Cannabis Grow Facility

Since the legalisation of recreational cannabis in 2018, South Africa has become a major player in the global supply of medicinal cannabis products. Now, high-THC medicinal cannabis can be grown under a license from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) and the industry is growing rapidly. According to the Prohibition Partners’ African Cannabis Report, the market value of South African medicinal cannabis would likely reach R11-billion (£500 million) in 2023.

Due to strict licensing controls and exacting quality standards in the industry, South African THC flower is well suited to meet the standards required for medicinal cannabis. However, for buyers looking to purchase South African THC flower and export it to be sold in their own country, there are several challenges they must face.

For anyone starting out in the industry, it can be tricky to find the right partners, source correctly licensed suppliers and manage the necessary export/import procedures.

Licenses Required to Grow Cannabis in South Africa

To legally grow high-THC cannabis flower in South Africa you must hold licenses from the South African Health Product Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA). SAHPRA is a Section 3A public entity formed by the South African Government to regulate health products including the cultivation and production of cannabis.

In order to successfully apply for a SAHPRA license the applicant must already have an appropriate facility along with various partnerships and procedures in place. This includes partnerships with seed banks, waste management companies and lab testing facilities. During the application process, the premises will be inspected by SAHPRA which will be charged on a per-hour basis. The entire licensing process for successful applicants will likely take about two years.

Once a producer holds a SAHPRA license to produce cannabis they must comply with several strict regulations. This includes personnel standards, security measures, labelling, record keeping and reporting. Plants must also be cultivated, harvested and packaged according to SAHPRA guidelines.

While this can be challenging for new producers it means that not just anyone can start producing cannabis and sets the high standards South African THC flower is known for.

Legally Shipping Cannabis from South Africa

For companies or individuals looking to purchase THC flower in bulk and successfully export it from South Africa, there are 5 main stages they must complete:

  1. Apply for all relevant licenses – Most countries where medical cannabis has been legalised have strict standards regarding the importation of THC flowers. The first step to importing cannabis from South Africa is to apply for all the licenses required by your local authorities for import, storage and retail.
  2. Apply for an import permit – You’ll need to register as an importer with the relevant authority in your country. This will then allow you to create an application for an import permit. Application for a permit to import THC flowers can take about a month to process.
  3. Find a licensed supplier – Your choice of supplier is key to this entire process. You must locate a supplier with the correct licenses and the ability to supply THC flowers of the quality and quantities you require. The best suppliers will have a track record in cultivating high-quality genetics and will be able to provide access to all the relevant tests and scientific data. CannaEx Trades has one of the largest networks of suppliers in the industry and can advise you on your selection of genetics or even provide a completely bespoke service. All our flower is grown indoors using patented smart aeroponic systems.
  4. Check relevant testing and paperwork – A good supplier will be able to provide you with all the relevant testing and paperwork to be compliant in South Africa; however, it’s down to you to check that it meets the required standards on your import license. Paperwork will likely include a phytosanitary certificate and evidence of compliance with GMP standards. The flower itself will need to meet the requirement for medical cannabis in the importing country. Typically the minimum standards will include AAA-grade trimmed buds, low to non-existent microbial reports, free from heavy metals and no damage from issues during cultivation. THC-dominant strains must usually have a minimum of 20% THC with the highest possible levels of terpenoids and flavonoids.
  5. Engage regulated and licensed logistics company – When your product is ready you will need a logistics company that has the correct licenses and permissions to transport medical cannabis products.

What Must an Exporter/Buyer Do?

To legally sell and export THC flower from South Africa exporters must complete the following stages:

  1. Prepare premises and partnerships, then apply for the relevant SAHPRA licenses – There are many standards to reach to become a SAHPRA-licensed supplier. The process can take two years or more and includes a range of inspections and additional requirements.
  2. Find a buyer – Once your grow operation is licensed and up and running, you’ll need to locate a buyer looking to import medical cannabis into their country.
  3. Agree on a cultivation plan – As the supplier, you’ll need to agree on the genetics you’ll supply and set up a cultivation plan to achieve your buyer’s goals. To create a successful partnership, you must ensure you can meet the standards required for the SAHPRA license and the buyer’s import permit. You also have to comply with the production quotas set by the International Narcotic Drugs Control Board and enforced by SAHPRA. If the INCB quotas are exceeded you could be ordered to destroy crops.
  4. Conduct all testing required for licenses and permits – Both the export and import permits require specific tests to be conducted to verify the content and health of the THC flower. You will need to apply for a phytosanitary certificate from DALRRD (Department of Agriculture). and may need to provide evidence of meeting GMP standards.
  5. Apply for an export permit – When the crop and testing data are ready you will need to apply for an export permit. The export permit application has to be accompanied by Certificates of Analysis (COAs), Microbial Analyses, and heavy metals reports from approved laboratories.  This process will likely take up to a month.
  6. Compile all necessary documentation – Once you have the export permit and all the necessary documents, they must be compiled and prepared to accompany the shipment. Some importing companies may require you to upload copies of these documents to a central online portal before an import license will be granted.
  7. Pack and ship – The THC flower must be packed correctly and collected by the licensed logistics company.

How Can I Make This Process Easier?

Navigating the South African cannabis industry and finding a licensed supplier can be challenging. The most effective way to find the best suppliers and buy high-quality flowers in bulk ready for export is to work with CannaEx Trades. CannaEx Trades is partnered with over 20 licensed cannabis cultivation facilities in South Africa and can provide all the necessary licenses for a streamlined export process.

CannaEx Trades works closely with South African suppliers, providing them with exceptional genetics and expert cultivation advice, to ensure they always get the best results for their customers. Our flower is grown using smart aeroponic systems with strict protocols and monitoring in place. We offer a broad range of strains available as well as the facility to grow to order genetics of your choosing. The location of our partner suppliers and their efficient working practices means that we can offer a higher level of quality and affordability than other producers.

Wherever you want to export the THC flower to, we can provide the relevant accreditation and meet the necessary standards, including for:

  • Good Agriculture Collection Practices (GACP)
  • Control Union Medical Cannabis Standard (CUMCS) IMC-GAP 4
  • EU-Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP)

A full panel of lab reports is available, including certificates of analysis, microbiological profiles, heavy metal screening, stability reporting and e-beam radiation testing if required.

CannaEx Trades specialises in using our global network of connections to match buyers and sellers, simplifying and speeding up the process of getting THC flower to market. Not only do we have all the accreditations in place to export South African THC flower worldwide, but we will also manage all the legal aspects such as contracts, sales agreements and logistics.

If you would liek to know more get in touch with us via the details below.