The first draft bill in South Africa to legalise cannabis suffers strong criticism from South Africans as it opens for public discussions and submissions. Most critics claimed the bill encourages prohibition.
The discussion is hosted by the University of Pretoria and it examined the question of whether the draft bill as a first step was a good step.
The bill deals with certain production and useasked Cele cannabis and was approved by the Cabinet.
Attorney Paul-Michael Keichel said criticises the bill on the ground that it is drafted by the Department of Justice, the same department that led the defence of the constitutional challenges and fought tooth and nail to hold on to prohibition..
Keichel represented the “dagga couple” Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, who were arrest in 2011. Their arrest snowballed into the September 2018 Constitutional Court judgment legalising personal use and possession of cannabis.
Keichel said further: “I may not know the individuals behind the bill, but certainly we know they fought dirty in court and ultimately the judgment described their attempts to hold on to prohibition as singularly unimpressive”.
Owner of Siyazenzela Plant Biotech and Agricultural Consultants, Philasande Cele argued that the bill is not a good first step because it does not help make the situation better, especially when it comes to the sanctions.
Then Cele queried: “The law has not been passed, the government is talking as if nothing will be done until next year, so what are people supposed to be doing right now when it comes to this bill with regards to usage, consumption propagation and selling among themselves”?
Stakeholder manager for cannabis lobby group Fields of Green for All, Suresh Patel, said: “The bill shows a total lack of understanding of cannabis as a plant. People don’t often talk about the harms of prohibition, preferring to focus on the harm of the plant.
“The bill contradicts the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling on privacy in general because essentially this bill speaks of plant counting as well as well as limits on how much dried cannabis can be held at home”
The South African Drug Policy Initiative founder, Dr Keith Scott, said the bill is unrepresentative of the spirit of the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling.
He said: “While affluent communities will benefit enormously from the bill as it stands, its requirements effectively exclude the millions of South Africans who lack the space to grow and consume cannabis in such strict conditions”.
To make submissions:
Submissions must indicate your interest in making a verbal presentation. Enquiries must be directed to Mr V Ramaano. Submissions must be emailed to [email protected] Copies of the Bill may be obtained from Mr V Ramaano, tel: (021) 403-3820 or 083 709 8427 or www.parliament.gov.za
The deadline for submissions is 30 November 2020.