Cannabis is a "magical crop" with the potential to create jobs and curb youth unemployment in Southern Africa.
So says Wits professor and economist Imhotep Paul Alagidede, who has closely studied the history and economic potential of the plant.
Alagidede says the business potential of cannabis is mind-blowing.
He believes that more research and investment is needed to grow the hemp and dagga sector on the continent.
Alagidede says cannabis is a multidimensional plant that has helped sustain life throughout history.
The plant has been used as food and as medicine as well as for ceremonial and industrial purposes.
More work is needed to bridge the knowledge gap on its infinite properties and uses, he explains.
When we go back to indigenous cultures, we will realise that one of the first plants that ever made acquaintance with human beings on this planet is cannabis.— Imhotep Paul Alagidede, Professor of finance and academic director at the Wits Business School
The whole spectrum of the importance and the uses of this plant was obvious to our ancestors as food and as medicine.— Imhotep Paul Alagidede, Professor of finance and academic director at the Wits Business School
Indigenous societies had different uses for the plant.— Imhotep Paul Alagidede, Professor of finance and academic director at the Wits Business School
According to Alagidede, the tobacco industry, cotton lobbyists and big pharmaceuticals played a huge role in the war on cannabis following the Great Depression in America.
By the 1970s, cannabis was declared a Schedule 1 drug, deemed to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse.
Right up until the 1930s, this was a plant that was literally available everywhere on the plant— Imhotep Paul Alagidede, Professor of Finance and Academic Director at the Wits Business School
The professor maintains that the repression of the burgeoning cannabis industry will work against economic development.
Listen to the enlightening conversation on The Azania Mosaka Show: