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‘Zondo Should Chair a Dagga Commission’; MPs are Urged to Make Evidence-Based Decisions on Cannabis

Cannabis activist Myrtle Clarke called on parliamentarians to establish a “Dagga Commission” and suggested that Judge Raymond Zondo should chair it.

The Fields of Green for All (FGFA) co-founder said it would be appropriate for the Deputy Chief Justice to chair a commission of inquiry into cannabis as he had made the historic Constitutional Court ruling decriminalizing marijuana. She was speaking during a submission by FGFA to the Justice and Correctional Services parliamentary committee which is hearing public submissions on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill. 

 

FGFA: Scrap the bill in its entirety 

Clarke said the Bill should be scrapped in its entirety and that the public should be drawn into discussions on cannabis policy. This she said could be done by an independent commission of inquiry where all affected parties could submit evidence for consideration by policy-makers. 

Judge Zondo is in the process of completing the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture and perhaps chairing a commission on cannabis could be somewhat healing after hearing of how much money has been looted from the state.

The concept of a Cannabis commission of Inquiry has been pushed by FGFA who have pointed out the lack of any evidence-based process behind formulating cannabis laws. The purpose of such a commission would be to hear evidence from all interested parties and on that basis put forward policy recommendations suitable to be debated by parliamentarians and put into law.  Clarke said the FGFA wanted to see the establishment of a Cannabis Ombudsman’s office to facilitate relationships between cannabis stake-holders and the state 

One of the constant themes emerging from the cannabis discussions at the Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee has been government’s dysfunctionality. Speaker after speaker has pointed out over two days of hearings so far (31 August and 1 September 2021) how the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill and the National Cannabis Master Plan are at odds.

Cosatu’s Tony Erenchreich warned government that it needed to speak with one voice if the cannabis economy was to be developed and that government departments were pulling in opposite directions. The Eastern Cape government criticized the Cannabis for Private Purposes bill as it would criminalize farmers and discriminate against the poor.

One of the main problems has been that government cannot make up its mind what cannabis is, as evidenced by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) declaration to MP’s last week that cannabis had no nutrition and could therefore not be classified as a foodstuff.   It also wanted stalks to be excluded from the definition of cannabis unless they contained THC.

 

SA’s cannabis definitions are ‘nonsensical’

Long-time cannabis activist Doron Isaacs of the Cannabis Action Group went so far as to say that the amendments made to Medicines Act as gazetted on 20 May 2020 to define cannabis were nonsensical. “They are unintelligible and would fail Standard 6 English” he said and challenged those responsible for drafting the wording to come and explain themselves.

He said the definitions of cannabis had become so tortured in the hands of South African lawmakers that it was “insane”.  Part of the definition of cannabis was to include anything that produced a “cannabis-like effect”. “That is so unscientific that it is laughable” he told MP’s during his presentation. No-one took him up on his suggestion and laughed.

He called on the Cannabis for Private Purposes bill to be scrapped and for government to embark on a public participation process before any new laws were passed.  Most speakers highlighted the lack of public input into the bills and the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa has called for an independent commission of inquiry to come up with a cohesive cannabis policy and address the glaring gaps in the NCMP.

Advocate Mamba speaking on behalf of cannabis farmers urged parliamentarians to view cannabis from an African perspective in formulating new laws. Most farmers were not interested in trying to measure the THC limits in their crops or growing low-THC hemp.

“In fact, THC is a western ideology” he said.

3 Responses

  1. Cant believe Advocate Mamba’s statement about THC. “In fact, THC is a western ideology” he said. But hopefully science can also help us move cannabis forward. Grateful that they powers have agreed on scrapping the bill.

    1. Indigenous knowledge Systems and African knowledge Systems will have to be included in the Cannabis Bill as to protect our African Heritage And Culture.In Fact,in Africa THC is a foreign term. As Far as research is concerned the first person to define this was Raphael Machoulum an Israelite. So we in Africa also have our own research based in and centred around our cultures and customs so as to value our Cannabis and Hemp and to be able to regulate it fairly to our black communities.
      You are welcome to drop me an email at info@thecannabisandhempco.com.

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