The Department of Health has blundered back into the cannabis reform debate with a presentation to stakeholders that has raised more questions than answers.
Nutrition: Health Department’s wild claim flies in the face of facts
In a slide show on proposed amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill at a webinar on 25 August 2021, Deputy Director General of Health (Health Regulation and Compliance), Dr Anban Pillay, dropped the following two bombshells:
- The Department seeks to change the legal definition of cannabis to exclude the plant’s stalk, but includes any part of the plant that has THC; it also says cannabis seeds and seedlings should not be classified as cannabis, but flowers and ‘fruiting tops’ should be classified as cannabis;
- It says cannabis cannot be classified as a foodstuff because ‘it has no nutritional value’
Eish! Department of Health now on a collision course with Agriculture!
The proposed amendments are likely to add more confusion to the cannabis reform debate as they fly in the face of the hard facts. They also put Health on a collision course with the Department of Agriculture (DALRRD) which has highlighted the importance of hemp as a source of food.
Read the Cannabiz Africa Legal Desk Outake on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill here
Dr Pillay said the amendments were motivated by the need to protect children and the socially vulnerable. He said the department supported the legalization of cannabis but was concerned that this would lead to an increase in usage by adolescents.
The Department of Health says it expects an increase in cannabis abuse when the bill becomes public and says it will need more money to cope with this. There is no cannabis documentation on its official website. In fact, a search for the word ‘cannabis’ yields no results at all.
The proposed amendments still have to pass the scrutiny of parliament which is expected to discuss the bill this year. It is clear that they do not answer the concerns of a wide array of critics!