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Written by Sheena Beronio

South Africa – Stay delighted but cautious about South Africa’s new bill, decriminalizing the personal and private use of cannabis. The bill, although a step towards progress, has a grey area when it comes to identifying the legality of the term “personal and private use.”

The bill continues to not include the legalization of recreational and medicinal commercialization of cannabis. But most importantly, the bill would provide a comprehensive guideline into what way and into how much the South African’s can grow and possess the herb. 

In a report by the Mail & Guardian, the bill which was drafted by the Ministry of Justice is said to allow the possession of 600g (maximum allowed amount per person) of dried cannabis stashed inside a citizen’s home. Furthermore, the bill only allows a maximum of 1200g of dried cannabis per household, even with more than two adults living together. The stash is strictly for personal use and not for private selling.

South Africans should be wary of the demarcation line between private possession and public possession. The allowed amount on private possession (which indicates “within the house” stash) was explained above. In public possession, a person is only allowed to have a maximum of 60g of dried cannabis at hand. However, public consumption of cannabis is still illegal.

In layman’s terms, you can’t sell cannabis crop, but you can carry dried cannabis of up to 60g as long as you don’t light it up in public. 

The bill also details that the action of selling and buying cannabis of a quantity that’s deemed “trafficable” is punishable of up to 10 years in prison.

All the details included in the new cannabis bill are still up for passage. With the different state agencies (including the public) that are entitled to comment, the bill would likely experience amendments. Some of the details in the original bill would be changed (added, deducted, or simply clarified). The changes would heavily rely on the comments in its process for passage. 

The ruling that brought about the new cannabis bill

A landmark ruling in South Africa slated September 2018 decriminalized the personal and private use of cannabis. To make the constitutional stance on cannabis clearer, the government was tasked to make the legal framework about cannabis with a 2-year deadline.

This landmark decision led to this new cannabis bill. The bill was already sent to various agencies for comment. These agencies were the national director of public prosecutions, the department of health, treasury, and other related state agencies.

Once the comments are collected, the bill would go up to the Cabinet for approval, the Parliament, and the public. The process should wrap up by September 2020.