Brett Hilton Barber
The Bill is already entirely different from its original form
The third period for public comment on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill closed on 13 May 2022 with 2 378 submissions made via the Dear South Africa web-site. State law advisors will sift through the comments but their main concern will be ensuring that the Bill passes constitutional muster.
Lawyer Andrew MacPherson told Cannabiz Africa that the main problem with the draft that has been published so far is that it discriminates against people who do not have access to private property and therefore are not legally entitled to grow cannabis. There are also issues around special dispensations for Rastas and other religious groupings being able to consume cannabis in public and yet not for indigenous communities that have been using cannabis for generations.
The Bill is already entirely different from its original form, which Senior State Law Advisor Sarel Robbertse said was designed specifically to prevent the commercial trade in cannabis. It now has a new section that will enable future legislation to legalize the buying and selling of cannabis products. It also makes allowance for the purchase of prescription cannabis under the Section 21 medical cannabis schemes that are currently being piloted.
Another major issue is that of the THC percentages that define hemp. Currently, the Bill allows for trade of cannabis products with less than 0,2% THC. Almost every industry observer has said this is self-defeating for southern African climatic conditions which create natural THC ‘spikes’ and that a 1% limit would be more appropriate.
Once state lawyers have made their adjustments to the Bill it will come before the National Council of Provinces to be ratified into law.