Picture: Chris Roussakis/Bloomberg
Picture: Chris Roussakis/Bloomberg

Cannabis bill open for public to comment

By Yolisa Tswanya Time of article published Sep 10, 2020

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Cape Town - Participation campaign Dear South Africa has called on the public to make itself heard and comment on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.

Dear South Africa managing director Rob Hutchinson said the Cannabis Bill was a controversial one.

“There are still heavy penalties and some might agree and others disagree, and for that reason the public needs to have its say to shape the law,” he said.

The draft bill was published by the Department of Justice and Correctional Services last month, and will give effect to a Constitutional Court judgment that was made in 2018, which declared parts of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and Medicines and Related Substances Control Act unconstitutional, and decriminalised the private use of dagga.

The bill outlines rules for the use and possession of cannabis and for those who have been convicted for cannabis-related offences in the past.

The rules in the bill include a maximum jail term of 15 years for anyone who deals in cannabis or sells it to a child.

Anyone who smokes in public may be jailed up to two years, while smoking around children can result in up to four years in jail.

Legal limits for personal, legal use at home is unlimited for seeds and seedlings, four flowering plants are allowed for those living alone, eight plants for homes with two adults or more, 600g of dried cannabis if you live alone, or 1.2kg in homes with two or more adults.

Janet O’Donoghue, of the SA Cannabis Community and Regulatory Association, said they were against the bill and dictating terms of individual personal use by consenting adults in private, and the policing thereof.

The bill used the guise of upholding the right to privacy by making it possible for police to invade the person and/or property of any ordinary citizen, at any time or place, without clearly defined probable cause being a requisite.

“This bill derogates the right to life and the right to dignity, both of which are non-derogable under the Constitution, as well as the right to bodily and psychological integrity, of both adults and children by restricting and, therefore, effectively denying their access to effective herbal cannabis treatments for many life threatening and terminal illnesses. This will both affect private use through quantity restrictions and the policing of the proposed private use act, and criminalise available safe, effective, inexpensive natural cannabis treatments absolutely.” Comments close on September 31. To comment, visit: https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/cannabis/

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