Many people want to know if South Africa is still legalizing cannabis. That is a very good question because there has been no update to date. The legislation in South Africa has yet to change and the status quo of growing, owning and using cannabis has yet to be clarified. So what are people doing in the interim? There are many potential cannabis dispensaries out there, many potential growers and many potential medical cannabis manufacturers out there who could make a living from cannabis. This starts from the poor, rural growers, through to the innovative natural medical therapy healers.
Where do you fit in? As potential cannabis consumers who want to use natural therapies, we all have a right to know – is South Africa still legalizing cannabis?
South Africans Use Cannabis While Waiting for it to be Legalized
Meanwhile, cannabis is being grown, owned and used by people at their homes. It is being sold on the streets of Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and it is being puffed and consumed in cafes you thought were coffee shops. The first ever cannabis dispensary in South Africa has opened in Durban and is selling cannabis oil derived from America. The owner, Krithi Thaver, is working with the South African government to educate them about the scientific evidence around cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
These two cannabinoids are potent healing substances, but THC makes the user high so is banned in South Africa. CBD has no side effects. So Thaver is selling CBD in his Holistic Relief Wellness and Pain Management Centre to treat chronic diseases such as cancer. He said that South African laws restricted him from testing and making his cannabis oil products so he had to import it from America.
The High Court has to Legalize Cannabis
It has been more than a year since the Western Cape High Court ruled that sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, and the Medicines Act, are not valid and are not consistent with the Constitution. The judge’s decision was that it is not fair on human rights to ban the use, growing and selling of cannabis from the private home by adults. But the court has to still make a decision and declare the sections null and void. This then gets passed to parliament to correct and this too will take months. Then, adults will be allowed to use, own and grow cannabis in their private homes. But so many people are doing this already!
Who Will Own the Trade in Cannabis in South Africa?
The latest news is that the Medicines Control Council will have the last say about cannabis in South Africa. This will unfairly take the trade in cannabis away from small, rural growers who know exactly what they are doing. The MCC wants to hand over all cannabis trade to big pharmaceuticals in other countries so that they can all get rich and leave out the people who matter the most, the people on the ground who have been growing cannabis all their lives.
Anyone who wants to grow, make or import cannabis products needs a licence from the MCC in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965. At the moment, no one is allowed to deal with commercial cannabis at all and cannabis is a banned substance, in the same category as crack cocaine. The South African police waste many hours and energy arresting people for possession of cannabis who are merely using it for health reasons.
Is South Africa still legalizing cannabis? Your guess is as good as ours! Have you been to 420 Cafe in Sandton yet? Grab a pizza sprinkled with cannabis flowers then head upstairs for a joint – all in a day’s work. Or pop into a herb shop in central Jo’burg for your stash. We await the court’s decision with anticipation.