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The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has again opened the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill for public comment.
The Comittee’s Chairperson, Bulelani Magwanishe, said the amendments relate specifically to children (under 18 years of age).
The Committee is looking for alternative solutions in addressing the matters of the prohibited use (possession and cultivation of, or dealing of) cannabis by children, with the best interest of the child kept in mind.
The Committee has suggested amendments to the Children’s Act of 2005, the Prevention of and Treatment from Substance Abuse Act of 2008, or other relevant legislation outside the criminal justice system.
This marks yet another public consultation process for the Bill, which has been before the National Assembly since September 2020.
Following widespread consultations and a slow legislative process, the National Assembly granted the portfolio an extension of inquiries into the Bill in February this year.
Amendments to the Bill are due to a High Court Ruling in 2017, which ruled that several sections of the Drugs Act and Drug Trafficking Act are unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court then agreed with this ruling in 2018.
Ultimately, the Bill seeks to allow for the cultivation of a stipulated quantity of cannabis plants, possession of a prescribed amount of cannabis and the use of cannabis.
It also aims to expunge the criminal records of those convicted of possessing or using cannabis or dealing in cannabis based on a presumption and permit for commercial activities involving cannabis.
Studies have shown that South Africa can benefit from the cultivation and export of cannabis, with the medicinal applications alone having the ability to contribute R100 billion a year to the economy, creating over 100,000 jobs in the process.
However, despite promises by President Cyril Ramaphosa at both the 2022 and 2023 State of the Nation Addresses to create a fully-fledged cannabis industry, little progress has been made amid confusing laws and sluggish moves to build the industry.
According to Operation Vulindlela’s review for the second quarter of the year, which looks at the President’s promised reforms, the cannabis industry has hit the “orange” zone – where reforms still face significant headwinds.
Operation Vulindlela thus said not to expect anything regarding commercializing the sector until 2024.
In the meantime, those who wish to submit comments on Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org by Friday, 13 October.
The Bill can be found below (mobile users can click on this hyperlink):