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Parliament Briefed on National Drug Master Plan 2019-2024

August 21, 2020

Department of Social Development

Parliament has been briefed on the National Drug Master Plan (NDMP) 2019-2024.

The NDMP was launched on 26 June 2020.

According to the social development department, the NDMP is a blueprint for combating the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse which has reached epidemic proportions in South Africa.

In an earlier statement announcing the launch, the department indicated that the “overarching goal of the National Drug Master Plan is to prevent drug use before it starts, early intervention to ensure substance users receive treatment and rehabilitation services and reducing the demand for illicit drugs”.

The department added that government remains resolved to tackle the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse in South Africa.

Consequently, the Central Drug Authority (CDA) was set up to tackle the scourge of alcohol and substance abuse.

Cabinet approved the NDMP 2019-2024 in October 2019.

In its statement, cabinet described the NDMP as proposing “seven strategic goals to combat the abuse of drugs within our communities. It also proposes dealing with the reduction of the demand for drugs, tighter control of drugs intended for therapeutic use, as well as governance, leadership and accountability of the execution of the NDMP”.

The NDMP focuses on a situational analysis, policy shift on understanding addiction, stakeholder engagement, strategic intent, outcomes and target populations, review of plan and monitoring and evaluation framework.

As regards cannabis, the NDMP refers to the Constitutional Court judgement on 18 September 2018 that declared legislation criminalizing the use, possession, purchase and cultivation of cannabis unconstitutional.

The court ruled that the Medicines and Related Substances Act and Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act had to be reviewed within 24 months.

According to the NDMP, the relevant departments as outlined in the ruling are currently in the process of “aligning specific sections on the cited legislations to comply with the ruling, and to make sure that there is no ambiguity in the possession and private use of Cannabis”.

The NDMP will also facilitate an action plan and provide remedies and interventions to be implemented to curb Cannabis abuse.

A Draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill has subsequently been drawn up.

At a recent virtual meeting, cabinet approved the draft bill for tabling in parliament.

According to the cabinet statement, the draft 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 draft bill 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.

Drawn up by the justice and constitutional development department, the proposed legislation aims to respect the right to privacy of an adult person to possess cannabis plant cultivation material; cultivate a prescribed quantity of cannabis plants; possess a prescribed quantity of cannabis; and to consume cannabis.

The draft bill also aims to:

• regulate the possession of cannabis plant cultivation material; the cultivation of cannabis plants; the possession of cannabis; and the consumption of cannabis by an adult person;
• protect adults and children against the harms of cannabis;
• provide for the expungement of criminal records of persons convicted of possession or use of cannabis;
• delete and amend provisions of certain laws; and
• provide for matters connected therewith.

In the briefing, the department described the 4th edition of the NDMP as a single document covering all national concerns regarding drug control.

The NDMP also represents a multi-sectoral approach to create a South Africa free from the harm associated with drug use, misuse and abuse.

In another briefing, the department updated parliament on the nomination process of the CDA.

The CDA is tasked with overseeing and monitoring the implementation of the NDMP.