South Africa’s current draft bill on dagga is discriminating against poorer communities who do not have the space to grow boom at home, a lobby group said yesterday.
The South African Drug Policy Initiative (SADPI) said in a statement that the draft bill does not reflect the spirit of the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling which declared existing legislation criminalising the use, possession and cultivation of the product for private use unconstitutional.
While affluent communities will benefit from the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill as it stands, its requirements effectively exclude millions of people who lack the space to grow and consume cannabis in strict conditions of privacy, it said.
SADPI said the bill has little prospect of reducing the scope for organised crime and corruption.
“Therefore, it is obvious that a sensible, non-discriminatory approach, rather than one focused on criminalisation and punishment, is needed to control the use and trade in cannabis products.”
Last week Parliament’s portfolio committee on justice and correctional services extended the deadline for written submissions on the bill from to 30 November.
The bill allows grootmense to possess everything needed to grow dagga at home, and to smoke the product but not sell it.
It also seeks to protect adults and children against the harm of cannabis and provides for the expungement of criminal records of people convicted for the possession or use of dagga.
SADPI said: “Parliament now has the opportunity to produce a cannabis bill that is not only sensible, fair and non-discriminatory; but one that will remove the cannabis trade from the untaxed, informal sector and allow it to make a significant contribution to the upliftment of rural communities, the South African economy and the national fiscus.”