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Cosatu Backs Commercial Use Legalization, But Says Cannabis Bill ‘Unrealistically Bureaucratic’

Cosatu supports ‘objectives’ of Bill but says more work needs to be done

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has formally commented on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill (PCCB) saying it supports the legalisation of cannabis for private, commercial and medical use. Cosatu is South Africa’s largest trade union federation.

Cosatu’s Mathew Parks made his submission to Parliament on 24 May 2022. He welcomed the new provision for medical and commercial use but said the provisions for religious use were  ‘unrealistically bureaucratic and cumbersome’. He said Cosatu “supported the objectives of the Bill”  but added that more work needed to be done to eliminate the ambiguities in the draft law.

“The provisions on the consumption and sale of cannabis are confusing” he said.

He said there were elements of the bill that were still too restrictive and did not go far enough in decriminalising cannabis use in the country – pointing specifically to the use of cannabis for religious purposes and the additional regulations placed on monitoring people who use cannabis.

Linda Ensor of Business Day reported on 24 May 2022 that the draft Bill, which was originally published for public comment in September 2020, outlines possession rules for cannabis users at home and people who wish to cultivate the plant.

The rest of this article is reproduced from Business Day.

“While the main focus of the bill remains on the private use of cannabis, Parliament has extended the subject of the bill to:

  • Provide for commercial activities in respect of recreational cannabis;
  • Provide for the cultivation, possession and supply of cannabis plants and cannabis by organisations for religious and cultural purposes on behalf of their members; and
  • Respect the right to privacy of an adult person to use cannabis for palliation or medication.

With the national assembly approving these additions on 31 March 2022, the Bill is now being considered in a second round of public participation meetings.

While Cosatu said it broadly supports the objectives of the bill, it noted that more work still 

Decriminalisation

The original draft bill outlines possession rules for cannabis users at home and people who wish to cultivate the plant. It also introduces new offences and provisions for people who previously received a criminal record for cannabis possession.

The bill states that an adult person may for personal use:

  • Possess the prescribed quantity of cannabis plant cultivation material;
  • Cultivate the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a private place;
  • Possess in private the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a public place;
  • Possess the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a private place;
  • Possess in private the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a public place.

The bill defines a ‘private place’ as any place, including a building, house, room, shed, hut, tent, mobile home, caravan, boat or land or any portion thereof, to which the public does not have access as of right.

The draft legislation also states that an adult person may, without the exchange of remuneration provide to, or obtain from, another adult person, for personal use the prescribed quantity of:

  • Cannabis plant cultivation material;
  • Cannabis plants;
  • Cannabis.

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