Photo via: Facebook / BFASA

SAHPRA denies black farmers’ allegations of cannabis license prejudice

BFASA allege that SAHPRA favours white people when issuing dagga licenses under instruction from Zweli Mkhize. The regulator denies the claims.


Photo via: Facebook / BFASA

The Black Farmers’ Association of South Africa (BFASA) claims that the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) is favouring white citizens and foreign-owned companies while excluding black, indigenous, people when issuing licenses to grow cannabis.

SAHPRA denied the allegations, saying that it treats all applicants equally and does not practise prejudice. BFASA also claimed Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize was the person granting licenses to white owned companies, which the health regulator also denied.


SAHPRA issued a statement that denied all allegations made by BFASA and explained that the current legislature does not allow it to issue cannabis licenses for non-medicinal commercial purposes, including for use in food.

The regulator added that the process to obtain a license to grow cannabis for medicinal purposes is a rigorous one. According to SAHPRA, there are many role-players involved in the regulation of the current and possible future uses of cannabis, including the Departments of Health, Agriculture and Rural Development, the Trade Industry and Competition and the South African Police Service (SAPS).

“The allegation that the SAHPRA Board Chairperson, Prof Helen Rees, and the CEO, Dr Boitumelo Semete-Makoktlela, are issuing Medicinal Cannabis licenses to affluent White people on the directive of Minister of Health, Dr Zweli Mkhize, is far from the truth,” said SAHPRA in a statement on 21 April.

The regulator said that Mkhize is not involved with any of SAHPRA’s operations or the issuance of licenses and he did not issue any prejudiced directives.

The relevant parties are in the process of developing a “Cannabis Master Plan” that will serve as a roadmap for the cannabis industry.


The farmers association, which connects “Indigenous People, Monarchs, Traditional Healers, Rural Agriculture and Rastafarians” with the commercial cannabis market, called on all its members to participate in a march to the SAHPRA offices on 22 April.

BFASA said all “illegitimate” licenses must be revoked and called SAHPRA a “constitutional delinquent” when it comes to issuing cannabis licenses.

“SAHPRA’s board mentions on record, that Dr Zweli Mkhize, Minister of Health is to blame for the monopolization of the Cannabis Industry because it is him who grants the licenses to the white owned companies and if that is the truth then Dr Zweli Mkhize must step down,” said BFASA in a statement on 22 April.

BFASA also criticised SAHPRA’s licensing application process and claimed that it is a “fight against radical transformation” and the “highest form of segregating people from rural areas.”