South Africa is looking at legalising medical marijuana – here’s how it will work

Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services is currently considering amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.

The draft bill, which was published for public comment in September 2020, outlines possession rules for cannabis users at home and people who wish to cultivate the plant.

While the main focus of the bill will remain on the private use of cannabis, the portfolio committee has extended the subject of the bill to the use of cannabis for palliation or medication.

It will also consider the commercial activities in respect of recreational cannabis, and the use of cannabis by cultural or religious communities.

A medical certificate 

The amended bill proposes introducing a certificate that certifies that a person requires palliation or suffers from moderate to severe chronic debilitating physical or mental health conditions, and intends to self-medicate.

This certificate will only be given to adult South Africans by an authorised person and would permit:

  • Cultivating the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a private place;
  • Possess in private, the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a public place;
  • Possess the prescribed quantity of cannabis in a private place; and
  • Possess in private, the prescribed quantity of cannabis plants in a public place.

Religious purposes 

The updated bill also proposes introducing special religious and cultural changes to accommodate those who are part of the Rastafarian faith.

According to the BBC, marijuana is regarded as a herb of religious significance and is used in Rastafari reasoning sessions, which are communal meetings involving meditation.

Marijuana is used by Rastafarians to heighten feelings of community and to produce visions of a religious and calming nature.

Rastafarians are also unlikely to refer to the substance as marijuana; they usually describe it as the ‘wisdom weed’ or the ‘holy herb’.

Submissions on the changes must be sent to [email protected] by no later than 13 May 2022. You can find the updated draft bill below.


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South Africa is looking at legalising medical marijuana – here’s how it will work