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South African Cannabis Academy Bets on Pot Revolution



Cheeba Africa Logo -Photo: Facebook / @Cheeba Africa

South African Cannabis Academy, Cheeba, located in a lush suburb of Johannesburg, is breaking the stigma and cultivating knowledge about cannabis through education. While the academy teaches students how to grow cannabis, marijuana on the premises is strictly prohibited as reported by The Sun Daily. Co-founder Linda Siboto aims to professionalise the cannabis industry and dispel stereotypes, emphasising that it’s not just about “stoners with red eyes” but a legitimate and diverse field.

The academy is capitalising on the global trend of reevaluating cannabis regulations, with increasing governments worldwide allowing its consumption. In Africa, Lesotho became the first country to legalise the cultivation of medicinal cannabis in 2017, setting a precedent for others like Zimbabwe, Malawi, and South Africa, which aims to become a leading player in the cannabis market. President Cyril Ramaphosa recognises the enormous potential of cannabis to attract investments and generate employment opportunities, which is particularly appealing given the country’s struggling economy and high unemployment rates.

The Cheeba Cannabis Academy, named after a slang term for cannabis, trains students to participate in the anticipated cannabis boom. Siboto emphasises the importance of education and training for the industry’s development. The academy’s curriculum incorporates various subjects such as business, nutrition, and futurism, adopting a holistic approach to education. Practical lessons occur in a laboratory, where students learn about cultivation techniques and receive plant care and maintenance guidance.

Initially offering online classes in 2020, the academy moved to its current physical location. The flagship course spans 12 weeks and costs around $1,600. Since its establishment, the academy has trained approximately 600 individuals. However, the cannabis industry in South Africa faces regulatory uncertainties due to delayed legislation. While the private and personal use of cannabis was decriminalised by South Africa’s top court in 2018, the government has yet to clarify the rules and regulations surrounding cultivation and distribution.

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While the government has issued licenses for hemp and medical cannabis cultivation, analysts suggest that the industry is still struggling to take off. South Africa possesses favourable conditions for cannabis cultivation, including a long-standing tradition, lower costs compared to competitors like Canada, abundant land, favourable weather, and a weaker local currency. However, the licensing system often excludes small-scale farmers who have been growing cannabis illegally for decades, as the initial costs of entering the industry can be prohibitively high.

Despite the challenges, many remain optimistic about the industry’s prospects. The global cannabis market is projected to reach up to $272 billion by 2028, with South Africa’s share expected to increase from $5 million in 2021 to $22 million in 2026, according to Insight Survey, a market research agency. As the demand for specialised workers in the cannabis sector grows, other educational institutions have also started offering courses alongside the Cheeba Cannabis Academy.

While the cannabis industry in South Africa faces obstacles, there is a shared belief in its potential success. The government has committed to streamlining regulations to support market growth. Pharmaceutical expert and cannabis entrepreneur Johann Slabber suggests that funding a manufacturing facility that adheres to European standards and directly exports the processed yield could be a viable solution. Despite current challenges and hurdles, the industry’s potential economic impact and promising market projections make it an enticing field for investors, entrepreneurs, and individuals interested in cannabis education and employment opportunities.

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Photo: Facebook / @Cheeba Africa

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