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Govt Avoids CMAC Demand for a Halt to Cannabis Arrests; Says Next Step in Cannabis Reform is to Help Legacy Growers

Govt Avoids CMAC Demand for a Halt to Cannabis Arrests; Says Next Step in Cannabis Reform is to Help Legacy Growers

The President’s new inter-ministerial cannabis committee is to look at “interim measures” to help traditional cannabis growers as Government recognizes the legitimacy of the Cannabis Mass Action Committee demands. But silence remains over calls for a halt to cannabis arrests

Cannabiz Africa

20 September 2022, 10:00:00

Government is putting together an interim set of legal measures that will accommodate traditional cannabis farmers while more comprehensive legislation is put in place.


That’s the commitment from Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza in response to demands put forward by the Cannabis Mass Action Committee during last weekend’s protests at the Union Buildings and Parliament at the slow pace of cannabis reform.


In a statement issued by DALRRD on 17 September 2022, Didiza said her department was committed to the National Cannabis Master Plan, but was hamstrung by current legislation. She said that the Presidency had formed an inter-Ministerial committee to put in place “interim measures” that would assist small-scale cannabis farmers, while more comprehensive legislation was put in place.


Fields of Green for All spokesperson Charl Henning told Cannabiz Africa on 20 September 2022 that the acknowledgement by DALRDD that it needed to look after traditional growers was “significant”.  Cape Town protestors were met by representatives from the Presidency, the Justice Department and Agriculture during Saturday’s gathering at Parliament.


‘Cape Town was not as well supported in numbers….there were about 150 people which is less than half the usual.  However the handover was the most important element this time, and not the numbers display”.


In both Cape Town and Pretoria, calls were made for a moratorium on cannabis arrests.


"Stop arresting us, we are not criminals," said FGRA’s Myrtle Clarke at the Union Buildings, as the President's representative, flanked by police, received the CMAC memo.


"How can you arrest people for selling ganja but companies like Clicks and Dischem are selling cannabis products in their stores?" asked Thapelo Khunou, one of the protest leaders.


CMAC spokesperson Linda Siboto of Cheeba Africa told GroundUp that Government needed to intervene to protect the thousands of legacy cannabis growers who risked being marginalized in cannabis reform.


“Rural farmers have not been included in any of the master plans that have come from government ... The only reason we have cannabis that is internationally renowned is due to those people in Lusikisiki and Mpondoland," said Siboto.


"You have big pharmaceutical companies coming in and having commercial farms set up which cost millions of rands, which ordinary growers can't compete with. So this industry is in danger of becoming like the tobacco industry. In places like America the tobacco and alcohol industries have been making big investments in cannabis ... We really need the Government to step in",

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