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Govt & NCMP: All Dressed Up But Going Nowhere Fast Right Now

The National Cannabis Master Plan (NCMP) is a courageous document for any government to conceptualize and all credit must be given to the ANC-led administration for – at least in part – understanding the global cannabis revolution that’s underway and strategizing how that can be used to uplift South Africans.


The problem has always been cannabis and the law

The main problem is how emmeshed cannabis and the law are at every level from the profundity of international narcotics conventions to the blandness of municipal occupational health and safety acts.  To effect any form of cannabis reform at least 22 South African government departments are going to be affected and parliamentary legislators will have their work cut out for them for the year ahead.

The NCMP has been handed over to the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development to co-ordinate, as was announced at a virtual workshop for stakeholders on 30 March 2021. 


OMG there are going to be a lot of committees

DARDD lost no time in setting out the structures of how it sees the NCMP being implemented. There will be an executive oversight committee backed by a secretariat. The question of who SA’s ‘cannabis commander in chief is yet to be deteri and then 18 committees (Editor’s note: sounds dangerous already) to implement the plan at:

  • Geographical level (a committee per each of the nine provinces)
  • Supply chain level (a committee for each of the 9 NCMP value-add pillars)


Still no agreement on what the NCMP actually is!

That’s all well and good, but at the moment there is no comprehensive agreement on what the NCMP should ultimately evolve into.  The most serious issue is the lack of conceptual thinking around a local ‘adult-use’ market ( and how to integrate the 10 000 plus existing rural dagga growers into a framework that doesn’t eternally brand them as criminals.

That’s what police minister Bheke Cele still seems hell bent on, even though the SAPS says the main outcome it wants from the NCMP is clarity on what is illegal and legal cannabis and what its powers of search and seizure are.

Ultimately, the Department of Justice needs to take the lead right now in terms of Pillar 1 of the NCMP: the establishment of effective regulatory systems. This is what it has committed to in writing in the latest draft of the NCMP.

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