South Africa National Assembly Approves Bill to Legalize Personal Cannabis Use

South African lawmakers on Tuesday approved a bill to legalize the personal use of cannabis. The measure does not legalize cannabis sales, meaning if individuals want to consume it legally, they have to grow it.

Full story after the jump.

A bill to allow personal cannabis use in South Africa was approved by the National Assembly on Tuesday, according to a report from The Citizen. The measure was first proposed in 2018 after the Constitutional Court decriminalized cannabis for private use. 

During the session on Tuesday, MP Janho Engelbrecht noted that the measure does not legalize cannabis sales and if individuals want to consume it legally, they have to grow it.  

The measure also provides expungement of criminal records of those convicted of possession, use, or dealing in cannabis based on presumption, the report says. It does not specify the quantities of cannabis plants and dried cannabis that a person may be allowed to possess for private use. 

The bill also does not legalize cannabis for medical use.

Moloto Mothapo, a Parliament spokesperson on the issue, indicated, though, that the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, which is in charge of processing the bill, is hopeful the measure will lead to a broader commercialization of cannabis, which the government has identified as one of 14 priority sectors to secure investment, job creation, and support for sustainable rural livelihoods. 

The Western Cape Town High Court in 2017 ruled that it is unconstitutional to prohibit cannabis use by adults in private homes in a case filed by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince who argued that some of the sections of the Drug Trafficking and Medicines Control acts are discriminatory, outdated, or unfair, and applied disproportionately to Black individuals. The Constitutional Court would affirm that ruling the following year and require the government to approve an appropriate bill by September 28, 2024. 

The bill moves next to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence. 

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