The Cannabis Expo
Time Square, Menlyn, Pretoria
December 13 to 16
R150 at computicket.com
On September 19, the Constitutional Court legalised the private use and cultivation of dagga for those over the age of 18.
Although selling cannabis is still illegal, this breakthrough in legislation has freed individuals from criminal prosecution and opened up the doors for weed entrepreneurs.
After all, the global legal marijuana industry is expected to rake in $146.4 billion (R2.07 trillion) by 2025, according to US-based market research company Grand View Research.
So, the timing of this event, the very first of its kind in the country – and the continent – is perfect. Public interest in The Cannabis Expo, happening in Pretoria this week, has been huge, with 20 000 visitors expected and all exhibitor stands sold out.
Expo co-founder and director Silas Howarth told City Press that the event was aimed at both private users and growers.
“This is a public expo, so recreational marijuana users, as well as people interested in its health benefits, will be a very important part of the event,” he said.
“There will also be opportunities for business-to-business interaction, and ordinary visitors can come to find out more about the cannabis industry and the business side of growing marijuana.”
The expo will operate within the parameters of the law, with no weed sold and no smoking of marijuana allowed on the premises.
It turns out that the business side is bursting with potential, with anyone in the world now able to invest in cannabis stocks. “ED Equities will have a stand at the expo,” explained Howarth.
“They have cannabis stocks on the New York Stock Exchange and they will show people how easy it is to invest in cannabis stocks. You can read plenty of articles online about the cannabis stock market in America and Canada, and now South Africans can come on board.
“Go Life, a big multinational healthcare company, is our headline partner. They are listed on the JSE and in Mauritius, and will soon be listed on the Canadian Securities Exchange. They have investment opportunities within the industry.
“There are other companies that have big cannabis-growing farms in Lesotho. They are looking for funding and for ordinary people to invest. They sell medicinal marijuana legally.”
We asked Howarth whether he has his own cannabis stocks.
“I’ve been looking at cannabis stock at the moment, and the first thing I’ll be doing at the expo is looking at what I can invest in.”
The financial services side will be well taken care of at the expo, but an equally big part is the growing side.
“What people are really interested in – and our phones have been ringing off the hook – is how to grow your own cannabis,” said Howarth.
“As much as the new ruling now makes it legal, not very many people know how to grow the weed.”
There is an entire industry just around growing it which includes fertilisers, soil, growing lights and hydroponic systems.
“One of our exhibitors is turning his entire stand into a hydroponic tunnel, so visitors can experience it and see how it works,” says Howarth.
Another entrepreneurial opportunity that has opened around growing is to become a cannabis landscaper – someone who is so good at growing that others hire them to come to their property and teach them how to grow. Imagine that on someone’s CV.
And there is always the option of becoming a weedfluencer – a cannabis influencer. Young people can set up social media profiles and once they become known as a prolific person, could be paid by companies for testing different weed vaporisers, making videos about cultivation or trying different strains.
“There are already international and local influencers,” said Howarth. “People like the Dagga Couple are definitely influencers, and they have made a career around the cannabis industry. Internationally, there are a lot of young people who do this, and there is definitely an opportunity for young people. Legally, you can smoke if you’re over 18, so as long as you’re over 18, you can get in there.”
There will be talks every half hour from growing experts, including a cannabis master grower. One of the expo’s biggest exhibitors is a fertiliser company that focuses on fertiliser for your cannabis.
And, one of the most exciting exhibitors will be Andrew Lawrie and Kyle Telfer from Schindlers Attorneys, who will answer questions on what and what isn’t legal to do around cannabis in South Africa.
So, will cannabis be legal to sell anytime soon? “It’s difficult to say,” said Howarth. “But one of the most important functions of this expo is to engage with government and show them the potential of the market and the opportunities it will bring to South Africans.”