The Free State considers the cannabis industry to be a great opportunity for it to grow its economy. This is according to Thuso Ramaema, the Deputy Director General of Policy, Planning and Governance from the Premier’s Office.
Bloemfontein Courant spoke to Ramaema during a 3-day Cannabis Expo at Urth Garden Centre in Bloemfontein. The expo was held by the Free State Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (Destea), in collaboration with the Cannabis Development Council (CDC).
“For many years our people have been using cannabis to generate an income, even though this was illegal, but with the decriminalisation of cannabis for personal use we are seeing a shift in the thinking behind its uses. But what we are mainly focused on its medicinal properties and this becoming commercial.
“Government still needs to formalise the rules and regulations regarding the farming and distribution of cannabis. We are also looking at the various ways hemp can be used in restoring soil which has been destroyed by mining operations so that it can then be used as farming land. We have to acknowledge the Rastafari community for preserving the knowledge surrounding cannabis use, and for ensuring that the negative connotations surrounding it are destigmatised.”
Thau Thau, head of the strategic communications for CDC and the chairman of the All Africa Rastafari Gathering Organising Committee, said that the expo Is a continuation of the work done by the All Africa Rastafari Gathering, which started in 2017 in Ethiopia. It takes place annually and is aimed at an inter Africa trade among the Rastafari.
“We are not very informed and we are fed little information, so the idea here is that we need to create our own paradigm of knowledge, because Rastafari is a learned behaviour,” said Thau.
Angie Itholeng, a member of the Cannabis Development Council, said that what she had witnessed at the expo was inspiring and encouraging. “Destea is ready to get into the industry and assist us. Seeing them on board is encouraging.” – Seithati Semenokane