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National Cannabis Master Plan in the Pipeline

April 14, 2021

Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

A Draft National Cannabis Master Plan is in the pipeline.

The agriculture, land reform and rural development department recently held a webinar with cannabis private sector stakeholders on the Draft Master Plan designed to provide a broad framework for the development and growth of the cannabis industry.

The Draft Master Plan points out that, with the growing public support and judiciaries overturning legislation that criminalises cannabis, a “new dawn is emerging that is showing the way for a cannabis global market coming to existence that will uphold democratic principles such as human rights and better application of science and research into the sale and use of cannabis––both medically and recreationally”.

It also refers to the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling that gave South Africans the green light to smoke cannabis in the privacy of their own homes.

According to the Draft Master Plan, this development provided the “impetus to recognise the commercialization of cannabis”.

It adds that the “commercialisation of cannabis also has a net-positive impact on the country by potentially creating new jobs.”

In the 2020 State of the Nation Address, president Ramaphosa declared that government plans to develop policy on the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes to “build this industry in line with global trends”.

The Draft Master Plan focuses on both hemp and dagga.

It emphasizes that obtaining a South African Products Regulatory Authority license for medical marijuana is currently the only route into the legal cannabis trade in South Africa.

The aim of the Draft Master Plan is to “provide a broad framework for the development and growth of the South African cannabis industry in order to contribute to economic development, job creation, inclusive participation, rural development and poverty alleviation”.

Key objectives include setting up an inclusive, sustainable and globally competitive cannabis industry in South Africa; increasing the volumes and variety of cannabis products destined for both local and export markets; establishing and increasing the capacity of South African farmers to produce dagga and hemp; creating opportunities for the creation of small-and medium-sized enterprises across the cannabis value chain; increasing investments in research and technology development to support increased production, productivity and competitiveness of the cannabis industry; establishing and increasing the manufacturing capacity of the South African cannabis industry and designating cannabis and hemp products with the designated local content legislative framework.

The Draft Master Plan focuses on the importance of cannabis, status of global cannabis industry, current status of South African cannabis industry, challenges facing the South African cannabis industry, strategic intervention measures, implementation plan and implementation and monitoring structures.

In terms of a proposed implementation plan, the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill will be signed into law in 2022/23.

The bill, tabled on 1 September 2020, is currently before the portfolio committee on justice and correctional services.

Cabinet approved the bill in August 2020 for tabling in parliament.

According to the cabinet statement, the bill gives effect to a Constitutional Court judgement that declared unconstitutional some parts of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992 and Medicines and Related Substances Control Act of 1965.

Parliament was given 24 months to correct the relevant sections.

The bill, drawn up by the justice and constitutional development department, regulates the use and possession of cannabis and the cultivation of cannabis plants by an adult for personal use.

It also provides the limit of the quantity of cannabis that may be possessed by an adult and criminalizes the smoking of cannabis in public places.

The Draft Master Plan also seeks to develop new policy and legislation for the commercialization of cannabis in the current year.