Africa’s very first medical cannabis dispensary has been opened on 1st June 2018. The dispensary was opened in the city of Durban located in South Africa. For sure, South Africa is different from the rest of this vast continent due to many years of European colonialization. However, we still feel this is somewhat of a milestone moment for the entire African continent.
This particular dispensary will tailor a range of items containing cannabidiol (CBD) shipped in from abroad. None of these cannabis-containing products will be produced locally in South Africa. Cannabidiol is believed to offer users many medical and therapeutic benefits.
Medicines Control Council legalised CBD back in October 2017, so we expect many cannabis dispensaries to open in South Africa over the coming years. The new law now makes it legal to possess and uses CBD if obtained via a medical prescription. The law does not legalise cannabis consumption for merely social reasons.
It’s important to note that South Africa’s first cannabis dispensary does not sell products containing THC. THC is the substance that allows you to feel ‘high’ when you consume cannabis. THC remains illegal for both social and medical purposes throughout South Africa.
South Africa’s first dispensary was set up by Krithi Thaver, a local businessman and investor. The dispensary is located in the Holistic Relief Wellness and Pain Management Centre in central Durban. Thaver aims to use the dispensary as a means of further liberalising South Africa’s laws relating to cannabis possession. Thaver will also run workshops that will teach attendees how to produce their own cannabis products from their own home using international standards developed in the USA.
Thaver says South African society largely stigmatises the use of cannabis. Many people equate the use of cannabis with the use of hard drugs. It will clearly take time for these attitudes to change. This stigma prevents many South Africans from benefiting from cannabis’ medical and therapeutic properties.
The dispensary’s main product will be CBD oil, which contains may be used in many different situations to treat medical problems such as alleviating pain caused by epilepsy, cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes to name but a few.
Many believe dispensaries will now proliferate in South Africa in the same way they have in certain US States. Some even believe this is the first step to decriminalising cannabis in South Africa. Many people in South Africa are being criminalised due to minor possession offences and some believe the policy of cannabis prohibition has failed.
Thaver concedes that public opinion will need to change before cannabis may be decriminalised. His aim is to achieve this through educating the public about cannabis’ scientifically proven health and therapeutic benefits which he feels are undeniable.
This development relating to cannabis laws is not unique to South Africa within the African continent. For instance, in April 2018, Zimbabwe passed a law allowing people to cultivate cannabis for both research and medical purposes. Those seeking to grow cannabis for these reasons must first apply for a license.
Lesotho, a landlocked country surrounded by South Africa, also legalised the production of cannabis for medical purposes, although licenses have only been granted to foreign companies and not to local farmers.