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Cannabis for Private Purposes Act

President Cyril Ramaphosa has signed the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill into law. Here's a summary.
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A last-minute signing

The statement released by The Presidency and dated 28 May 2024, confirms that the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B19B-2020] has been signed into law, making it our first Cannabis-specific Act.

The President waited until the last possible moment to sign this document, with many people waking up to this news on election day.

The Cannabis industry is, understandably, abuzz. What does this mean going forward?

Its purpose is defined and narrow

While there is still a long road to go before the people and the plant are truly free, it is important to note that this piece of legislation deals only with private purposes. Dealing is punished harshly and further legislation is needed to deal with dealing.

Summary of the Act

Definition of Cannabis

What’s significant is the redefinition of Cannabis. No longer referring to the whole plant, Cannabis is now defined in the law as the flowering or fruiting tops of a Cannabis plant and includes products made from it, but excludes any seed, seedling, stalks, leaves and branches without any fruit or flower, and the roots of a Cannabis plant, including products made from that.

Private purposes and private place

Adults may use and possess Cannabis in private for a private purpose.

Adults may share Cannabis with other adults, without exchange of consideration (any form of compensation, gift, reward, favour or benefit), in private for a private purpose.

You may not use Cannabis in the presence of a child or a non-consenting adult.

You may not use Cannabis in a private place near a window or ventilation inlet of another place, or a doorway or entrance to another place.

You may also not use Cannabis in a private place that forms part of a public place where people gather closely together or where smoke is likely to bother another person at that place.

Adults may possess but not use Cannabis in a public place.

Children

A child’s best interest is always the most important in any case where the child has acted illegally:

You may not allow a child to possess or use Cannabis.

You may not supply a child with Cannabis unless the child’s parent or guardian administers Cannabis prescribed to the child by a medical practitioner.

Adults must take measures to ensure that any Cannabis they possess is inaccessible to any children.

You may not engage a child to deal in Cannabis.

Offences and penalties

OFFENCEPENALTY
Dealing or engaging a child to deal in CannabisA fine /
10 years in prison
Or both
Possessing, cultivating or transporting more than the maximum prescribed amount of CannabisA fine /
5 years in prison
Or both
Allowing a child to use or possess Cannabis or providing or administering Cannabis to a child (that has not been prescribed to that child by a medical practitioner)A fine /
1 year in prison
Or both
Failing to store your Cannabis out of reach of childrenR2000 fine
Failing to comply with any condition, restriction, prohibition, obligation, requirement or standard, as may be prescribed while transporting Cannabis (or being a passenger in a vehicle transporting Cannabis) on a public roadR2000 fine
Using Cannabis in a vehicle on a public road, or in a public place, or in a private place in the presence of a child or non-consenting adultR2000 fine
Smoking Cannabis in a private place near a window or ventilation inlet of another place, or a doorway or entrance to another place, or in a private place that forms part of a public place where people gather closely together or where smoke is likely to bother another person at that placeR2000 fine

Where imprisonment is not an option, offences do not count as a previous conviction on the offender’s criminal record.

Past convictions

Clause 5 provides for the expungement of criminal records of persons who were previously convicted of the use or possession of Cannabis.

Further regulations

The Minister must prescribe the maximum amounts of Cannabis that may be possessed, cultivated or transported – Parliament must approve these before publication in the Gazette.

The Minister must regulate any conditions, restrictions, prohibitions, obligations, requirements or standards regarding the transportation of Cannabis, by the person transporting Cannabis and their passengers.

The Minister must prescribe the application form for the expungement of criminal records, the certificate of expungement to be issued by the Director-General, and how the Director-General must submit certificates to the head of the Criminal Record Centre of the SAPS.

The Minister also has the discretion to make regulations to prescribe any matter necessary or expedient to achieve the objectives of the Bill – Parliament must approve these before publication in the Gazette.

Laws affected

  • Drugs & Drug Trafficking Act of 1992 – Cannabis is removed completely
  • National Road Traffic Act of 1996
    • The definition of a “drug having a narcotic effect” is specified to exclude THC.
    • THC is defined as any substance containing (-)-trans-delta-9->tetrahydrocannabinol.
    • Section 15(1)(g) – a person will be disqualified from obtaining or holding a learner’s or driving licence if that person is addicted to the use of any drug having a narcotic effect, or the excessive use of intoxicating liquor or THC.
    • Section 61(1)(g) – the driver of a vehicle involved in or which contributes to an accident, is obliged not to take any intoxicating liquor or drug having a narcotic effect or THC unless he or she has complied with the provisions of paragraph (f), where it is his or her duty to do so, and has been examined by a medical practitioner if a traffic officer requires such an examination.
    • Section 65 – criminalises the driving of a vehicle or to occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle whose engine is running, on a public road, while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or a drug having a narcotic effect or under the influence of THC or THC in combination with alcohol or a drug having a narcotic effect; or while the concentration of alcohol or THC or drug having a narcotic effect in any specimen of blood taken from any part of his or her body or breath is not less than a specified concentration.
    • Section 75 – the Cabinet member responsible for transport may, in consultation with the Cabinet member responsible for health, prescribe any drug or category or class of such drugs having a narcotic effect and the concentration thereof for purposes of section 65.

Footnotes

  • The Minister must regulate the maximum prescribed amount.
  • Cultivating Cannabis plants can only refer to plants in their flowering stage – Cannabis has been redefined to exclude any seed, seedling, stalks, leaves and branches without any fruit or flower.
  • The Minister must regulate the conditions, restrictions, prohibitions, obligations, requirements and standards regarding transporting Cannabis in a vehicle on a public road in terms of both drivers and passengers.
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