Our Durban hemp plantation is legal‚ company says

24 June 2017 - 10:37
By Nivashni Nair
 Protesters demand equal dagga growing opportunity as they march on Durban hemp plantation.
Image: THULI DLAMINI Protesters demand equal dagga growing opportunity as they march on Durban hemp plantation.

A cannabis plantation next to Durban's King Shaka International Airport is for research‚ its owners have said.

"The House of Hemp (HOH) PTY LTD‚ based and operating out of Dube Tradeport at King Shaka International Airport‚ was established in 1999 to conduct research on the health benefits of pharmaceutical grade CBD and other cannabinoids based on legal permits‚ issued by the Department of Health‚ in 1999‚ as part of the National Hemp Foundation project formed to conduct legal research into hemp fibre‚ how to produce fibre‚ hemp seed and later hemp CBD‚" the company said on Friday.

It was responding to a protest by the cannabis community who are demanding answers on why they are being arrested for lighting up a joint when "legal" cannabis is being grown in Durban.

Nine demonstrators‚ representing those lobbying for the absolute legalisation of dagga‚ on Friday afternoon descended on the Agric Zone within the Dube Tradeport where they claim cannabis is being grown "secretly".

The demonstration was sparked by an online blog claiming that House of Hemp was given permission to farm hemp - a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant - in a "16 hectare high tech agricultural development zone".

Leading Friday's demonstration‚ Krithi Thaver of Canna Culture said growing hemp was illegal in South Africa and questioned why House of Hemp was given a special permit to cultivate it when others were being denied the "opportunity to grow and enjoy it".

House of Hemp said its permits were renewed annually‚ with the latest research product permit having expired in April 2017.

"At present HOH is preparing to apply for a licence to continue research on quality CBD and to commercially produce the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API).

"Currently no research is being conducted or any plants grown at the facility pending final guidelines from Department of Health.

"At present HOH is waiting on medical cannabis guidelines from the Medical Control Council (MCC) which will provide guidelines for the public with regards to general medical cannabis use‚" the company said.

The research done at House of Hemp‚ under the auspices of the Agricultural Research Council (ARC)‚ to date includes "the growing of the cannabis plant in a controlled environment‚ the extraction of the oil from seeds‚ the fibre from bast and Cannabidiol from the buds; the analysis of these by-products and research into the developing of subsequent products for medicinal and industrial and pharmaceutical use".

"HOH does not‚ and have never‚ sold any plants or by-products from these research projects‚" the company said in its statement.

In March this year‚ the Western Cape High Court ruled that laws prohibiting the use of cannabis and the possession‚ purchase or cultivation of it in private homes and for personal consumption were unconstitutional.

Judge Dennis Davis gave Parliament 24 months to make the relevant changes to the legislation but added that until the law was changed dagga was still an illegal substance.

Davis' ruling addressed the issue of the right to privacy however Myrtle Clarke and Julian Stobbs‚ known as the dagga couple‚ are fighting in the Pretoria High Court for the legalisation of cannabis‚ which will allow users to smoke outside their homes.

- TimesLIVE