a struggling land with little prospects of improving.”


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