Government Response to Cannabis Protests: Legalization Hamstrung by Lack of Guiding Laws, but New Inter-Ministerial Committee “Fast Tracking” Interim Measures
DALRRD responded swiftly to the Memo of Demands handed over during the cannabis protests on 17 September 2022. It says the lack of existing legislation governing cannabis is complicating reform, but a new committee has been formed to look at ways of putting interim measures in place that would allow some form of commercial trade.
19 September 2022, 09:00:00
The Presidency has recently appointed inter-Ministerial committee to fast-track cannabis reform but the main challenge is that there is no existing legislation governing this.
That’s the formal response from the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) to the protest memorandums handed over by cannabis demonstrators at the Union Buildings and at Parliament on 17 September 2022.
DALRD says that “all effort will be made to put all operative and legislative processes in place to ensure South Africa, especially the legacy Cannabis farmers, extract full economic benefit from the Cannabis Value Chain”.
In a letter to “stakeholders” entitled “Replies to the Memorandum Deliverd (sic) During the Cannabis Mass Action” DALRRD says “existing legislation still criminalizes the possession of and activities involving Cannabis. Despite judicial decisions around the unconstitutionality of this criminalization of individuals, there is still no legislation which comprehensive legislation (sic) deal with private use or commercialization of Cannabis in the country.
“We are aware that the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services is currently working on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill”.
It says Government aligns itself with the National Cannabis Master Plan and values the contributions made by social partners at Nedlac but that this process had been delayed because of an “urgent need to consider how the legal impediments would be resolved”.
It said that to further fast-track this work, the Presidency, through the Project Management Office, has “started to play a transversal, facilitative role to address the legislative restrictions”
“It is the intention of government to, mindful that the development of legislation is a long process, to develop interim legal measures to unlock certain elements of the Cannabis Value Chain” says the statement.
“Private Sector role players who are supporting this Memorandum, already forms (sic) part of these consultations on the interim legal matters. Whilst this process is unfolding, other departments have already started work towards orientating existing programmes and projects, and developing new interventions to support the development of the Cannabis industry".
It concludes: “we wish to assure all stakeholders that, under the guidance of an inter-Ministerial committee, all effort will be made to put all operative and legislative processes in place to ensure South Africa, especially the legacy Cannabis farmers, extract full economic benefit from the Cannabis Value Chain”.
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