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South Africa: Legal weed coming in 2021, but what’s the real deal?

Recreational use of weed will be legal in South Africa in 2021. Question is: what are the guidelines and are they realistic?

The Private Purposes Bill (B19-2020) will come up before the Justice and Correctional Services Parliamentary Portfolio Committee early in the new year and lawmakers are keen to get it out before the anniversary of the Constitutional Court deadline in September.


Bill says no commerce related to THC products

Committee secretary Vhonani Ramaano told Cannabiz Africa the first order of business will be to consider all the public submissions received before the 30 November 2020 cut-off date before it heads for a vote in the National Assembly (NA). 


South Africa Legal Weed

South African Parliament likely to legalize recreational weed in 2021


Thereafter it still has to go through the Select Committee for the National Council of Provinces before being put to the NCOP itself. Thereafter it goes for “Assent”, in other words to be signed into law by the President. The bill is not likely to be delayed on political grounds as both the majority ANC and the DA support cannabis reform.

The Bill will effectively allow adults to smoke and cultivate cannabis privately and decriminalizes possession. However, it stops short of outright legalization by prohibiting the sale of THC products.


See Private Purposes Bill here.


Certain aspects of the proposed law have been severely criticized for being contradictory and nonsensical. However, it has been broadly welcomed for its progressive approach to cannabis, including the expunging of criminal records for cannabis-only crimes. 


See Andrew Lawrie’s 5 take out points on the Private Purposes Bill


ANC and DA broadly in agreement on cannabis reform

The process ahead means there are two pressure points where the bill can still be amended before it goes to law – at the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee stage ahead of the NA debate, and then again at the Select Committee meeting ahead of the NCOP vote.


South Africa Legal Weed

Committee Chair Mangwanishe: Sensitive to ANC objections to the Bill


The chair of the committee, the ANC’s Gratitude Mangwanishe, is a progressive. He’s served in parliament since 1994, was formerly a deputy Trade and Industry minister and holds an MBA.  He will be sensitive to ANC criticisim of the bill, particularly from the Eastern Cape, which, frankly, wants outright legalization. After all, the limitation of four plants per adult is a bit pathetic from a Pondo perspective. Transkei depends on recreational weed to stay alive and the Private Purposes Bill will continue to criminalize most growers.


South Africa Legal Weed

The DA’s Breytenbach: How practically enforceable will the new law be?


The DA’s main committee representative is the DA’s Glynnis Breytenbach, formerly a high-ranking National Prosecuting Authority official. Her focus will be on the practical elements of the bill, particularly from an enforcement perspective. Although there’s no love lost between the ANC and the DA, any clash over the bill will not likely be along any ideological faultlines. The main opposition is likely to come from the minority African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) representative Steven Swart, as the party opposes any legalization.


Who’s going to decide on the new law?

The Members of Parliament who will decide on the future of recreational cannabis in South Africa:

Full list of the members of the Justice and Correctional Services Parliamentary Committee





To contact the committee, the secretariat’s details are:








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