South Africa’s Cannabis Bill Revamp: Public Input Sought for Hemp & Production Boom

Cannabis Law
  1. The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in South Africa has opened the proposed amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill for public comments, with a submission deadline of 28 April 2023.
  2. The amendments aim to broaden the bill’s scope to include provisions related to hemp commercialization, and the use and production of cannabis, addressing ambiguities and gaps in the current legislative framework.
  3. The proposed bill has the potential to significantly impact the cannabis industry by mainstreaming its use and enabling businesses to capitalize on the growing popularity of cannabis products.

The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services in South Africa has announced the opening of the proposed amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill for public comments. The National Assembly is inviting interested stakeholders to submit their opinions and suggestions on the proposed changes by the deadline of Friday, 28 April 2023.

These amendments aim to expand the scope of the bill to incorporate provisions pertaining to the commercialization of hemp, as well as the utilization and production of cannabis. The move follows extensive consultations and a lengthy legislative process that led the National Assembly to grant the portfolio an extension for inquiries into the bill in February.

The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill is one of 51 bills currently progressing through parliament, with the final step being assent by the president, as reported by the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG). The need for updates to the existing cannabis-related legislation originated from a high court ruling in 2017 that deemed several sections of the Drugs Act and Drug Trafficking Act unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court concurred with this decision in 2018.

The updated bill seeks to address ambiguities and gaps in the current legislative framework governing cannabis. Presently, the law permits the use and cultivation of cannabis in private spaces, but the definition of “private space” remains unclear. This vagueness has caused confusion regarding whether locations such as homes and vehicles qualify as private spaces, thereby allowing for the consumption and cultivation of cannabis.

According to the bill, its primary objectives are to permit the cultivation of a prescribed quantity of cannabis plants, possession of a specific amount of cannabis, and the consumption of cannabis. Additionally, the bill aims to facilitate the expungement of criminal records for those convicted of possession, use, or dealing in cannabis on a presumptive basis. Furthermore, it intends to enable commercial activities involving cannabis and implement the deletion and modification of certain provisions in the existing legislation.

Uncertainties in South Africa’s cannabis laws leave consumers and businesses at risk of inadvertently violating the law. The proposed cannabis bill has the potential to significantly impact the industry by bringing it into the mainstream, allowing more people to use cannabis and enabling businesses to capitalize on the growing popularity of cannabis products.

The PMG has informed interested parties that submissions can be emailed to Mr. V Ramaano at Stakeholders are encouraged to participate in this process and contribute their insights on this crucial piece of legislation that could shape the future of the cannabis industry in South Africa.

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