Legal sale remains prohibited
South Africans will be allowed to possess up to 600g of dried cannabis in the privacy of their home and only for personal use however; they may forget to sell their stock legally if the new cannabis bill is passed in its current form.
The Cannabis Regulation Bill, drafted by the Justice Department, will provide guidelines on how much cannabis people can grow and possess, but continues to ban the trade in both medicinal and recreational herbs.
The bill was designed to respond to the judgment of the Constitutional Court of September 2018 which ended the ban on the private cultivation, possession and consumption of cannabis.
The court gave the government two years to revise the legislation and create a framework for legal cultivation and possession of the plant.
A draft bill was sent to the National Director of Public Prosecutions, the Ministry of Health, the Treasury and other relevant ministries in October for opinion, with a deadline set at January 31.
It will go to Cabinet for approval before being tabled in Parliament and released to the public, before the court-imposed September deadline.
With the legalization of cannabis worldwide, cannabis activists hoped that the bill would provide for small and large-scale commercial cultivation and sale.
According to rapport on cannabis in Africa, released last year, the cannabis industry in South Africa could be worth over 107 billion rand once it is fully legalized.
The provincial governments of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape want to move forward with commercial cannabis production and tourism, but are unable to do so until the central government creates a legal framework.
The bill continues to criminalize the purchase or sale of cannabis, with prison sentences of up to 10 years remaining in place for trafficking in large amounts of weed.
Possession of more than the individual amount, but less than the trafficked amount, is punishable by a prison sentence of two to six years.
The bill allows possession of a maximum of 600g of dried cannabis per person, or a maximum of 1200g per household where two or more adults live. One gram of grass is enough for about three joints.
Public possession is set at a maximum of 60 g of dried cannabis, but consumption in public remains illegal.
In a letter accompanying the draft, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola said the regulatory model - as outlined in the bill - and a business model were both being considered.
The regulatory model would allow the cultivation and possession of cannabis by individuals for their private and personal use, by determining the amount that can be cultivated, owned and used.
Mr Lamola said that although the bill addresses the issues raised by the Constitutional Court, political decisions have yet to be made regarding how much can be cultivated or possessed for personal use, the appropriate model which should be put in implementation and effect of the proposed law or other cannabis regulatory models on South Africa's international legal obligations.
Paul-Michael Keichel, of the Schindlers law firm, which specializes in the law of medical and recreational cannabis, said the bill was “fully in line” with the Constitutional Court ruling.
“It is only for personal use or culture. He is not considering the commercialization of cannabis, ”he said. “This is a political decision that has yet to be made as to whether or not to commercialize. The judgment does not require that ”.
Lamola spokesman Crispin Phiri said a bill that “gives effect” to the judgment has been drafted and is under internal consultation.
The bill, he said, does not deal with the marketing of cannabis or the licensing, which is the responsibility of the relevant departments, including trade and industry, health and social development. .
Phiri said the bill would be revised before it was sent to the public for comment and that its content would be released once it was approved by Cabinet.
A consultation memorandum circulated with the bill indicates that implementing a model of cultivation and retailing of cannabis for commercial purposes would not constitute a violation of the international drug control regime.
A legal regime would ensure quality cannabis, as well as better education about its effects, and taxes could be levied to provide better health care for problem consumers, he said. declared.