Cannabis Reform Bill in South Africa Under Criticism from Unions and Rastas

Cannabis Reform Bill in South Africa Under Criticism from Unions and Rastas
High Times

It was all supposed to be so easy. The national strategy for the commercialization of the South African cannabis industry was published last year. This February, the president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa said in his state of the nation address that development of the hemp and cannabis sector was a major priority for the country because of the economic engine it represents—including creating an estimated 130,000 new jobs. According to Ramaphosa, “We are streamlining the regulatory processes so the hemp and cannabis sector can thrive like it is in other countries such as Lesotho,” he said. “Our people in the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and elsewhere are ready to farm with this age-old commodity and bring it to market.” Imagine if President Joe Biden said the same thing? However, all is not clear sailing. Politicians vs. the People The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, the current pending legislation at issue, resulted from a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling, decriminalizing cannabis for private use and cultivation in “private spaces.” The bill is intended to create the blueprint for the industry. Instead, it has come under heavy criticism along the way and by a variety of interests. This starts with existing entities like the cannabis clubs, which have essentially been left in limbo. But the critics do not stop here. Most recently, they include Cosatu, the country’s largest union. They say that the bill is contradictory—and further raised doubts as to the government’s commitment to full reform. Namely, while the legislation delineates how cannabis can be produced for personal use and how it can be used for medical purposes, it is not clear how the commercialization of the industry will proceed. And even more importantly, who will be allowed to participate in it. As Cosatu noted, this will send confusing signals to both…

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