The Cannabis Organisation at the University of Pretoria

COUP, the Cannabis Organisation at the University of Pretoria (UP), is a multidisciplinary initiative driven by a set of UP academics, students and affiliated partners. COUP members have a shared vision in which we recognise the potential that cannabis holds for South Africa economically, socially and legally. COUP’s main aim is to not only generate but to disseminate knowledge about cannabis, its potential impact and existing relations in which it is situated.

 

COUP is actively building an academic discourse with researchers and having a conversation with the public about cannabis’ prohibitive history, subsequent decriminalisation and future legalisation. These discussions will be facilitated on several platforms including webinars, written articles and other avenues of communication.

 

COUP will furthermore support, design and run serious academic research on the environmental, agricultural, economic and the social impact of cannabis and hemp. COUP members, affiliated partners and the public will channel the knowledge generated through debate and discussion into advocating for cannabis. Conducting scientific research on the several aspects of this diverse plant is crucial to developing effective cannabis policies that can benefit South Africa as a whole.

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The Project

The COUP research project is an emerging multidisciplinary research endeavour propelled forward by UP academics, students and affiliated partners. The COUP research project forms the backbone of the discussions and debates that occur pertaining to cannabis on the respective platforms and events hosted throughout the year.

 

The research project, located in the humanities, is an opportunity for research at the intersection of several scientific disciplines and proposes the study of cannabis from multiple perspectives, for example, its legal position, medical potential, socio-economic relations, agricultural and industrial uses, and cultural and historical meaning.

 

The research project is aimed at conducting high-quality research on the various aspects of cannabis which can be used to advance the development of effective and impactful cannabis policies regarding the plant’s production, trade, use and control in South Africa and beyond.

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The Programme

COUP is driving the multidisciplinary initiative on three fronts namely Scholarship, Outreach and Campaigning, to advance the creation, dissemination and application of academic and public knowledge to the cannabis industry and policy development. COUP’s 2021 action plan is designed to practically advance and meet the objectives set out for each prong of COUP’s programme. Firstly, Scholarship entails COUP’s research project aimed at promoting multidisciplinary research on cannabis and to cultivate a research community involving actors and organisations inside and outside UP. Secondly, Outreach entails working in partnership with other actors and organisations who are directly involved with cannabis in several ways, from legal advocacy to the private cannabis industry. Thirdly, Campaigning involves COUP’s role that the organisation will play in legal advocacy and policy development backed by research and in collaboration with various actors and organisations.

Scholarship entails COUP’s research project in which research will be proposed, conducted and published in academic journals and other appropriate platforms. Academic webinars serve as a practical platform for anybody to convene and have meaningful conversations, for those who have an interest in cannabis research, policy development and jet-setting the legal cannabis industry.

This aspect of the programme further aims to build a cannabis research community within UP, that is in collaboration with other tertiary institutions, research institutes and the private sector. Post-graduate students and established academics alike, who share an interest in researching cannabis, are encouraged to reach out to COUP about possible opportunities.

Outreach entails working in partnership with other actors and organisations who are directly involved with cannabis in several ways, from legal advocacy to the private cannabis industry. COUP is in partnership with NGOs such as Fields of Green for All and the Centre for Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria. The Outreach activities that COUP conducts are emergent and growing, as more actors in the cannabis sector starts linking up.

Campaigning involves COUP’s role that the organisation will play in legal advocacy with their affiliated partners. COUP’s Research Project serves as the foundation upon which suggestions would be made for cannabis policies. Conducting academic research is crucial to developing effective and impactful policies that maximises cannabis’ potential, minimises its risks and benefits South Africans.