Why it matters: The South African National Assembly has approved a bill that would legalize the personal use of cannabis, taking a step towards potential legalization. However, the bill does not allow for the sale of cannabis and restricts use to private homes. It also does not specify the quantities allowed for personal use or legalize cannabis for medical use.
What they are saying: Supporters of the bill argue that it is a step towards granting adults the freedom to use cannabis in their private spaces. They also hope that it may pave the way for the future legalization of a cannabis industry in the country. However, opponents believe that the bill does not go far enough and that it should include provisions for legal sales and broader legalization for medical use.
The big picture: If the bill passes, it could set a precedent for adult-use cannabis in Africa, as other countries on the continent have mainly focused on cannabis cultivation or medical cannabis. The South African government has also identified the cannabis sector as holding significant potential for investment, job creation, and rural livelihoods.
What to watch: It remains to be seen whether the bill will receive final approval and what regulations will be put in place for private adult cannabis use. The amount of cannabis allowed for personal use and any potential provisions for medical use or a regulated commercial market will be important details to watch for.
My take: While it is a positive step towards cannabis legalization, the bill’s restrictions on sales and lack of clarity on personal use quantities and medical-use provisions may leave some disappointed. However, it does provide an opportunity for expungement of criminal records related to cannabis possession, use, or dealing. Overall, it will be interesting to see how the bill evolves and if it leads to further cannabis reforms in South Africa.