South Africa: If You Think Legalising Marijuana is Bad, Think Again

CEO of Go Life International, Gerhard Naude.
5 April 2019

Cape Town — With the cannabis industry exploding, the Cannabis Expo in Cape Town provides the perfect platform for international and local medical health professionals, agribusiness and lifestyle brands to engage with industry experts and the public around this versatile plant.

The Cannabis Expo is the global marketplace for education and innovative products and businesses serving the cannabis industry and its medicinal, agricultural, financial and lifestyle aspects and provides visitors the opportunity to learn all there is to know about cannabis.

The numerous informative talks that are lined up every half-an-hour by industry professionals discuss soils, fertilisers, growing lights and tents to products like chocolate, lollipops, and chewing gums, all with the marijuana flavour.  This conference really has it covered for everybody. In an interview with allAfrica's Jerry Chifamba (JC), Gerhard Naude (GN) who is CEO of Go Life International, one of the organisers of the expo discusses the healing benefits of the plant and its compounds. Naude thinks marijuana is an amazing product. Excerpts:

Tell us about your company and why you decided to be involved in this?

It's a company listed on the Mauritius stock exchange and also JSE in South Africa. We are a health company and we know that as a supplementary medicine and nutraceutical, cannabis is a product on health that's just amazing and for that reason, as a health company, being in supplementary medicines we know that we also have to be in this.

Does your company have proof of how much cannabis treats if not cures some diseases?

We have already appointed scientists, set-up a lab to do research and development on products on cannabis - but medicinal. We're only speaking of the medicinal side from Go Life. We're trying to look at the bio-availability of the product, it's an oil based product. So things like that are already in our research and technology that's being  developed for the cannabis space.

How does it feel to be part of organising this first expo of this kind in South Africa?

Go Life as a company is tremendously proud of the fact that we can be associated with this expo which was the initiative of guys that really know how to present expos and we and the main presenters are working together. It's just time for South Africans to understand what cannabis is all about and know the advantages and all the benefits that you can get out of cannabis.

What are the difficulties you encounter to roll out your products?

Currently we're not allowed to do anything in South Africa on the retail side, we do have access to licenses in Lesotho and Zimbabwe that was just about a month back when the first licence was issued.

Although Zimbabwe has legalised marijuana, most farmers say the licences are expensive and they can't afford them. What are your thoughts on that?

I think it's not really that expensive. You can't just do it for everybody and give licences is a lot of work. But yes, at the end of the day I think U.S.$47,000 is not really a hefty price.

Don't you think small-scale farmers should be given a chance to also get money in the marijuana farming business considering most of them are the locals?

I think eventually if things are starting to fall into place there will be, that's also something we suggested to eSwatini/Swaziland to set-up like a co-op, where you will then be allowed to issue permits to the people that's been planting this for the last 100 years. They were the ones that took the risk and learnt how to do it and they're generating income out of that. So the government in eSwatini should allow main licencing to give out permits to people so that they can still farm but then they need to supply to a co-op, not travel to South Africa and get arrested.

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