11 Marijuana Business Opportunities You Can Launch in South Africa Right Now

The verdict is in: It's not (yet) legal to commercially grow cannabis in South Africa, but there are multiple business opportunities for home growers that are on the right side of the law.
11 Marijuana Business Opportunities You Can Launch in South Africa Right Now
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The Constitutional Court has ruled that the private cultivation, possession and consumption of cannabis is legal. This doesn’t mean that, like America, South Africans can start retailing marijuana and weed-infused products. But, it does mean that a lot more people will be freely using, carrying and growing cannabis and therein lie numerous business opportunities.

It’s quite legal to start a business in an industry that is related to, or supports, the cannabis industry but doesn’t involve directly selling weed. If you think that there’s no money in the budding South African weed industry, take a look at how well America’s industry is doing.

WHAT WOULD AMERICA DO?

The number of marijuana-friendly states in America is steadily growing, with Canada becoming the second country to fully legalise cannabis. Considering the local developments that have made the personal use of marijuana legal, it may be time to start investigating the profitability of a cannabis-related company.

Cannabis stocks are also skyrocketing — in 2016 the cannabis stock index grew by 236%, according to Viridian Capital Advisors, a financial advisory firm specialising in the marijuana industry. A new report from New Frontier Data reveals that the legal cannabis market will create more than a quarter of a million jobs in the US by 2020.

Forbes also reports that in 2016, the legal cannabis market was worth $7,2 billion, and is projected to grow 17% year-on-year, resulting in a $13,3 billion market in medicinal marijuana and $11,2 billion in adult recreational sales by 2020.

 

BUILDING A BUSINESS

You can offer products to help weed users to grow, carry and use their marijuana within the privacy of their homes. Here are 11 cannabis business opportunities you can take advantage of right now.

 

1.  Develop a portable weed kit

Pot smokers, like any other group of consumers, want convenience and portability. That’s where you come in. You can sell them a portable set that will allow them to smoke up in the comfort of a friend’s home whenever and where ever they choose.

Your kit could include a portable e-nail and vape pen with a temperature control e-rig, devices used to provide a consistent temperature to vaporise concentrates, also known as dabbing. You could also include rolling papers and a small water pipe with an insert to keep everything protected and stable.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

Just like a first-aid kit, you’ll need to determine everything your cannabis customers need while in a private residence. You’ll need to find good suppliers and potential import opportunities for existing products.

You could even offer customisable kits for those who want custom inserts that keep all their pieces together.

 

2.  Cashing in on cannabis accessories

Just like football fans buy T-shirts of their favourite teams, or anime fans buy bags or figurines of their favourite characters, weed users will also start looking for accessories to enjoy their hobby.

Cannabis accessories can include: Water pipes, hand pipes, ashtrays, bongs, vaporisers, grinders, rolling trays, filters, and rolling papers.

There are plenty of examples of online or bricks-and-mortar retailers that sell marijuana-related accessories, such as vaporisers, apparel, glass bongs, water pipes, funnels, beakers, grinders, adapters and much more.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

If you’re a talented glass blower, woodworker or metalsmith you can create custom commissions for cannabis enthusiasts. As owning these accessories continues to de-stigmatise, they can become proud display pieces for some.

You can also put fun, marijuana messages on t-shirts, dog collars and anything you make yourself or buy and rebrand. There are endless opportunities for your weed accessory business.

If you can’t make the products yourself, you can always start an e-commerce business reselling items you find online. By buying them cheap or in bulk and selling to the local market you can create a viable business in no time.

(To find out how to launch your online business, turn to page 58).

 

3.  Sell an indoor incubator

Consumers living in cities who want to grow their own cannabis will need some help, especially since there will be many newcomers entering the industry. This is where you come in. You can develop or import a self-contained growing-chamber that produces high quality buds.

It resembles a mini-fridge and can fit anywhere in a private residence.

LEAF’s ‘plug-n-plant’ system can help any novice cannabis grower. LEAF has smart-phone operated humidity and temperature controls, automatic nutrient dosing and smell-dampening carbon filters.

