DAFF notes ruling on private use of cannabis

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has noted the ruling by the Constitutional Court to decriminalise the cultivation and private use of cannabis.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made the ruling on Tuesday morning, decriminalising the use and possession of dagga in private use by an adult.

The ruling took forward the Western Cape High Court ruling by Judge Dennis Davis to decriminalise the private use and cultivation of marijuana.

DAFF said that it recognises the developments around the world where various countries are decriminalising dagga, either for medicinal use, recreational purposes or for both.

“Canada's senate (recently) passed the Cannabis Act in June this year. Countries such as Uruguay, Netherlands, Panama and few others have long legalized the use of the plant. Lesotho and Zimbabwe have also decriminalised cannabis cultivation and its use.

“Some US states where the use of the plant has been legalised show a huge potential for job creation in both the medical production space and in the recreational space. In 2017 alone, it accounted for over 100 000 active jobs with billions of US dollars contribution to their economy,” the department said in a statement.

Parliament has been given 24 months to develop a law that will give more clarity in line with the ruling.

Recognising medicinal efficacies of the plant

The department said government has been working in recognising the medicinal efficacies the plant, and have been doing work around this area in the context of the hemp.

“In terms of the current legislation, the mandate for regulating hemp lies with the Department of Health in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965, as well as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development in terms of the Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act of 1992.

“Thus, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has mainly engaged these two departments. DAFF is leading the inter-departmental team that is developing a new regulatory framework for hemp,” the department noted.

The team includes the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Health, Trade and Industry, Environmental Affairs, Justice and Constitutional Development, as well as the South African Police Service.  

The team also includes State-owned entities (SOEs) like the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The engagements between DAFF and other departments as well as SOEs take place through this platform.

Progress made in production of hemp

The department said much progress had been made in terms of dealing with technical matters regarding the production of hemp, research and technology development, commercial feasibility and other related matters.

DAFF and the Department of Health are developing guidelines for regulating the cultivation and manufacturing of hemp and hemp products.

The department said as a result of the ongoing engagements amongst the different departments, it has already formally requested the Departments of Health and Justice and Constitutional Development to consider the necessary legislative amendments to allow for the commercialisation of hemp in South Africa.

“DAFF awaits a response from these departments.” – SAnews.gov.za