The Cannabis Trade Association Africa (CTAA) has launched a legal application challenging the scheduling restrictions on cannabis products.
This was confirmed on 21 September 2021 by the CTAA’s lawyer Paul-Michael Keichel on a webinar organized by the CTAA to bring stakeholders together to discuss the “legislative crisis” in South African cannabis. The webinar hosted by Cheeba Cannabis Craft TV ‘s Trenton Birch, was carried live on DSTV Channel 263.
‘Develop regulations on evidence-based rationality’
Keichel said a key part of the application was to introduce evidence-based rationality into the way cannabis products were regulated in South Africa. “We are trying to inject a little international scientific thinking into the minds of the regulators”.
He said the respondents were the Department of Health (DoH) and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA), but only the Health had confirmed receipt of the legal challenge.
The CTAA says there’s a crisis in the cannabis industry because proposed cannabis laws are out of line with the constitution and the National Cannabis Master Plan and South Africa is turning a potential massive opportunity into an unmitigated disaster.
‘We want a regulator who helps us’
CTAA chairman Tebogo Tlopane said cannabis offered obvious economic benefits such a job creation, and legalization would be a boon for small and medium enterprises. He appealed for “a regulator who helps us”, not one that was “over-zealous” and made it difficult for small business to thrive and create jobs.
He said government departments were at odds with each other and that cannabis stakeholders therefore had to try and speak with one voice.
“Let’s put our differences aside and together lobby government to get the right policies in place to unlock the potential of cannabis” he said.
CTAA co-founder Anthony Cohen said: “We definitely have a crisis. The reason is that we have legislation that is creating a still-born industry. “I’m a licensed full spectrum CBD manufacturer and am not allowed to get anyone local to supply me”.
“We need to make regulators see our point of view. Big capital has the ear of the industry and we need to open up the space to all South Africans. Our message to government is this: the industry is quite capable of looking after itself; please just get out of our way. It’s a fact that cannabis is not harmful; please just get out of our way”.
Keichel, a Schindlers’ attorney who’s part of the Cannabiz Africa Legal Desk summed it up:
“In the next six months Government must grab the bull by both horns and take on the real issue. It must take cannabis out of the criminal justice system. It must talk with one voice otherwise we will continue with this legislative madness.”
‘We want a regulator who puts people before profit’
At the centre of the challenge is the way cannabis is scheduled under the Medicines Act – as Dr Shiksha Gallow of Biodata told panelists: “there’s not been a single recorded death from cannabis, why is it in the same schedule as opioids? Cannabis is one of the safest medicines in the world and it’s sitting in the wrong schedule!”
Activist Gareth Prince of the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa (CDCSA) said it shouldn’t be a case of rescheduling, but of “descheduling”.
“Deschedule cannabis out of the Medicines and Drugs Act and let Agriculture and the Department of Trade and Industry” take it over” he said.
“Big business has demonstrated they put profits before people. We want a regulator that puts people before profit”.
Andre du Plessis of the Cannabis Action Group (CAG) posted on the webinar forum: “Cannabis has no legal dosage and therefore should not be on any schedule!”