JOHANNESBURG – Vendors at the Cannabis Expo say they are thrilled that the Health Department and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) are investing more time and effort into cannabis-based research for the product range.
The continent’s biggest cannabis expo launched in Johannesburg in 2018 – has spread far and wide across provinces in South Africa and even internationally to Mexico.
The CSIR has started collaborating with local cannabis-based businesses to help improve the reliability of the herbal industry – opening up what used to be a closed market in the economy.
With over one hundred stalls at this year’s event – the expo’s director Silas Howarth talks about the potentiality of the market stimulating the South African economy.
“This industry has got such massive potential and it’s so exciting to see it, and you see it here when you’re walking around the cannabis expo and it will really help the country move forward and create a cannabis industry that can benefit South Africa and the South African economy create jobs and bring money into the economy”
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Meanwhile, medical professionals and academics attending the cannabis expo say they’re looking into expanding medical cannabis as a greater replacement to opioids in the country.
Doctors hosting seminar talks at the expo stressed that even though pharmaceuticals are dominant in the medical industry, legal medication has still led to a huge opioid crisis in South Africa that has borne addiction, deaths, and overdoses.
The canna community has grown tremendously in the country – opening a market of demand that hasn’t been met due to the herb being rejected since the 60’s when international governments declared it the devil’s herb.
Attendees at the expo respond to what they think about people who rule out the medicinal plant as evil.
“I don’t believe it’s the devil’s herb,” said one attendee.
Another one said: “People like that are in need of education”.
As stigma breaks, the research develops and minds open, medical scientist Dr Shiksha Gallow said that she foresees a move away from opioid usage towards a healthier alternative medication.
“There’s a huge opioid crisis because of addiction, and we know the cannabis is safer, we know it works for chronic pain …so now we’re doing research within the South African context. Don’t get me wrong there are side effects (with cannabis), but if you’re dosed correctly, you will not experience any of the side effects.”
The three-day event will wrap up on Sunday.