Cannabis Mass Action Committee
To: South African Government
Minister of Justice
Minister of Agriculture
Minister of Trade and Industry
Minister of Police
Minister of Health
From: Cannabis Mass Action Committee
Re: The slow pace of Cannabis legalisation
Dear President Ramaphosa and Government of the RSA,
This memorandum serves to express our dissatisfaction with the approach, structure and pace of Cannabis law reform and legal regulation in South Africa. Our key grievances and demands are as follows:
Cannabis legalisation & legal regulation - necessary to unlock the industry and change lives - is disjointed, unfocused, and taking too long.
There are still no solutions - proposed or implemented - for rural legacy farmers. The President’s stated intention for an inclusive Cannabis industry is not supported by the actions of the government and the proposed legislation has resulted in a policy vacuum.
We urgently need this industry to come online for job creation and to bolster our economy - the government does not seem to recognise that the opportunity cost outweighs any purported harms associated with Cannabis use.
The Masterplan process that was developed without public consultation - but did serve to create some structure - has stalled.
To allow for a reasonable trade in Cannabis as a constitutional right for people who do not have access to private space - or the required capability - to cultivate Cannabis.
To stop arresting people for low/no-harm (‘victimless’) crimes.
South Africa already has a global reputation for Cannabis - with considerable competitive advantage of sun, soil, established naturalised genetics and legacy farmers - representing the potential to become a lead player in the international market place. However, the slow progress of creating gap-filling legislation is eroding this opportunity as the global market and other African countries begin to open up their Cannabis industries ahead of South Africa, positioning themselves ahead of us and begging the question whether we will, if this is left too long, ever be able to catch up.
There are still no solutions for rural legacy Cannabis farmers who still remain criminals in the eyes of the law - while those with capital are purportedly allowed to grow Cannabis legally under licence.
We are all acutely aware of the current economic challenges in South Africa, especially post Covid, and the Cannabis industry is an opportunity to provide much needed income and opportunity to South African society, placing a high value crop in the hands of the rural poor to regenerate and reindustrialize our rural economy. The benefits of Cannabis and industrial hemp are now supported by credible evidence across the globe and there is simply no worthy justification as to why the legislative process is taking so long.
We call upon the South African government to move rapidly to remove the barriers from the industry coming online, create robust communication channels between departments so that government departments are aligned in thought and not fragmented, and for decisive action to be taken to bring this industry online with an agreed strategy and committed (now indisputably urgent) timeline.
There is an urgent need for a moratorium on Cannabis arrests, to free up police and criminal justice resources and open a discourse on reparations for those that have suffered as a result of apartheid laws (that continue to be enforced in the new democratic dispensation) which unjustifiably infringe on numerous constitutional rights - this being especially contentious when one considers the endpoint that government has us believing is on the cards.
A moratorium on arrests is but one of many viable interim measures that we respectfully submit must be implemented between now and promulgating overarching Cannabis legislation, such that industry, civil society and government are able to innovate together, without fear of technical non-compliance with some or other legislative prohibition. We proceed on the assumption that no harm equals no foul, mindful that the Constitutional onus rests with the State to prove us wrong - if it says that we are wrong.
We would also like to highlight two Cannabis industry regulatory framework documents that have been diligently created by industry experts and serve as potential frameworks for our unique country:
Fields of Green For ALL: “Cannabis in South Africa. The People’s Plant. A Full Spectrum Manifesto for Policy Reform”
Webber Wentzel / Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency - Regulatory Framework for Cannabis Both can be downloaded here: http://bitly.ws/u2z5 We look forward to a formal response to our grievances.
Cannabis Mass Action Committee
Fields of Green for ALL
Cannabis Trade Association Africa
BFASA (Black Farmers Association of South Africa)
Friends of Hemp South Africa
Traditional & Natural Health Alliance
Grow One Africa
Traditional Healers Organisation
Rastafari United Front
Umzimvubu Famers Support Network
Afristar Cannabis Lobby Group
Cullinan & Associates Inc.
Marijuana Board of South Africa
Cannabis Community Council
Cannabis Development Council
North West Nutt Creative Consultants
We welcome all organisations to mobilise, join and support.
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