Parliament, Wednesday, 24 May 2023 – The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services today concluded two days of public hearings on amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, after it broadened the scope of the Bill. Committee Chairperson Mr Bulelani Magwanishe said the proposed amendments seek to broaden the scope of the Bill to include provisions relating to the commercialisation of hemp.
Over the last two days, the committee heard from several stakeholders, including Afristar, Fields of Green for All, Doctors for Life, the Cannabis Action Group, the Marijuana Board, Cosatu, the Cannabis Trade Association and the Rastafi National Council of South Africa.
Concerns about continued arrests for procession of cannabis were raised by several presenters, who called for an immediate moratorium on such arrests. Many argued that the original purpose of the Bill was to deal with private use only, not industrial or commercial purposes. Some presenters claimed there is no such thing as “hemp”, only cannabis used for industrial purposes or industrial cannabis.
The committee heard that the Bill does not adequately address the regulation of the cannabis industry, taxation or access to medicinal cannabis. Moreover, it risks perpetuating the current inequalities and injustices in the criminal justice system, as it does not address the impact of previous criminalisation policies on communities most affected by the drug policy.
Others argued that the use of cannabis for medical use has not been approved in South Africa, as it is may interfere with the functioning of other medication. Patients on medication for cancer and neurological diseases were used as examples of instances where these concerns have been raised.
Mr Magwanishe expressed his gratitude to all presenters, saying it is extremely helpful for the committee to receive various viewpoints as it enhances democracy. The Department of Justice and Correctional Services will be given an opportunity on Friday next week to respond to the concerns raised and inputs made. Thereafter, the committee will begin deliberating on the Bill.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON JUSTICE AND CORRECTIONAL SERVICES, MR BULELANI MAGWANISHE.
For media enquiries or interviews with the Chairperson, please contact the committee’s Media Officer:
Name: Rajaa Azzakani (Ms)
Tel: 021 403 8437
Cell: 081 703 9542
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