The Office of the Cannabis OmBUDSman

By |Published On: June 22nd, 2020|
Cannabis Can Help South Africa

As part of our #CannabisCanHelpSouthAfrica campaign, we are initiating discussions around our ideas for fair and equal regulations – which includes in our vision an Office of the Cannabis OmBUDSman.

The Office of the Cannabis OmBUDsman is part of the “Sustainability & Comprehensiveness” section of our Full Spectrum Model for Policy Reform. It is an attempt to bridge the gap between existing laws and the eventual implementation of new ones. This office should be a new body set up as an essential service which bridges the gap for those government departments who have already indicated that they are under-resourced in terms of both budgetary, knowledge and skills resources. The Cannabis industry will need its own office to deal with issues relating to this unique industry and this office should therefore consist of individuals who have extensive knowledge of the Cannabis plant, local and international drug policies, the history of Cannabis prohibition and Cannabis Culture.

The primary responsibility of the Cannabis OmBUDSman would be to ensure that the new regulations are effected fairly. Specifically relating to the Commercial Pillar, the Office of the Cannabis OmBUDSman serves as a clearinghouse agency that oversees the progressive implementation of new Cannabis-related regulations. This refers not only to the Commercial Pillar of Cannabis users, but also those industry players who fall outside of this, such as home growers, medical patients and Dagga Private Clubs. As the facilitators between government and the rest of the stakeholders in the industry, it should also work towards increasing standards in the industry and this should be done gradually & incrementally.

In order to do this, the Office of the Cannabis OmBUDSman needs to have the necessary resources and knowledge to efficiently and effectively regulate the system alongside the relevant governmental departments and support industry bodies. To facilitate access to resources, membership models should be designed for all those who benefit from the services of the Cannabis OmBUDSman.

It is Fields of Green for ALL’s suggestion that the Office of the Cannabis OmBUDSman is appointed through a public and transparent invitation process that takes into consideration all sectors and interested parties. The Office of the OmBUDSman will consist of:

7 voting persons composed of:

  • one health professional,
  • one Cannabis NGO representing civil society,
  • one representative of law enforcement (in order to facilitate a major reduction in the presence of law enforcement within the Cannabis arena)
  • one legal professional,
  • one environmental specialist,
  • one representative of Kasinomics,
  • one labour specialist/fair trade specialist/union representative.

And six non-voting members, the coordinator of each Task Force, and a representative from each Bureau:

  • Task Force coordinator for Women empowerment and gender equality,
  • Task Force coordinator for Medical patients,
  • Task Force coordinator for Urban areas,
  • Task Force coordinator for Rural areas,
  • Representative of the Bureau of Traditions,
  • Representative of the Bureau of Historical Justice.

The process of selection should draw on a pool of experts who have specific knowledge of Cannabis and experience of the evolution of Cannabis from an illegal drug to a viable, regulated industry. More information about the Task Forces & Bureaus is available in the full document of the Manifesto.

The mandate of the office of the Cannabis OmBUDsman must include:

  • Approve and register Hubs (see chapter 3.3.3.1 of the Manifesto),
  • Approve Legacy Hubs, monitor and help them in preserving Traditional Knowledge (TK) and Tradtional Cultural Expression,
  • Approve and register transformation facilities and companies,
  • Recommend testing facilities to Hubs,
  • Hold a register of accredited support industries (processing and manufacture, transport, etc.),
  • Develop information leaflets explaining clearly the different options to enter the legal market, in all 11 official languages,
  • Develop Standard Operating Procedures – for gradual implementation by all businesses,
  • Liaise with existing funding institutions in order that small Cannabis businesses have access to credit when selling their crops to their Hub,
  • Implement Task Forces – these must be appointed by the office of the Cannabis OmBUDsman in order to disseminate information around Cannabis regulation in all areas of South Africa. This is achieved through existing community structures and through media such as community radio stations. In the establishment of the Task Forces, recognition must be given to existing organisations who have already begun this important work,
  • Monitor reform implementation,
  • Protect the rights of citizens and ensure opportunities for access to the legal market for ALL,
  • Guard against corruption at Hub level, a very serious issue,
  • Lead research and development,
  • Promote gender equality and effective, inclusive participation.

The mandate of the Full Spectrum Manifesto for Policy Reform is to include those previously disadvantaged by Cannabis prohibition and the authors of the Manifesto are confident that the Office of the Cannabis OmBUDsman will fulfill the role of ensuring this vital issue is not overlooked. We welcome any comments or suggestions via our dedicated Manifesto page.

Cannabis Can Help South Africa

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About the Author: Marleen Theunissen

Cannabis lover, spreader of love, hater of injustice and recently-turned activist.

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