The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill is a big deal.
It’s been many moons since cannabis was decriminalised for personal and private use in South Africa (September 2018), but there are still so many grey areas around what that actually translates to in practice.
In August last year, Justice and Correctional Services minister Ronald Lamola officially published the draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, and the following month it was tabled in Parliament for discussion.
Sadly, industry experts say the draft has ‘completely missed the mark’, shutting the door where a chance for real economic growth presented itself.
I guess we’re slowly edging closer to things being finalised, reports BusinessTech, with the Department of Health backing the introduction of the bill in Parliament yesterday:
…the department said that the legal decision to decriminalise cannabis for private use is correct.
It said it is not appropriate from a human rights perspective to lock up people who use cannabis, give them a criminal record and waste state resources.
However, it said that the proposed draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill does not go far enough in addressing concerns around children, second-hand smoke and the impact on road users.
There’s always a ‘however’.
The department says the bill, in its current form, doesn’t do enough to protect under-18s “from access and exposure to cannabis”.
The department also warned that cannabis use affects perceptual motor functioning and thus increases the risk of motor vehicle crashes.
In order to address this issue, “resources need to be given to training and equipping police to detect cannabis-impaired driving and prosecuting impaired drivers”.
We can hardly keep a check on drunk driving, so proper policing of people driving while high seems like wishful thinking.
Another issue that needs clarification is exactly what amount of cannabis constitutes personal and private use.
Private is defined as “to keep, store, transport or be in control of cannabis or a cannabis plant, respectively, in a manner that conceals it from public view”.
As things stand, the draft bill lays out these amounts regarding private use:
I think those amounts are pretty fair.
A 1,2-kilogram stash in the house should just about see you through the winter.
The bill also allows for the possession of 100 grams in a public place, so you wouldn’t go carrying around your full stash while out and about.
In the draft bill, the buying or selling of cannabis remains illegal, and punishment for doing so (as well as for smoking in public, smoking around non-consenting adults or any children, and in a vehicle on a public road) can range from a fine to imprisonment of between two and fifteen years.
One more time, and importantly – it could yet be a while before the bill passes, so those amounts above are not yet officially law.
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