South Africa: Proposed Cannabis Law Has Serious Shortcomings and Must Go Back to the Drawing Board

South Africa could be a global leader in the cannabis sector. The plant has major potential for job creation and medicinal, spiritual and cultural uses. But the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill is woefully lacking in proper research.

“Legalise it!” has been the call made in many reggae songs and more recently in serious academic and court arguments over cannabis use in South Africa. Now, after the time for public comments closed on 30 November 2020, it is over to Parliament to consider the first bill that aims to do exactly that.

The proposed Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill of 2020 sparked debates around how cannabis should be regulated, but there is strong consensus that the proposed bill is inadequate.

In President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2020 State of the Nation Address, he said that “this year we will open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products, providing opportunities for small-scale farmers; and formulate policy on the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes, to build this industry in line with global trends”.

The proposed bill was passed by Cabinet in August, and will be deliberated in Parliament during 2021. However, it does not align with the objectives Ramaphosa outlined….

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