New cannabis laws for South Africa – how much you can carry and what’s still illegal

 ·28 Feb 2024

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) has passed the Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill, meaning that the legislation is now waiting on the President’s desk to be signed into law.

On 27 February 2024, the NCOP passed the amended piece of legislation, which establishes a new legal framework for adult private use of cannabis while tightening and clarifying the restrictions related to children and the use and possession of the plant.

In 2018, the Constitutional Court upheld a ruling finding that sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act were unconstitutional, leading the way to the decriminalisation of private cannabis use in South Africa.

Introduced in 2020, the legislation broadly seeks to allow for the cultivation and possession of a stipulated quantity of cannabis and the use of it in private settings.

It also looks to expunge the criminal records of those convicted of possessing cannabis.

Responding to various concerns, parliament released a statement saying that the bill “does not propose protection and neither suggesting any provision to use cannabis for traditional purposes and it is not at all aimed to condone the use of cannabis for commercial intensions.”

The Bill also “extremely prohibits children to possess, deal and smoke or consume cannabis,” it added.

What are the prescribed amounts?

According to the Bill, there is a prescribed quantity of cannabis that an adult can cultivate and possess for personal use:

  • Unlimited seeds and seedlings for private cultivation;
  • Allowed four flowering cannabis plants or cannabis plant equivalent per adult person in a private place;
  • Privately possess one flowering cannabis plant or cannabis plant equivalent in a public space;
  • Privately possess 100 grams of dried cannabis or cannabis equivalent in a public space;
  • Privately possess 600 grams of dried cannabis or cannabis equivalent per adult in a private place.

A an adult person may provide to, or obtain from, any adult person without payment:

  • 30 seeds or seedlings or any combination thereof;
  • One flowering cannabis plant or cannabis plant equivalent;
  • 100 grams of dried cannabis or cannabis equivalent.

Some important examples of contraventions of the Bill

The bill does have penalties for contraventions of the provisions, in terms of possession, cultivation, smoking and consumption (specifically in public spaces), as well as the involvement of a child.

  • Smoking and consumption of cannabis in public is prohibited;
  • Exceeding the prescribed amounts previously stipulated;
  • It is a criminal offence to smoke cannabis in a public place, in a vehicle on a public road, or in the immediate presence of any non-consenting adult person/child;
  • Cannabis is considered an intoxicating substance, therefor a person may not operate a vehicle after having used it;
  • It cannot be sold.

These contraventions are punishable by a fine or imprisonment.

An in-depth explanation of other uncertainties can be found here:

The full bill can be read below:

Read: Big change for cannabis use in South Africa

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