South Africa's new law for private cannabis use

African flag and cannabis leaf

South Africa's president signs 'Private Setting' cannabis legalization measure

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Cannabis for Private Purposes Act (CfPPA) into law, marking a significant milestone in the country's cannabis reform journey.

This legislation regulates the cultivation, possession, and use of cannabis by adults in a private setting, aligning with a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling that deemed cannabis prohibition unconstitutional for personal use.

Background and legislative journey

The landmark decision by South Africa's Constitutional Court in 2018 declared the prohibition of cannabis for adult individuals as unconstitutional. This ruling followed a lower court decision in Western Cape in 2017, which determined that banning cannabis use by adults at home was unconstitutional.

Despite the ruling, there were ambiguities regarding the quantities of cannabis that could be cultivated and possessed privately, leaving many policy decisions to lawmakers. After several years of delays, the President has now codified this decision into law.

Key provisions of the CfPPA

The CfPPA not only regulates private cannabis use but also removes cannabis from the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act. This change facilitates amendments to the Schedules to the Medicines and Related Substances Act and provides for targeted regulatory reforms of the Plant Breeders Rights Act and the Plant Improvement Act. These amendments aim to support the industrialisation of the cannabis sector in South Africa.

Global context of cannabis legalization

South Africa joins a growing list of nations that have modernised their cannabis policies. Uruguay led the way by legalising cannabis nationally for adults in 2013, followed by Canada in 2018, Malta in 2021, and Luxembourg in 2023. Germany also recently passed a national adult-use legalization measure, with provisions of the CanG law taking effect earlier this year.

Implications for South Africa's cannabis industry

While the CfPPA does not legalise the commercial sale of adult-use cannabis products, the removal of cannabis from the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act is a significant step. Similar to Germany’s recent removal of cannabis from its national Narcotics List, this move is expected to have a substantial impact on South Africa's medical cannabis industry.

Researchers estimate that the medical cannabis industry in South Africa could boost the economy by R100 billion annually and create over 130,000 jobs.

Personal perspective

From my perspective, the signing of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Act is a monumental step forward for South Africa. It not only aligns with the global trend towards cannabis reform but also sets the stage for substantial economic and social benefits.

The potential for job creation and economic growth in the medical cannabis sector is immense, and I believe that this move will pave the way for more comprehensive cannabis policies in the future. It is a clear indication that South Africa is committed to progressive reforms that can have far-reaching positive impacts.

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Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

About the author:

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen is known for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of CBD and hemp production. With a career spanning over a decade in the cannabis industry, he has dedicated his life to understanding the intricacies of these plants and their potential benefits to human health and the environment. Over the years, Robin has worked tirelessly to promote the full legalization of hemp in Europe. His fascination with the plant's versatility and potential for sustainable production led him to pursue a career in the field.

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