How marijuana legalization in South Africa is excluding traditional growers

  • Vumani Mkhize
  • BBC Africa Business, Umthatha

People sitting next to marijuana flowers
photo caption,

Small Cannabis Growers Say They’ve Been Harmed by South Africa’s New Legislation

For generations, residents of one province in South Africa have made a living growing cannabis. Now, as the country moves towards marijuana legalization, these small growers could have advantages on the horizon. But that’s not quite how things are going.

The journey from Umthatha to the village of Dikidikini in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa is a picturesque journey filled with endless vistas, secluded estates and winding roads that cut through rolling green hills that can easily be mistaken for cornfields – but they are not.

“That’s weed,” says my local guide and cannabis activist Greek Zueni. “Everyone here cultivates. That’s how they make a living.”

Cannabis, colloquially known as “umthunzi wez’nkukhu”, or “shadow chicken”, is an intrinsic part of many rural communities in Pondoland of the Eastern Cape and a vital source of income.

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