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“We reject the bill.”

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Lobbyists bemoaned the draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill during a three-day public participation process in Parliament this week. The bill allows for the private possession and use of cannabis. The unregulated cannabis industry is estimated at R28-billion.


“We reject the bill.”

This was the recurring sentiment as one by one criticisms were levelled against measures in the proposed Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, during public hearings held by Parliament’s Justice and Correctional Services committee this week.


While interested parties were not opposed to the bill being passed, they argued that it needed to be revised.

Pro-marijuana use lobbyists complained that heavy restrictions placed by lawmakers on cannabis use and possession is a failure to recognise the socioeconomic potential for cannabis to alleviate poverty and boost the local economy.


Parliament was criticised for failing to consult effectively with the public before drafting the bill.


Researchers and indigenous communities said that without consultation the bill failed to accurately distinguish between “hemp” and “dagga” and their differing uses; it placed unrealistic limitations on THC levels; over-exaggerated the harms of cannabis and failed to recognise the nutritional as well as environmental potential of cannabis to produce biofuel.

The genesis for the hearings dates to September 2018 when the Constitutional Court handed down a landmark judgment that South Africans had the right to consume cannabis in the privacy of their own homes. This effectively decriminalised the private use of marijuana.

Cilo Cybin Pharmaceutical cannabis plants in a grow room at the company’s facility in Centurion on 20 August 2021.  (Photo: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

The court gave Parliament 24 months to change the legislation to align with the ruling. Though the deadline was missed, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has since released its draft Cannabis Master Plan – a strategy to industrialise and commercialise the controversial plant.

According to the Master Plan, South Africa’s largely black-market cannabis industry is estimated at R28-billion. The number of cannabis users is about 3.4 million and Interpol rated South Africa as the fourth-largest producer in the world.

As part of the Master Plan, the draft bill, passed by Cabinet in August 2021, outlines the rules for the possession and cultivation of marijuana. Source

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