Johannesburg, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – 22nd Jun, 2023 ) :In a leafy suburb of Johannesburg, South Africa, green leaves adorn the walls of a school where students learn how to grow cannabis — but smoking pot is banned.
The teaching aims to dispel stigma around marijuana, says Linda Siboto, the co-founder of the institution, which styles itself as Africa‘s first cannabis academy.
The academy is hoping to ride a global re-think of cannabis regulations.
From Spain to California, a growing number of governments are allowing people to light up.
President Cyril Ramaphosa last year said cannabis has “huge potential” to draw investments and “create more than 130,000 new jobs“, a big pull in a country with an ailing economy and massive unemployment.
Named after a slang word for weed, the Cheeba Cannabis Academy is preparing students to partake in the expected bonanza.
– Droopy plants – School days start with a yoga session, under a holistic approach, with subject matters including business, nutrition and futurism.
On a Thursday morning, about a dozen students sit at wooden desks before donning white coats to enter a laboratory at the back of the classroom.
There Darian Jacobsen, a passionate cultivation teacher, showcases different pruning techniques before moving onto some common-sense tips that learners note down on their pads.
“She’s not dead, sick or dying, she’s just a little thirsty,” Jacobsen, 28, says of a droopy-looking plant he takes out of an indoor grow tent.
The academy started offering online classes in 2020 before moving to its current premises last year. The flagship course lasts 12 weeks and costs around $1,600.
Selling the stuff outside the medical realm remains a crime.
Cannabis clubs, a system where members pay to have their plants looked after, have sprung up across the country, but the legality of the concept is currently being tested in court.
Meanwhile the government has handed out hundreds of licences to grow hemp and medical cannabis.
But even here the industry is struggling to take off, analysts say.
Cannabis cultivation is a more than a century old tradition in parts of the country.
“We have incredible sun here and lots of land, legacy growers and experience,” says Cheeba’s co-founder Trenton Birch.
Many big growers are also having a hard time, says pharmaceutical expert and cannabis entrepreneur, Johann Slabber.
They produce more than enough to cover local needs but can’t export to Europe — the main target market — because their standards are too low and raising them often entails starting over from scratch, he says.
Out of almost 100 licensed farmers of medical cannabis, only five are currently exporting “on bulk scale” he says.
Still, despite the challenges, many are betting on the industry to succeed.
Expecting an increase in demand for specialised workers, other education providers have started operating alongside Cheeba.
This content was originally published here.