Dagga Party supports the growing cannabis market

Thousands of people marching during the 14th annual walk for the legalisation of cannabis in South Africa through the Cape Town CBD in 2016.

Cape Town should be proud of its cannabis culture, says the Dagga Party, as the legalisation for public benefit would result in an economic boom.

And although there are many grey areas around its legality, the cannabis culture is already showing the potential to become a growing industry.

Supporting this theory is the Dagga Party’s founder and leader Jeremy Acton and Eben Jansen, who will be running for mayor in the elections on Friday November 1.

Mr Jansen, who is a former news anchor from Sea Point, is also the Dagga Party’s candidate for Ward 115, which includes the city centre, as well as Woodstock, parts of Salt River, parts of District Six, Sea Point, Mouille Point, Green Point and parts of Gardens.

The party is campaigning for the legalisation of dagga as poverty alleviation and believes municipalities should be able to self regulate regarding cannabis. They are also campaigning for Cape Town to become a cannabis homeland.

They also want to boost resources for job creation by mass cultivation of cannabis for industrial purposes; to promote and enable urban agriculture and biodiversity initiatives; address homelessness by the establishment of regulated, safe mini-home parks; and promote health and first aid against Covid-19, among other things.

“Green gold (dagga) is something I believe in and something the nation must embrace to re-ignite our failing economy,” said Mr Jansen.

Rastafarian lawyer Gerald Prince, right, with Dagga Party founder Jeremy Acton at the Constitutional Court last year.

In 2018, the Constitutional court ruled that dagga or marijuana was legal for private use in South Africa.

A year later, in 2019, Goodleaf, the leading retail manufacturer of products that contain cannabidiol (CBD) oil, opened its doors in the city centre.

According to the Central City Improvement District’s (CCID’s) state of the central city report, in a review of 2020 released earlier this month, business at Goodleaf showed positive 2020 growth despite the pandemic. Online sales also spiked between April and September, peaking in June 2020.

According to the report, Wesgro has confirmed that production of medicinal cannabis has started in Cape Town. The prospect of a legalised, regulated cannabis industry has propelled investor interest since February 2020, thanks to government regulating the commercial use of hemp products.

While medicinal cannabis is still an emerging sector, projections from Wesgro’s Investing in Cannabis in South Africa March 2021 report suggests that the global legal cannabis market is set to grow by 20% a year over the next 10 years.

By 2023, Africa’s legal cannabis market could be worth $7.1 billion (about R104 billion) a year.

Of this, South Africa’s medicinal cannabis market is projected to reach $667 million (about R10 billion) by 2023.

Economist and trend analyst Bronwyn Williams believes South Africa should move fast to take advantage of the emerging, global opportunity. “We need to make sure regulation enhances the ability of the industry to compete: this market has the opportunity to create more jobs and a more inclusive economy.”

Mr Acton said people are now wise to the economic necessity of unlocking cannabis as an industrial and nutritional source.

This makes them reasonably confident that the Dagga Party will obtain at least one seat at the elections next month, he said, but they are hoping that all their candidates in Cape Town will win seats.

The Dagga Party was established in 2009 by members of the cannabis culture in Robertson. The party took part in the local government elections in May 2011 but did not win a seat. During this time, Mr Acton was arrested for possession of dagga four times and this led to the constitutional challenge against the prohibition of dagga, and later, more members of the cannabis culture joined the movement.

Mr Acton said the Dagga Party was named after careful thought about the historical, social and emotional impact of the word in society in South Africa – the word by which the cannabis plant was vilified, the unforgettable South African word. “The name of the party was activism in itself, taking the word back from the prohibitionist oppressor State… The party name literally enables the voter to vote for dagga as a resource.”

Mr Acton said the party does not consider cannabis as a drug, but as beneficial, industrial and nutritional, as well as a tourism resource, and a medically beneficial substance that promotes peace, empathy and well-being.

He said while CBD outlets and products are presently legal as long as they make no claim that their CBD products are a cure for any ailments, they look forward to a society that cultivates dagga and full extract cannabis products on a mega scale for industry, clean energy, nutrition, tourism, health, and recreation.

It’s high time that Cape Town leads the way, said Mr Acton

The party does not receive funding.

Dagga party ward candidate

Dagga Party Ward 115 candidate, Eben Jansen

Ward 115 candidate Eben Jansen is a journalist who runs a marketing agency, and also farms, trades and exports medicinal cannabis.

Living in Sea Point, he spends a lot of time in the city, and is a member at the local gym. He will be joining the Metropolitan Golf club too. “To make a contribution you have to immerse yourself in the community.”

Besides promoting the cannabis industry, safety is one of the issues that Mr Jansen wants to address. He wants to see Capetonians come back to have fun in the city, and feel safe enough to walk the streets at night.

However, his first contribution would be speed humps on Beach Road, he said, as it is “ridiculous how fast they drive – dogs, children and the elderly are at risk every day.”