Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill passed by NCOP

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In a move that could catalyse the reshaping of South Africa’s cannabis landscape, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) recently passed the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B 19B-2020] (the Bill).

Introduced in the National Assembly on 1 September 2020, the Bill seeks to fulfill several objectives. One key goal is to give effect to the judgment of the Constitutional Court in Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others versus Prince, National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others versus Rubin, National Director of Public Prosecutions and Others versus Acton and Others.

Other objectives are to:

  • Respect the right to privacy of an adult person to use or possess cannabis.
  • Regulate the use or possession of cannabis by an adult person.
  • Provide for an alternative manner by which to address the issue of the prohibited use, possession of, or dealing in, cannabis by children, with due regard to the best interest of the child.
  • Prohibit the dealing of cannabis.
  • Provide for the expungement of criminal records of persons convicted of possession or use of cannabis or dealing in cannabis on the basis of a presumption.
  • Amend provisions of certain laws.
  • Provide for matters connected therewith.

After its passing by the National Assembly on 14 November 2023, the Bill was referred to the NCOP for concurrence. On 30 November 2023, the NCOP’s Select Committee (the Committee) on Security and Justice invited stakeholders and interested persons to submit written submissions on the Bill by no later than 19 January 2024. Following the public input, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development briefed the Committee on 25 January 2024 regarding the submissions received.

Read more about cannabis production in Zimbabwe.

The Committee’s report suggests that the majority of the submissions related to the sale and commercialisation of cannabis. However, the responses to these comments clarify that the sale and commercialisation of cannabis will be regulated by contemplated separate national legislation.

On 21 February 2024, the Committee deliberated on the Bill and had no further proposed amendments. The Committee subsequently adopted the Bill on 23 February 2024 with no further amendments proposed and recommended that the NCOP pass the Bill without proposed amendments. This recommendation was followed by the NCOP adopting the Bill on 27 February 2024.

Since the Bill has been classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism as a section 75 bill (Ordinary bills that do not affect the provinces) and was passed by the NCOP without amendments, it now awaits the president’s assent and signature before it becomes an Act of Parliament. – Rodney Africa, partner, Adriano Esterhuizen, partner, Lerato Molefi, associate and Daveraj Sauls, associate at Webber Wentzel

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