The South African National Assembly has passed The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, five years after it was first introduced. The bill, which can only be made into a law once signed by the President, will permit adults to use and cultivate cannabis at their home, but will not legalise buying or selling.
Sales of cannabis will still be strictly illegal, with the Democratic Alliance Member of Parliament Janho Engelbrecht making this comment in the National Assembly, “People should bear in mind what this bill is about. It is about cannabis for private use by adults. You are not allowed to buy or sell cannabis, because this still remains a criminal activity with severe consequences. If you want to smoke it, you have to grow it, don’t buy it”.
In 2018 a case was brought to the South African Constitutional Court by Rastafarian Garreth Prince and former Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton arguing the laws forbidding the use of cannabis were unconstitutional. The court upheld the argument and the historical judgement effectively decriminalised the use of cannabis, or dagga as it is commonly known in South Africa, within the home.
The cannabis bill passed on Tuesday was started shortly after the court ruling in 2018 but has been delayed by bureaucracy, as well as concerns the bill did not make enough considerations about the potential impact on children. The full amended bill proposes to:
- respect the right to privacy of an adult person to possess cannabis plant cultivation material; to cultivate a prescribed quantity of cannabis plants; to possess a prescribed quantity of cannabis; and to smoke and consume cannabis;
- regulate the possession of cannabis plant cultivation material; the cultivation of cannabis plants; the possession of cannabis; and the smoking and consumption of cannabis by an adult person
- protect adults and children against the harms of cannabis
- provide for the expungement of criminal records of persons convicted of possession or use of cannabis
- delete and amend provisions of certain laws