September 2020 signifies the end of the 24 month waiting period for locals for an update on the South African cannabis legislation. In September of 2018, cannabis was decriminalised and allowances were made for locals to cultivate and consume cannabis in their personal and private capacity. However, this was only for 24 months, giving the government time to observe the growing culture and industry before finalising their scheduling and legislation of cannabis.
Local Community Will Have to Wait
The cannabis community could not wait for this moment, hoping to hear more positivity in terms of an outcome for the industry and in hopes that their culture’s position in society would be finalised. Sadly though this will not be the case, as the government has made a statement that this deadline will not be met due to the impact that COVID-19 has had on the functioning of the country.
This comes just days after amendments were made to the local CBD regulations and scheduling. CBD has undergone its own 12 month period of observation and had edits made to the original paperwork. However, the entirety of cannabis may be a more complex manner and might be something the government doesn’t want to rush.
There is still much to determine before the government can make a final call on cannabis. Delays in promulgating the Regulation of Cannabis Bill as well as various edits to the Medicine and Related Substances Control Act are the cause for a delay in meeting the deadline. COVID-19 has made discussions very difficult, as the sitting of parliamentary committees and the ability to hold a public participation process have all been limited due to the ongoing pandemic.
Chrispin Phiri, spokesperson for the department of justice and constitutional development, confirmed the delay in passing the Bill, of which a draft was circulated in January. This draft did not mention much about the industry of cannabis or commercial trade, but focused on personal factors such as possession amounts and clarification on public consumption.
Patience is Key
Although this does come as a bit of a blow to the industry and community, we can be assured that cannabis is still a priority of the government, but in the face of a pandemic, South African cannabis legislation is not the number one priority. No timeline has been given as to when they will give us their final verdict, but we have seen support from local politicians which may signify that they will not let this matter lose its urgency or importance.
Once again, South Africans will have to be patient. For now, we can grow and enjoy our herb in private – but will have to wait to find out final details and more on the future of the local cannabis industry.