Question NW1377 to the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

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22 May 2023 - NW1377

Profile picture: Tarabella - Marchesi, Ms NI

Tarabella - Marchesi, Ms NI to ask the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Innovation

(1)Whether the Republic is currently conducting Cannabidiol (CBD) research; if not, why not; if so, (a) what specific outcomes are envisaged to be gained from the research, (b) what total number of studies are being conducted and (c) where do the scientists get the resources required for the research; (2) whether there is a particular strain that the scientists are working on; if not, what is the position in this regard; if so, what are the relevant details; (3) (a) who are the beneficiaries of CBD research and (b) what total number of (i) women and (ii) persons living with disabilities who own spin-off companies and/or start-ups have benefited from the research?


1. Various government entities and private organisations are conducting research on cannabis species, i.e., hemp and marihuana. The Cannabis Industrialisation Masterplan prioritises research, development and innovation on CBD for various health conditions and industrial applications.

a) It is envisaged that various research outcomes from CDB research will yield commercial health products for the treatment of priority health conditions like cancers, diabetes, neurogenerative diseases, hypertension, depression and selected infectious diseases such as upper respiratory infections, etc.

b) The current landscape on cannabis research has been part of the discussion of the Masterplan Committees. The DSI’s African natural medicines consortium has been tasked to investigate this by the Presidency-commissioned team. However, the DSI is currently funding a consortium of researchers and indigenous knowledge holders at the Council for Industrial and Scientific Research, University of Free State, Agricultural Research Council, University of Pretoria, and University of KwaZulu-Natal.

c) The DSI funds a consortium of universities, science councils and indigenous knowledge holders. The Department of Small Business Development and Gauteng Department of Agriculture and Economic Development has also partnered with the DSI team led by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

2. Various research consortia, both private and government-led teams are studying various cannabis strains found in and around South Africa. The DSI teams are interested in local land races of marihuana and hemp. The focus is on two new strains of hemp being investigated by the Agricultural Research Institute, and both Cannabis sativa and indica strains for industrial, medicinal, cosmeceutical and nutraceutical applications.

(3a) The DSI Consortium priorities indigenous knowledge holders as beneficiaries, whilst the Department of Small Business Development beneficiate rural or village farmers and small, medium and micro enterprises. There is currently no country data on the total number of research projects, beneficiaries and breakdown by gender, age or people living with disabilities. The Masterplan in general recognises the need to beneficiate these two groups, including women, youth and people living with disabilities.

(3b) The DSI in partnership with the DSB and Gauteng Department of Agriculture are supporting 20 small, medium and micro-enterprises at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.

(i) Of the 20 small, medium and micro-enterprises supported, 13 are owned and led by women who are or work indigenous knowledge holders.

(ii)There are no people living with disabilities, but there is a consideration to publish a directed call at people living with disabilities in the second phase of the programme.

The start-ups will receive two value-added products each and will have the potential of employing up to ten individuals each. A follow-up study will be conducted to evaluate their impact following upscaling of their projects. The DSI is funding infrastructure initiatives to support cannabis research in various universities and science councils.

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