Cash Crop 5.0—6 Plant LED Hydroponics Grow Box can offer a consumer a larger crop with buds growing two or three-feet tall, with a promise to produce up to 2,5kgs of crop annually.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

You can either become an importer of this product from LEAF directly, or through Amazon, Alibaba, or develop contacts from the original company and buy in bulk. If you’re scientifically minded, you can invent your own version and undercut the current market.

 

4.  Build Apps and platforms for weed users

Any new business will need assistance building technological solutions such as e-commerce apps, websites or even platforms. You can offer solutions for marijuana-adjacent businesses by developing programmes and apps to make their business operations run smoother.

With the impending rise in cannabis-related entrepreneurs and online retailing businesses, there will be a greater need for software developers going forward.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

If you’re looking to put your coding skills to work in the cannabis industry, start now and develop a reputation for good work.  This will enable you to find a steady stream of work when cannabis becomes legal in all forms in the foreseeable future.

 

5.  Offer a safe and convenient storage option

Convenience for users is vital when trying to capture a section of the market. You can offer a product that allows users to smoke and store their weed simultaneously. This will ensure that marijuana is never lost, and everything is kept in the same place.

420 Science invented the innovative Kargo 2, which combines a seven-inch water-pipe with a built-in stash jar to safely store the user’s flowers. It also boasts three different percolators, which offers the user more variety to choose from.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

You’ll need to do research into what South African marijuana users are looking for. Then you’ll need to go about designing and creating your own version, which will offer convenience and variety while being practical and helpful to the user.

Considering that a version of this product already exists in the US, you can always import it in bulk and sell it to the South African market. Just ensure you watch your margins, you don’t want to charge too much; but you also need to make a profit.

 

6.  Bong protector

This product is designed for those smoking in groups within the privacy of their own homes. It utilises medical-grade silicone and adjusts to the size and shape of any pipe’s mouthpiece. This item stretches and clings so that it never blocks airflow from the chamber but keeps germs away when there are multiple users.

Oil Slick in Belgium developed this product to make social gatherings more convenient because users don’t have to use alcohol swabs to sterilise their glass every time the pipe changes hands.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

If you can work and design products from silicon, this could be the business opportunity for you. You can supply consumers with a hygienic and social product that enables them to gather with friends without having to worry about germs and preparation.

If you can’t make this product yourself, you can always import or resell it. If you buy it in bulk and charge a mark-up you can create a viable business selling bong protectors

 

7.  Making and baking cannabis edibles

Although introducing anything other than cannabidiol (CBD) to your edible products is still illegal, you can experiment and grow your business using CBD, so that when weed becomes legal to retail you have an entire menu that has been tested on customers.

Apart from creating edibles you can also offer cannabis cooking classes for those who wish to create their own edibles in the privacy of their own home.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

If you have a flair for baking, you can start making your creations from your kitchen. Experiment and find the best products for your customers by asking what they prefer and getting their feedback.

You can get quite creative; marijuana edibles can range from cakes to sweets and even hot sauce. You’ll need to develop a strategy for how to create, package and sell those edibles.

Also keep in mind that you are creating consumables and will need to stick to health and safety regulations. Research the best amount of CBD to add to your edibles; you will need significantly more compared to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

 

8.  Become a weed artist

The global cannabis industry has supported the rise of many incredible artists. Marijuana has even become a theme for high fashion and mainstream fast fashion with individual pieces costing into the thousands. The art world is currently experiencing a significant resurgence of weed-inspired projects across all disciplines.

Cannabis fashion and art are readily available online from around the world. You can conduct your own research to see what is happening in the global market and determine what the budding South African industry could be looking for.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

If you’re an artist or have a creative side, you could combine your love of art with the theme of cannabis. You could even purchase items from overseas and sell them here at a profit.

 

9. Cannabis cosmetics

Many South Africans have started their own businesses by creating natural beauty products. You could launch a cannabis beauty products business. You would have to start with CBD products, as retailing traditional marijuana is still illegal.

Businesses are selling everything from cannabis creams, face washes, shampoos and candles, all of which can be made at home and sold at dispensaries or farmer’s markets.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

You have a 24-month runway to develop products, find out what users are looking for and start selling, while parliament decides what their next steps are. Be aware there also stringent regulations.

