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COUP is a growing community of different people in collaboration with each other to advance the creation and dissemination of knowledge regarding cannabis. COUP members have diverse professional experiences and interests, but all share an interest in cannabis. Particularly in researching the potential uses, risks and existing relations of cannabis, as well as advocating and developing policies for cannabis.

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Motshedisi (Tshidi) Mathibe

Motshedisi (Tshidi) Mathibe is a lecturer at University of Pretoria’s Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS). She teaches on the Post Diploma in Business Management in the area of Entrepreneurship. She Also teaches Entrepreneurship and Strategic Marketing on the Corporate programme and Enterprise Development Academy space. Her research interests are in the field of Social Entrepreneurship, Women Entrepreneurship, Informal Sector Economy, Base of the Pyramid Markets, and Strategic Marketing. In addition, to teaching and research responsibilities, Tshidi is involved in The United Nation’s Global Impact Young SDG Innovators Programme. As part of the programme Mentors, Tshidi supports the team of young innovators in their efforts to frame a challenge, applying sustainable business and innovation concepts to create prototypes and tangible business solutions with real market potential. She plays a vital role from ideation to development to a presentation of these young minds’ solutions to the company’s senior management.

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Peter Vale

Peter Vale is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for the Advancement of Scholarship at the University of Pretoria, and a founding Director of the Johannesburg Institute for Advanced Study (JIAS). He is the Nelson Mandela Professor of Politics Emeritus at Rhodes University, and a founding member and Honorary Professor in the Africa Earth Observatory Network (AEON). He is a senior Fellow at the Public Affairs Research Institute (PARI), a Fellow of the Royal Society of South Africa (FRSSAf), the World Academy for Arts and Science (FWAAS) and the African Academy of Science (FAAS). Additionally, he is an elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (MASSAf), the recipient of the International Medal of the University of Utrecht, as well as the Rhodes University’s Distinguished Senior Research Award. Recently he co-authored a book with Vineet Thakur, titled ‘South Africa, race and the making of international relations’ (2020) which won the Francesco Guicciardini Prize for Best Book in Historical International Relations.

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Marc Wegerif

Marc Wegerif is a senior lecturer and Coordinator of the Development Studies programme at University of Pretoria. He has over 30 years of experience, before joining academia, working with a range of organisations on human rights issues, particularly involving food systems, economic justice, and land and agrarian reform. This included being the Land Policy Lead for Oxfam International, which involved being responsible for global advocacy and coordination of the organisation’s land related policy and advocacy work. Marc obtained his PhD in Rural Sociology from Wageningen University. The focus of the research was on the food system that feeds the large and fast-growing city of Dar es Salaam. His Masters was on land and agrarian reform and was obtained from the University of the Western Cape. Marc has a keen interest in cannabis as a multi-use crop that could make an enormous development contribution in South Africa if managed well..

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Tracy Muwanga

Tracy Muwanga is a trans-disciplinary post-doctoral research fellow, for the Faculty of Law as well as the Natural and Agricultural sciences at the University of Pretoria. She finished her LLD degree in Public Law, from the Department of Public Law at the University of Pretoria in 2018, with the research focus for her thesis on medical and human rights law. Currently, Dr Muwanga is working on research relating to the right to food, food systems and food insecurity, which has sparked her interest in the Cannabis field from an agricultural and legal perspective. She is currently undergoing a legal comparative study regarding the legalisation of cannabis. She is interested in the intersection between legislation, policy and cannabis and hemp as an agricultural crop.

Rosehip botanical drawing

Vanessa Steenkamp

Prof Vanessa Steenkamp is currently Deputy Dean: Teaching & Learning in the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria. Prior to her appointment as Dean she was the Head of Department of Pharmacology at the same institution. Her research interest focuses on traditional herbal remedies and the development of drugs from the said medications, which includes drug safety testing. Her research interests also include drugs of abuse and forensic toxicology. She is the author of 180 scientific papers and 6 book chapters and is frequently invited to speak at conferences, having presented on 328 occasions. Professional registrations include; Health Professions Council of South Africa as a Biological Scientist and dual registration as a Natural Scientist and Toxicologist with The South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions. She is an active member of scientific organizations And holds several executive roles on committee boards.

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Maryke Steynvaart

Maryke Steynvaart is a Masters student studying Socio-Cultural Anthropology at UP, and she is pursuing a career in social research and policy development. For her Honours degree she conducted qualitative research on the dynamics of emergent Cannabis Social Clubs in South Africa. She is furthering her studies on the socio-economic relations of cannabis and the various cannabis distribution models that have existed, still exists and are continously emerging. As a journalist she has written about cannabis research at UP and covered cannabis webinars for PDBY (formerly ‘Die Perdeby’ UP’s independent student newspaper) amongst several other topics. She has also co-authored an article published in the Daily Maverick titled ‘Proposed cannabis law has serious shortcomings and must go back to the drawing board.’ Generally she has an interest in medical, environmental and economic Anthropology, but specifically the use of plant medicines and the burgeoning ‘psychedelic revolution’.

Tea tree botanical drawing

Andrea Hayes

Andrea Hayes is an award-winning video game developer and game studies academic. She recently finished her Masters Degree in Developments studies at Wits University, which focused on queer and gender studies in various video game spaces. Andrea is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Pretoria in Development Studies which falls under the Department of Anthropology & Archaeology. Her PhD work explores the various intersections between video games and climate change, which aims to find ways in which acts of play can create awareness around the human impact on the environment. Andrea has a passion for creative coding, experimenting with digital art and developing video games. She is a freelance website and video game developer, who is passionate about diversifying the tech industry and empowering women in development. Andrea is interested in growing the knowledge around cannabis production and technology within South Africa. She is the website developer for COUP (The Cannabis Organisation, University of Pretoria).

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Tshiamo Moumakwe

Tshiamo Moumakwe is a final year student in Financial Sciences at the University of Pretoria and who is also a Marketing Intern at TuksNovation, University of Pretoria's business incubator and has been actively involved in their Marketing relations. She recently discovered her passion in assisting small businesses market their businesses and to assist them in refining their ideal customer. In her spare time she is a blossoming creative who enjoys exploring her creativity through directing her own conceptual photography initiatives on her personal Instagram account @tshiamo_wanders. She is passionate about natural forms of healing, plant medicines and the unlimited potential cannabis holds as a medicine to its potential industrial potential. She is determined to aid in raising the awareness of the potential that cannabis holds for South Africa as a country.

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Fraser McNeill

Fraser McNeill is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Pretoria.  He is an NRF rated researcher and received a PhD in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics in 2007, and has published widely on traditional leadership, health, illness, music, ritual and various other aspects relating to the previous homeland of Venda.  His interest in Cannabis research is ethnographic, and he is primarily interested in the connection between gendered social relations of Rastafarian organizations and the distinction between male and female cannabis plants.  You can see a panel discussion he participated in for the ASSAF here

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Gillian Kerchhoff

Gillian Kerchhoff has a Masters degree in Library And Information Studies (Research Librarianship and Digital Curation) from the University of Cape Town in 2017. She has worked for more than 20 years as a librarian in a number of academic and research libraries as well as in NGOs, including a recent position as librarian at the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies focusing on information and research curation. Since 2017 she has been lecturing and supervising students part-time in the Department of Library and Information Science at the University of the Western Cape.

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