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Cannabiz Africa/Luke Fraser, BusinessTech

24/05/09, 06:00

The Cannabis Bill is one of 27 pieces of legislation sitting in President Cyril Ramaphosa’s in-tray at the Union Buildings. He has less than a month to sign them into law before he makes way for the post-election administration.

The clock is ticking for the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill to be passed into law by the President. 


It was rushed through the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces in order for the President to turn it into an act before the current administration.  If he fails to do so, it. may well be back to the drawing board as there will be a new Parliamentary Justice and Portfolio Committee constituted after the elections which may have a different view of how cannabis legislation should proceed.


In other words the cannabis industry may face many more months of operating in the "grey zone' between the unregulated and regulated. markets.


However, Cannabiz Africa understands that Pres Ramaphosa is regarding the 27 bills as urgent unfinished business, although it's unclear whether all of them will make int law. Among them is the controversial National Health Insurance Bll, which has been widely criticized by business and opposition parties.


The cannabis comunity is divided in its support for the new Cannabis law. All stakeholders have pointed out the contradictions and imperfections of the Bill as it stands. 


There are still calls for the Bill to be scrapped in its entirety, although prominent voices, such as Fields of Green for All, have accepted that the Bill will become law. FGFA co-founder Myrtle Green says a new cannabis act will be open to legal challenge and that the struggle to produce an all-inclusive, overarchng law that legalizes cannabis and the commercial trade of the plant, will continue.


The report below from BusinessTech on the pile of paperwork on the President's desk.


The President has 27 Bills on his desk, which have already been signed off by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.


In April 2024, the President assented to four new laws for South Africa—the National Veld and Forest Fire Amendment Bill, the Agricultural Product Standards Amendment Bill, the Correctional Services Amendment Act and the Judicial Matters Amendment Act—but since the number of Bills waiting on his signature increased.


The President only has a few weeks left to sign the Bills before Parliament’s term expires at midnight on 21 May 2024 ahead of the 29 May 2024 National and Provincial Election.


Several pieces of legislation on the President’s desk have already received widespread condemnation from the public—such as the National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill.


The NHI Bill aims to establish a fund whereby the government will buy healthcare services for South African citizens, but there are still serious questions over the government’s financial situation to create such a fund.


Investec Healthcare Equity Analyst Letlotlo Lenake said that the NHI would come out in the double digits of GDP, which is a significant amount to spend on healthcare in an emerging economy.


He said that having 5 million taxpayers finance the healthcare needs of 60 million does not make sense, with South Africa simply not being able to afford the NHI.


Other Bills on the President’s desk relate to divorces, cannabis use, climate change, hate speech and more.

That said, the President does not have to sign the Bills into law if he or his team identify any issues.


For instance, in 1999, President Nelson Mandela sent the Liquor Bill, passed by Parliament a year prior, to the Constitutional Court to decide on its constitutionality. The nation’s highest court then ruled that the Bill was unconstitutional.


Ramaphosa could follow this approach or send a Bill directly back to parliament due to concerns over its constitutionality, which he did in 2021 for the National Land Transport Amendment Bill, which is now back on his desk.

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