Fields of Green for ALL offers the following comments on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill and looks forward to engaging with law makers and regulators in order to offer assistance with our vast experience in the field of Cannabis law reform in South Africa. It is only through consultation with ALL the relevant stakeholders that any Cannabis Bill will pass Constitutional muster.
To summarise some the pertinent issues that need to be addressed:
- PRIVACY – There is an obvious contradiction between respecting the privacy of citizens and prescribing the quantity of Cannabis that may be cultivated. If there is to be no prescribed quantity of Cannabis for consumption, then why limit cultivation and possession?
- HARMS OF CANNABIS – Fields of Green for ALL and our constituency rejects this Bill outright as it is based on the perceived harms of Cannabis, the plant itself and the trade therein. This Bill is not based on evidence. In South Africa these “harms” have never been debated with scientific evidence & relevant experts, nor has the evidence of the harms of Cannabis been presented before a court of law.
- PROHIBITION AND THE SOUTH AFRICAN POLICE SERVICE – The harms of the prohibition of Cannabis far outweigh the perceived harms of the plant and its trade therein. This Bill constitutes the continued prohibition of Cannabis by giving the police undue power and, by doing so, guarantees that the stigma surrounding Cannabis and the uninformed actions of the police will prevail. This Bill does not constitute the “decriminalisation” of Cannabis in South Africa.
- SOCIAL EQUITY – Fields of Green for ALL would like to think that, particularly given the current Covid-19 pandemic, our government would be putting the needs of the most disadvantaged in our society first. Unfortunately, this Bill excludes the “poorest of the poor” – people who live in informal settlements and many in our nation’s townships & urban areas do not have private spaces where they can grow Cannabis safely and securely.
Our commentary and input is based on our Full Spectrum Manifesto for Policy Reform document, an evidence based approach that government can use to help formulate sensible Cannabis laws. Over many years, with extensive input from Cannabis experts locally and internationally, our manifesto outlines how South Africa can create a unique Cannabis industry that is community based, accessible and enforceable. We use evidence and facts to show how Cannabis prohibition and overregulation stifle the Cannabis industry, especially in comparison to legal vices such as alcohol and tobacco.
If anyone would like to share their own commentary or analysis of the bill with Fields of Green for ALL, either contact us via our social media or email Myrtle Clarke on firstname.lastname@example.org.