The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services for drafting the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill (B19-2020) has announced another round of Public Comments.
Written submissions must be emailed to [email protected] by or before 13 October 2023.
Civil Society members and organisations can “make written submissions on alternative solutions by which to address the issue of the prohibited use, possession and cultivation of, or dealing in, by children (persons younger than 18 years), with due regard to the best interest of the child.”
Children must be dealt with outside the criminal justice system. Thanks to the Constitutional Court Ruling in 2022, Cannabis and Children is NOT a criminal justice issue. Despite this, we are uncertain how to adequately comment on children and Cannabis without a publicly available draft Bill.
While Public Comments are invited on the current iteration of the Bill – presumably following the third round of Public Comments in May of this year – the latest draft is not yet public. The link to “Track the Bill” takes us back to what appears to be the first draft, which already saw the Department of Health impose biassed approaches lacking evidence where children are concerned.
BusinessTech’s recent announcement on Public Comments submissions also contains what appears to be the original draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill. You can learn more about the Bill’s “developments” at the Parliamentary Monitoring Group.
You can see the first, second, and third draft versions below:
Anyone familiar with these drafts will know the various points of unconstitutionality present within them – going from erroneous and egregious to ridiculous and desperate. You will also know that we refuse to submit to any of the nonsensical parameters laid out in them!
To add insult to injury, the Working Document that has been doing the rounds since mid-September is also not a complete document to work from. We cannot find it on ANY official sites.
This is a major cause for concern for civil society organisations like Fields of Green for ALL and our various allies in unleashing Dagga for all. Without any clarity as to what we are supposed to publicly comment on, how can we do the wider discussion any justice?
We do have a few members in our team who have made requests for the actual updated draft Bill, and we will release this in order to inform you ALL correctly as soon as we get it – if we get it.
Simply put, we cannot trust the Working Document at this juncture. Despite looking very promising on various points, we remain uncertain about its validity and applicability in this last round of Public Comments.
Our best bet presently is to use the Cannabis Bill Comments and Summary – 1 September 2023 as the basis for submissions to make Public Comments on a draft Bill reflective of the lack of political will we have come to expect from our policymakers.
The recent “weedch hunt” for the vendors who sold unsafe muffins to kids from Pulamadibogo Primary School in Soshanguve, Gauteng is further complicating matters.
While it is widely alleged that the R2 muffins were “laced with dagga” – no mention has been made of the muffins being tested to prove they contain Dagga, or indeed any other contaminants.
This leaves one wondering if this incident – which has seen several counts of attempted murder levelled against the vendors – isn’t perhaps part of a wider political gamble.
We know that various politicians see advocating for Cannabis as political suicide – Crisis Point 9. This, of course, implies that advocating against the Plant – as guided by the persistent trends of prohibition – would allow for political success, if not domination in coveted wards.
MAY THE FOURTH (ROUND) BE WITH US
As we approach the fourth and final round of Public Comments, we need to bring a unified voice that WILL NOT be silenced nor sidelined.
We need our policymakers to recognise the fastidious folly of their ways. We call on them to recognise that children have shared relationships with the Plant through the guidance and tutelage of their parents and community leaders.
Children are not tools through which to drive political agendas. Communities must not be coerced into feeding the egos of politicians seeking to gain votes.
We stand fast: NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!