A new organization representing most community and private cannabis stakeholders has been formed to pressure Government to urgently speed up the pace of cannabis reform. The Cannabis Mass Action Committee’s planning protest marches around the country as public dissatisfaction reaches new levels.
The Cannabis Mass Action Committee (CMAC) has called for nationwide protests over Government’s slow implementation of cannabis reform. Gatherings are being planned on the Union Buildings in Pretoria and on Parliament in Cape Town on Saturday, 17 September 2022, the fourth anniversary of the historic Constitutional Court ruling legalizing the private consumption of cannabis.
The hour-long protests outside the Union Buildings and Parliament will begin at 10.00 am and the CMAC has called for demonstrators to behave peacefully.
The recently formed CMAC represents most of the major stakeholders in the cannabis community - Fields of Green for All (FGFA), the Cannabis Trade Association Africa (CTAA), the Black Farmers Association of South Africa (BFASA) Friends of Hemp South Africa (FHSA), Traditional & Natural Health Alliance (NHC), Grow One Africa, the Traditional Healers Organisation (THO) and Cheeba Africa, the South African Agricultural Initiative (SAAI), the Rastafari United Front, Umzimvubu Famers Support Network (UFSN), Afristar Cannabis Lobby Group, Cullinan & Associates Inc, the Marijuana Board of South Africa, the Cannabis Community Council, the Cannabis Development Council North West and Nutt Creative Consultants
It has drawn up a manifesto expressing dissatisfaction with the the approach, structure and pace of Cannabis law reform and legal regulation in South Africa” and calling for the Government to urgently speed up cannabis reform and stop cannabis-related arrests.
“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” reads the Manifesto, which goes on to say:
“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.
The CMAC says the establishment of a legal cannabis framework is “disjointed, unfocused and taking too long” and there are still no solutions to how legacy farmers and traditional healers will fit in. It says the National Cannabis Master Plan – developed without public consultation - has stalled, and that “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.”
The organization says it wants a formal response from Government to its grievances.
“Government does not seem to recognise that the opportunity cost outweighs any purported harms associated with cannabis use” reads the manifeseto, which asks Government 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”.
The CMAC says that South Africa’s potential to be a world player in the cannabis market is being undermined by “the slow progress of creating gap-filling legislation, “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.”
The manifesto says “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”.
The CMAC highlighted two cannabis industry regulatory framework documents, drawn up by experts, that serve as potential models.
Fields of Green For ALL: “Cannabis in South Africa. The People’s Plant. A Full Spectrum Manifesto for Policy Reform”
The Webber Wentzel / Eastern Cape Rural Development Agency - Regulatory Framework for Cannabis
Both can be downloaded here: http://bitly.ws/u2z5