Cannabis debate rages on in parliament

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The portfolio committee on justice and correctional services will continue with its response before parliament to submissions by the public on the proposed Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.

The submissions by the public followed the Constitutional Court handing down a September 2018 judgment that South Africans had the right to consume cannabis in the privacy of their own homes.

The judgment decriminalised the private use of cannabis but left open various hazy areas, while the process to get the Bill drafted dragged along.

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State law advisor advocate Sarel Robbertse said the South African Medical Association referred to the World Medical Association not approving of cannabis use for medical purposes.

The Bill could not regulate cannabis in the same manner as the Tobacco Products Control Act and Liquor Act because it could be regarded as an amendment to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act.

“If a commercial model is considered in SA to regulate recreational use … it could be implemented to further restrict the use of cannabis,” he said.

Robbertse said there was an opening for other departments to ensure the legislation dealt with the recreational use of cannabis and the regulation thereof through a commercial model.

“What is allowed to be sold mainly relates to CBD [cannabidiol]. CBD is not actually a drug,” he said.

CBD was a schedule 4 drug, which meant it could be used for medicinal purposes.

“On the other hand, THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] is currently regulated under the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and if any person sells cannabis or THC extraction, it will be in contravention of the drugs Act as well as the law,” he said.

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“Anything that contains THC is prohibited,” he added.

Robbertse said CBD that exceeded a certain percentage was currently regulated and a doctor had to prescribe it. CBD below that percentage could be sold.

The Medicines and Related Substances Act only recently rescheduled cannabis from a schedule 7 to a schedule 6 drug.

Although there were critics of the Bill, a lack of consultation may impact certain rights of people and indigenous customs.

Main aspects of the measures aimed to ensure there were no large-scale dealing in cannabis and to protect children against the harms associated therewith.

“Currently, the Bill aims to regulate private use of cannabis and criminalisation is necessary to ensure compliance with regulating measures that are there to protect other harms of cannabis,” he said.

Source: citizen