Dagga License South Africa: everything you need to know


It’s 2020 and many of the misperceptions regarding cannabis and licensing have been cleared up, there is no longer an element of taboo when it comes to marijuana. If you’ve decided you want to start growing your own cannabis and want to potentially expand this interest into selling cannabis, then you need to be clued up on all of the information about a dagga license South Africa. In just 6 minutes reading time, find out everything you need to know about a dagga license South Africa.




Dagga License South Africa: Private Growing and Use Without a License


Cannabis was decriminalized in 2018 when the High Court of South Africa found that barring private growth and consumption of the plant infringed on an individual’s rights. Thus, there is no license needed for private growth and consumption. In South Africa an adult can legally have up to 6 mature plants growing and up to 600 grams of dried cannabis, or a maximum of 12 plants and 1200 grams, for a household with two or more adults living in it.


The legal amount that an individual can possess in public is 60 grams of dried cannabis, but public use is still illegal. Selling any cannabis or cannabis products that are grown privately is also illegal and it can only be used by the grower or given as a gift. There is currently no limit to the amount of seeds or saplings that a private user is allowed to have.


Dagga License South Africa: CBD vs THC


Diluted CBD products fall under a different category as long as the daily dosage of CBD is 20mg or less. These can range from infused drinks and alcoholic beverages, sports drinks, desserts and dog biscuits. Any products that contain a higher percentage of CBD or any THC will need to go through proper application and licensing procedures. There are different types of licenses that can be obtained as South African regulations do not fully cover the industry.


Dagga License South Africa: Current Regulations and License Types


Obtaining a license in South Africa is quite a costly and confusing experience. Currently South Africa is one of only three African Countries that permits the growing of cannabis for medical purposes, thus lawmakers don’t have much experience when crafting new regulations. The current processes to obtain a license are very stringent and applications can be sent to the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).




SAHPRA applies standards for the manufacturing, distribution, selling and marketing of medicine, medicinal devices and scheduled substances, cannabis falling under the latter. In terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965, all medical practitioners are permitted to apply to SAHPRA for permission to access and prescribe unregistered medicines when intended to treat their patients. SAHPRA will then review the application and in some cases acknowledge and permit that cannabis products that are intended for medicinal purposes can be made available to specific patients under medical supervision.


Budding growers should take note of this, as under the Medicines Act the cultivation, production, manufacture and medical use of cannabis products may only occur when SAHPRA has issued a license and the Department of Health has issued a permit. The license from SAHPRA will permit and regulate:


  • The cultivation and growth of the cannabis plant.
  • The production of cannabis resin or extracts.
  • The testing of cannabis, cannabis resin or cannabinoids.
  • The manufacturing of medicines containing cannabinoids.


During the application process SAHPRA will inspect plans for the facility and all quality control procedures that will be put in place. Currently there is no limit to the amount of cannabis that can be grown, thus SAHPRA allocates a permitted quantity during each application process on a case-by-case basis.


In addition to all of that, applicants will need to apply to the Director-General of Health for a permit to acquire, possess, use or supply cannabis or any manufactured cannabis product. Although confusing, these strict measures are in place to ensure that any product is 100% safe for medical use.


Your application will need to cover many things about the planned facility apart from security measures and positioning of the plants. The submitted plans will also need to address issues like:


  • Recruitment procedures and forms for job applications
  • Vetting procedures for new applications
  • Document management systems
  • Legal compliance tests and systems
  • Details on the quantities of cannabis intended to be produced
  • Quality control standards for manufacturing
  • The systems in place for the handling of cannabis




Dagga License South Africa: Other License Holders


In April of 2019 four South African companies obtained licenses to supply medicinal cannabis to the export market which involved the cultivation, drying and packaging of cannabis and its oil. Applications for such a setup need to already have an overseas contract in place before making their applications. This can help ensure the validity of the application.


In October of 2019 a strawberry farm in Stellenbosch obtained a commercial license to cultivate cannabis for medical use. This SAHPRA issued license allows them to produce 20 tonnes of dried cannabis in their greenhouse facility and will be used in anti-anxiety medication and food supplements. This license specifically allows the cultivation of cannabis and does not allow for any onsite manufacturing of other cannabis related products.


