WATCH | The Cannabis Expo returns: 'It's one of our biggest shows'

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  • The Cannabis Expo returned to the Sandton Convention Centre last week.
  • It featured a cannabis food market, industry experts as speakers, and a freedom music festival. 
  • There were more than 100 exhibitors. 

After an almost two-year hiatus, the Cannabis Expo at the Sandton Convention Centre is back.

The organisers had to halt operations following the rapid spread of Covid-19.

"It's one of our biggest shows, with exhibitors from all around the world and Africa. There is a freedom festival outside, there's a cannabis food market, and there's a conference going on as well, with different speakers presenting talks and panel discussions," the expo's director, Silas Howarth, told News24.    

He said his team was pleasantly surprised the industry had grown during the hiatus, with the expo seeing more than 100 exhibitors during the four-day extravaganza last week.

A boom in the industry

The expo featured an array of cannabis-inspired entertainment and merchandise.

The local market has grown in recent years, particularly after the Constitutional Court's 2018 landmark judgment, which decriminalised forms of personal consumption of cannabis.

READ | Sahpra says no to Sputnik V Covid-19 vaccine - for now

"When cannabis was legalised three years ago, we stepped forward as one of the first cannabis distribution companies. We pride ourselves as the apple of cannabis' eye - we combine software and hardware, so we are involved from seed to sale," Canna Trade Africa CEO, Myron Krost, told News24.

Canna Trade Africa is also passionate about teaching their clientele the A-Z of cannabis and the market.

"We want to help people understand better habits with cannabis and the wellness aspect of cannabis," said Krost.  

To infinity and beyond

The interest in the South African cannabis industry has begun to garner interest from abroad, with international investors and funders looking to support small and commercial-scale operations.

The international medicinal cannabis platform, JuicyFields, is currently expanding its presence in South Africa. It connects individual investors with licensed producers and distributors.

"We are the main sponsors of cannabis exhibitions around the world. We help people do business and make money, and help people who produce cannabis products. On our platform, we have 200 000 registered users around the world," Juicy Fields CEO Alan Glance told News24. 

'I want to start my cannabis farm'

Attendee and farming enthusiast, Ele Mathobo, told News24 she wants to learn more about the industry.

"I want to start my cannabis farm, cultivation and a shared space. I have realised that it is challenging for black women to start their cannabis businesses, mostly because of finance and male saturation. I am exploring ways to include as many women as possible to start their cannabis ventures," Mathobo said.

READ | Govt reveals plan for R28bn dagga industry

Her mother is her biggest inspiration.

"My mother's had several health challenges. This inspired me to explore different ways of helping her cope with the medical issues that she's experiencing. Cannabis showed up as one of the top ways of assisting her, so I started investing my time in research," she said.

Mushrooming towards the future

In addition to cannabis, the expo organisers added a mushroom exhibition - called The Shroom Expo.

It was the first of its kind.

It included exhibitor stands and a mushroom gallery, which hosted local and international industry experts, who discussed a broad range of psilocybin mushroom and psychedelic-related topics.

"I think it's a fascinating component to the show. It's an informative section. It's a schedule seven drug in this country.

"Still, it's about educating people and showing people what's happening in the psilocybin mushroom industry," Howarth said. 

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