It’s legal to grow cannabis for personal use in South Africa, but not for commercial use. Therefore, the beer is being made with imported strains, mostly from Germany and Eastern Europe.

Funded by investors including RCL Foods Chief Executive Officer Miles Dally, Spar Group CEO Graham O’Connor and Grindrod Bank Poison City Brewing founders Andre Schubert and Graeme Bird realised with non-smoking uses of marijuana rising globally, they could be first to market in South Africa.

“We released this beer to be on the forefront of this market in South Africa, but also to appeal to the more mainstream drinker and give a beer he or she can relate to,” Schubert, a 56-year-old restaurateur said by phone. Brewers globally are “well aware that down the line, they will want to compete directly still with the cannabis industry because smoking is only a part of it.”

The Durban Poison lager and Poison Cannabis IPA contain hemp – a variety of the cannabis sativa plant largely devoid of mind-altering ingredients – and they are are being sold in liquor chains nationwide. They have seen huge interest for the beers from the US, with Bird landing in Miami on Tuesday to attend a trade fair. The launch of the beers was earlier reported by Johannesburg-based Business Day newspaper.

The Durban Poison variety of marijuana, which originates from the sub-tropical Indian ocean city of Durban, has a sweet smell and is known for its “energetic, uplifting” effects when smoked, according to, which bills itself as a cannabis information resource.