In recent years, South Africa (South Africa) has made significant strides toward legalizing cannabis. The process began with a landmark Constitutional Court ruling in 2018, known as the Prince ruling, which decriminalized the use of cannabis for personal purposes.
Gareth Prince, a lawyer and practicing Rastafarian from Cape Town, played a key role in the decision. The Constitutional Court found that the criminalization of cannabis was motivated by racism and noted that the harms of cannabis were not as serious as previously claimed, undermining the arguments for its prohibition.
The next step was the Cannabis for Private Purposes bill, which was passed by the National Assembly in November 2023. The law, drafted after years of waiting and delays, allows adults to possess and cultivate cannabis but does not set precise limits on possession or cultivation. The Ministry of Justice and Criminal Services has been tasked with developing detailed regulations on the matter.
Read more about the legalization of cannabis in South Africa and find the latest cannabis news from around the world with the Hemp.im mobile app.
An interesting aspect of the law is that it still prohibits buying or selling cannabis in South Africa
Adults are only allowed to use cannabis in private residences, and the only legal way to get it is to grow it yourself. Buying and selling cannabis remains a crime with severe consequences.
“People should remember what this law is about. It is about cannabis for private use by adults. It is forbidden to buy or sell cannabis, as this remains a criminal activity with severe consequences. If you want to smoke it, you have to grow it, don’t buy it,” said MP Janho Engelbrecht, who spoke on the bill in the National Assembly
The bill also provides amnesty for those previously convicted of cannabis possession, use, or trafficking. This step is significant because it could help reduce the negative impact of previous laws on the lives of many citizens.
However, the law does not cover the commercial or medical use of cannabis. The South African government has expressed hope that the new law will be a starting point for further development of the country’s cannabis industry, which has been identified as one of 14 priority sectors for investment, job creation, and support for sustainable development in rural areas.
In the context of the legislative process, the delays in passing the law were partly due to concerns about the potential impact on children and young people. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development urged the committee to consider expanding the scope of the law to include the best interests of young people.
The law is currently awaiting approval by the National Council of Provinces and must be signed by South Africa’ president before coming into effect. President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed support for South Africa’s inclusion in the global medical cannabis and cannabis industry, highlighting the potential economic benefits, such as the creation of more than 100,000 jobs.
The legalization of cannabis in South Africa is a significant step toward liberalizing drug policy, respecting civil rights and potential economic development, although many challenges and questions remain, especially in terms of market regulation and social impact.
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First published in FaktyKonopne. A third-party contributor translated and adapted the article from the original. In case of discrepancy, the original will prevail.
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