Dagga License South Africa: Initial Startup Costs


Aside from the costs of obtaining a license and permit, other costs of setting up a standard meeting facility need to be considered. The estimated cost of a fully equipped facility and preparing an application can range between R3 million and R5 million. For cannabis, a drip-based irrigation system would work the best and the cost of such a system for 4 to 5 hectare of cannabis would cost between R1.5 million and R2 million.


Other costs that need to be factored into an application would be land expenses, electricity costs (as lighting will be involved), shelter erection and additional security measures if the current setup is not adequate. According to the Moses Kotane Institute, the costs of licensing alone can cost around R23 000. This is why all applications need to be thoroughly vetted and as stated earlier, an overseas contract usually needs to be in place beforehand.




Dagga License South Africa: Obtaining a Contract and Meeting Standards


Although not mentioned during the SAHPRA and Department of Health applications, any potential user or buyer of the final cannabis product will need to know the THC and CBD potency of the product as this can have a huge effect on not only the value, but also the legality of the product. Any product with more than 0,001% THC and more than 0.0075% CBD requires a prescription for purchase. Testing the potency of cannabis can sometimes be very costly as it could lead to loss of flower during testing, a time delay if a batch has to be sent to a lab for testing or an entire batch having to be wasted if it is found to not reach the correct standards.


The Best Grow has the Gemmacert to help alleviate some of these problems and this machine can analyze cannabis and provide extremely accurate potency measurements for both CBD and THC without harming the flower at all. The machines can also be used an unlimited amount of times, thus sparing the expenses or time involved in sending a batch into a lab for testing. These tests can be sent to potential overseas clients in order to secure contracts that will be needed for a SAHPRA application.


Dagga License South Africa: Legal Assistance


Currently there is only one law firm in South Africa to have a department dedicated to cannabis law, both medicinal and recreational, Schindlers. They have experience advising both South African and International clients in legal growing and uses of dagga. Schindlers’ dedicated cannabis department has a focus on five primary areas relating to the cannabis legal assistance that they provide, they are:


  1. Cannabis Corporate and Intellectual Property Law
  2. Laws Relating to the Recreational Growing and Use of Cannabis
  3. Medicinal Cannabis Licensing and Compliance
  4. Litigations and reviews of decisions made by state functionaries and the protection and preservation of intellectual property, statutory and common law rights
  5. Criminal Defence Litigation relating to cannabis that includes High Court litigation for Stays in Prosecution


Schindlers have been experts in the fields of cannabis legislature for over five years and played a pivotal role in the high court judgement on 18 September 2018 that decriminalized private growing and use of cannabis. This ruling has had a knock on effect and has since led to other South African companies obtaining licenses to cultivate, manufacture and export cannabis and cannabis related products. Tito Mboweni, the South African minister of finance, has even hinted that the cannabis industry could one day aid the South African economy if properly regulated.


Dagga License South Africa: Future Economic Potential


Available statistics revealed that the cannabis industry is worth more than R100 billion worldwide and the UN has stated that South Africa produces 2300 tons of cannabis annually, the third largest in Africa. The African Cannabis Report of March 2019 estimated that by 2023, the total value of South Africa’s cannabis industry would be around R26 billion, if the government is able to move quickly over the regulation of the plant and its related products. The Western Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal would be especially advantaged as they have fair climates for growth of the plant and already have port infrastructure for exporting the finished products overseas.


Dagga License South Africa: The Best Grow Services


The Best Grow has a team that have travelled the world to gain experience in the cannabis industry and in the most advanced cultivation techniques. Their goal is to bring the latest cannabis cultivation products to South Africa and are constantly researching the latest trends to find the best updates to the catalogue. They specialise in distributing to other grow and horticulture shops in order to ensure that every potential grower in South Africa can have access to whatever they may need to get their green thumb in the ground.


They have partnered with Cannapro to create premium indoor cannabis facilities for extremely high yields. Together, The Best Grow and Cannapro have decades of professional horticulture experience. They can be contacted to assist with any design and construction of certified indoor grow rooms and greenhouses.


Aside from counsel and experience, The Best Grow also offers products directly from their online store to get you all the way from seed to harvest, as safely and quality assured as possible. They have a wide range of propagators, tents, lighting fixtures and substrates to ensure that all of your plants reach their full life cycle. In addition they have top of the range trimmers and potency testers to allow a grower to easily collect all their final cannabis product and prove that it meets any government specifications.