The call comes as the NCMP is being considered by the country’s major economic stakeholders at Nedlac and several legal battles are being played out as a consequence of policy confusion. Cannabis reform in South Africa requires policy to be co-ordinated between the following key government departments:
- Trade and Industry
The fault-lines between government departments has been exposed by the following recent developments:
- The Justice System is maintaining its onslaught against cannabis producers and consumers despite impending legalization;
- The NCMP has been slotted into the Agriculture Department which has already hit its limitations in driving the process forward because key legalization decisions reside with other departments;
- Agriculture is now responsible for issuing hemp licenses, a function that was quietly removed from the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA);
- SAHPRA has now become embroiled in a political war around the granting of cannabis licenses;
- Several court cases against government departments are in play because of policy confusion and bureaucratic inertia;
- None of government’s bold statements of 2020 to incorporate cannabis into mainstream economic activity have seen the light of day;
It has become clear that governments across Africa do not understand the holistic benefit of the plant and that fractious policies are unfolding that may backfire on the continent’s ambitions to cash in on cannabis. The most basic contradiction is that Africa is the world’s primary producer of recreational cannabis and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future but this reality is ignored by policy makers. The consequence is that fractious cannabis frameworks are being put into law that will continue to criminalize cannabis producers and users while setting up alternative systems that favour multinationals.
Currently the NCMP is under the control of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) which made its presentation to Nedlac in May 2021. However, this week a DALRDD source said there had been no feedback to the department since the NCMP went to Nedlac and had no idea how policy would be co-ordinated in the months ahead. Nedlac has confirmed the NCMP has been formally tabled but has given no further details as to what outcomes should be expected by when.
CTAA’s demands are backed by the recommendation by the United Nations in decriminalizing cannabis in December 2021 that policy reform efforts should be centred in the presidencies of countries to ensure comprehensive regulatory frameworks.