Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies said has his department recognises the potential of hemp farming for the country, along with the commercial value chain which could come with producing and selling cannabis-related products.
Davies said this in a written response to a question from Inkatha Freedom Party MP Narend Singh, which was released by Parliament on Thursday.
IFP MP Mario Ambrosini spent his last days using his position in Parliament lobbying for the decriminalisation of cannabis, primarily for medicinal purposes. He passed away in 2014, after he reached stage four of lung cancer.
Last year, the Western Cape High Court passed a landmark ruling declaring that it was an infringement to ban the use of marijuana by adults in private homes.
Singh asked Davies whether he had met with Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi and the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana, to discuss the socio-economic benefits of the commercialisation of hemp farming in the country.
Davies said he had not had such a meeting, but he recognised the potential value to be derived from commercial value chains of cannabis and related products.
"The department has undertaken research that seeks to understand, from an industrial policy perspective, the obstacles and opportunities for South Africa to become an active and innovative player in this growing market," said Davies.
Davies said opportunities and obstacles to develop industrial capacity and capability for medicinal and related products would be considered.
He said the focus would be to understand the obstacles and opportunities involved in the cultivation of different strains of cannabis with specific THC and CBD composition, the recovery of these compounds in the oil extraction process, and the beneficiation of THC and CBD through the production of medical products.
THC and CBD are both compounds found in cannabis.
Multiple delivery systems such as vapes, sprays, tablets, oils as well as cosmetic and healthcare products such as balms, creams and tinctures would be researched, he said.
"The outcomes of this study will determine a way forward in terms of industrialising this sector in South Africa. Once the study has been concluded, I will engage the Ministers of Health and Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries," Davies said.