Keep in mind that you will need to abide by health and safety requirements for beauty products, or if you prefer you can just import a ready-made product and sell it in the South African market.

 

10.  Reefer reviewer and blogger

Venturing into the weed world will be a new experience for many South Africans as they feel empowered to smoke, eat or use it in the variety of options available. However, like a novice deciding to wade into the world of wine, they won’t know where to start.

There is a business opportunity in guiding newcomers by offering reviews and advice on your experiences to ensure they have a pleasant first experience. Keep in mind that different strains, how the plant was grown and how many milligrams are mixed into edibles will all impact the effect the user will experience.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

You could potentially build a business around providing reviews and other related information to help consumers make informed decisions. There are also many online resources about how to write these reviews and how you should go about it.

This career choice isn’t just sitting on your couch smoking different strains of weed all day. Not even smoking and growing are enough. You will need to immerse yourself in every aspect of this industry, including a deep knowledge of strains, benefits, gear, genetics, history, geography and terminology. You’ll also need to write about it, so some journalistic experience is a must-have.

 

11.  Launch a marijuana department

As mentioned earlier, Viridian Capital Advisors is an advisory firm specialising in the cannabis industry. Locally, Schindlers Attorneys has a cannabis department, developed to help businesses and customers navigate the grey areas surrounding marijuana.

How you can launch this business opportunity:

If you’re launching or running an advisory firm, you could focus your entire business on the weed industry and following its performance. Another possible business opportunity is developing a cannabis department to assist those expanding into that area.

If you don’t want to dedicate your entire business focus to cannabis or launch a marijuana department, you can always ensure your team has the knowledge to assist a customer wanting to know about the growing South African weed industry. This will help you to expand your customer base and ensure you never turn customers away due to a lack of cannabis knowledge.

 

[Side]

STAY ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE LAW

“The use, possession and cultivation of cannabis outside of a private space, or by, or around, under-age persons, still remains illegal,” says Paul-Michael Keichel, Partner at Schindlers Attorneys. “The caveat to this appears, however, to be that you may carry concealed cannabis in public, if the intention is to only consume it in a private space, away from under-age or non-consenting individuals.”

“What we are seeing is that most of our clients’ focus has been on the cultivation and commercialisation of cannabis itself. What is seemingly being overlooked are the secondary industries that will emerge or benefit from the legalisation of cannabis,” explains Maurice Crespi, Partner at Schindlers Attorneys.

“Take our M&R (medical and recreational) Cannabis Department as an example. Whilst not planned, it has emerged as a key department at Schindlers Attorneys. If cannabis legalisation presents an opportunity for attorneys, it begs the question as to what industry would not be presented with some form of opportunity as a result of its legalisation.

“Transport, courier services, injection moulding, advertising, fashion, accountants, medical, textiles and so on, are now all in a position to exploit the legalisation of cannabis to their benefit. I’m yet to think of an industry that will not be in a position to benefit from the legalisation of cannabis. Even Coca-Cola has found a way,” says Maurice.

GREY AREAS YET TO BE RESOLVED

“The question that has been left open, of course, is how and where does one get the cannabis seeds to grow the plants that one is now permitted to cultivate at home, or in private? Must these be shared, or can they be sourced or sold commercially?” says Paul-Michael.

“Until this answer is clear (we’re researching presently), it’s better to err on the side of caution. However, now that the major part of the fight is lost for them, I would be very surprised if Parliament doesn’t start appreciating the massive potential for increased tax revenue that would flow from a formalised and regulated cannabis industry.

“It serves almost everyone’s interests for them to entertain this option, especially because studies show that full legalisation decreases associated harms more than decriminalisation. Consider quality control, de-stigmatisation, elimination of the black market, beneficiation, and the list goes on,” explains Paul-Michael.

“That stated, SAHPRA (www.sahpra.org.za) is entertaining licence applications by growers and distributors for medicinal use of cannabis. The requirements are very tight but, for those able to comply and get licences, the commercial opportunity is almost unquantifiable,” says Paul-Michael.

 

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