The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has opened the proposed amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill for public comments – again. This comes after the National Assembly extended the deadline to finalize the Bill in February 2023.
The National Assembly has called on interested stakeholders to write submissions on the proposed amendments to the Bill by no later than Friday, 28 April 2023.
The Bill’s scope has been broadened, with one of the main changes is that communal land is now defined as a “private place” in the Bill in an attempt to include legacy growers. The Bill also signals the removal of cannabis from the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, although it continues to criminalize several aspects of the plant. It also makes provision for medical cannabis patients.
After major consultation and a slow legislative process surrounding the Bill, the National Assembly decided in February 2023 to give the Committee more time to resolve the contradictions contained in the last draft of the Bill.
The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill forms part of 51 bills currently making their way to parliament prior to being assented into law by the President, according to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG).
The PMG says updates to the bill relating to cannabis stemmed from a high court ruling in 2017 which found several sections of the Drugs Act and Drug Trafficking Act unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court agreed with this in its own ruling in 2018.
The new Bill aims to address loopholes and grey areas within the current legislative framework surrounding cannabis.
Current laws allow for cannabis use and cultivation in private spaces, but the definition of a “private space” is unclear. This has led to confusion regarding whether spaces like homes and cars qualify as private and therefore allow for cannabis use and cultivation.
The Bill itself states that it aims to allow for the cultivation of a prescribed quantity of cannabis plants, possess a prescribed quantity of cannabis and the consumption of cannabis.
It further seeks to provide for the expungement of criminal records of persons convicted of possession or use of cannabis or dealing in cannabis on the basis of a presumption, allow for commercial activities in respect of cannabis and provide for the deletion and amendment of certain provisions within current legislation.
Certain uncertainties within South Africa’s cannabis legislation open consumers and business people to falling on the wrong side of the law.
The PMG says the Cannabis Bill has the potential to open up the industry and bring it into the mainstream allowing more people to use cannabis as well as business to take advantage of the growing popularity in cannabis products.
The PMG noted that submissions can be emailed to Mr V Ramaano at email@example.com.