The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services has opened the proposed amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill for public comments.
The National Assembly is now calling on interested stakeholders to write submissions on the proposed amendments by no later than Friday, 28 April 2023.
Ultimately, the proposed amendments seek to broaden the scope of the bill to include provisions relating to the commercialisation of hemp, the use of cannabis and its production.
After major consultation and a slow legislative process surrounding the bill, the National Assembly granted the portfolio the extension of inquiries into the bill in February.
The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill forms part of 51 bills currently making their way to parliament prior to being assented into law by the president, according to the Parliamentary Monitoring Group (PMG).
Updates to the bill relating to cannabis stemmed from a high court ruling in 2017 which found several sections of the Drugs Act and Drug Trafficking Act unconstitutional. The Constitutional Court agreed with this in its own ruling in 2018.
The new bill aims to address loopholes and grey areas within the current legislative framework surrounding cannabis.
Current laws allow for cannabis use and cultivation in private spaces, but the definition of a “private space” is unclear. This has led to confusion regarding whether spaces like homes and cars qualify as private and therefore allow for cannabis use and cultivation.
The bill itself states that it aims to allow for the cultivation of a prescribed quantity of cannabis plants, possess a prescribed quantity of cannabis and the consumption of cannabis.
It further seeks to provide for the expungement of criminal records of persons convicted of possession or use of cannabis or dealing in cannabis on the basis of a presumption, allow for commercial activities in respect of cannabis and provide for the deletion and amendment of certain provisions within current legislation.
Certain uncertainties within South Africa’s cannabis legislation open consumers and business people to falling on the wrong side of the law.
The cannabis bill has the potential to open up the industry and bring it into the mainstream allowing more people to use cannabis as well as business to take advantage of the growing popularity in cannabis products.
The PMG noted that submissions can be emailed to Mr V Ramaano at [email protected].