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A Brief Update on South Africa’s Cannabis Laws

Updated: Mar 17, 2022

As we edge closer to September 2020 we are hearing more as to what we can expect from the next draft of the cannabis legislation.

2020 is well underway and many are counting down the months until we get the feedback we’ve all been waiting for in regards to South Africa’s cannabis laws and legislature. Various statements have been made this year and we’ve been seeing more politicians rallying for the legalisation of cannabis.

Where We Stand

The Regulations of Cannabis Bill, which was drafted by the ministry of justice, will provide the guidelines as to quantities of cannabis people may grow and possess – as well as continuing to outlaw trading of the plant in any form.

The initial Bill was drawn as a response to the judgements made in September 2018 by the Constitutional Court (CC). This judgement decriminalised private cannabis consumption, cultivation and possession. The court then gave the government a 24 month period to revise the legislation and create a framework for the cultivation and possession of the cannabis plant going forward.

A draft of the Bill was sent to the national director of public prosecutions, the department of health, treasury and other relative departments in October to receive comment with the deadline being 31 January. It will then be received by the Cabinet for their approval before being tabled in Parliament where it will go out for comments by the public before September this year.

The global cannabis landscape is changing and activists are hoping that South Africa’s Bill will allow for a range of cultivation, both personally and commercially.

The African Cannabis Report released last year stated that the local industry could potentially be worth more than 107 billion rand if fully legalised and managed correctly. Provincial governments in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape want to steam ahead with commercial cannabis, partly because of the financial prospects. However, they are unable to do so until the government creates the final legal framework.

You Still Can’t Buy or Sell Cannabis

The Bill continues to clearly state that the trade of cannabis is still a criminal offence. The act of selling or buying cannabis can put you in prison for up to 10 years, depending on the scale of the illegal dealings. Possession of more than the prescribed individual amount, but less than the trafficable amount, can lead to a sentence between 2-6 years.


The Bill has made allowances for up to 600 grams of cannabis flower per person, or a total of 1 200 grams per household with 2 or more adults. The consensus is that a gram of flower will provide up to 3 joints.

Public possession has been set to 60 grams, while the consumption of cannabis in public remains illegal.

There’s More…

In addition to this, it has been said that the regulatory model will remain, but we can possibly expect the addition of a commercial model. This would allow for regulated possession, cultivation and possibly retail – similar to what we see for alcohol and cigarettes.

Justice Minister, Ronald Lamola, said that even though the Bill addressed issues raised by the CC, policy decisions still need to take place on finalising quantities for private consumption and cultivation; the appropriate model for the local landscape and what impact cannabis regulation may have on international legal obligations.

These hints that we’re hearing are promising and exciting, but aren’t final. Locals will have to remain patient for a few more months until we can be sure of what we are allowed and not allowed.

Once the relative areas of our government have consulted and finalised, only then will the public be able to provide their comments. For now, South Africans will have to be patient and take information relating to South Africa’s cannabis laws with a pinch of salt. Nothing has been finalised as of yet, and until it has been finalised by the government, we should hold out on the excitement.

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