The Traditional Health Practitioners Act did not create a mechanism to sell cannabis and cannabis-related products that are not exempted in terms of the Medicines Act
THE SOUTH African Police Service has issued a stern warning that dealing in cannabis is still illegal and action would be taken not only against businesses that sell cannabis illegally, but also against the customers who buy these products.
In a joint statement issued by the South African Police Service and the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) yesterday, SAPS spokesperson Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo pointed out that the establishment of illegal dispensaries/outlets, online sites and social media platforms that are marketing and selling cannabis and cannabis-related products to the public remained illegal, except where specifically allowed in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act.
“Some of these illegal businesses, purporting to be operating legally in terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, are also being sold to members of the public as franchises authorised to deal in cannabis and cannabis-related products,” Naidoo added.
“In terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, the definition of ‘traditional medicine’ means an object or substance used in traditional health practice for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of a physical or mental illness or any curative or therapeutic purpose, including the maintenance or restoration of physical or mental health or well-being in human beings but does not include a dependence-producing or dangerous substance or drug.”
He went on further to state that, as a result, the Traditional Health Practitioners Act did not create a mechanism to sell cannabis and cannabis-related products that are not exempted in terms of the Medicines Act.
Naidoo further reminded the public that, in terms of the Constitutional Court judgment handed down on September 18 2018, “only an adult person (18 years and older) may use, possess or cultivate cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption in private”.
“The use, including the smoking of cannabis in public or in the presence of children or in the presence of non-consenting adult persons is not allowed. The use or possession of cannabis in private other than by an adult for his or her personal consumption is also not permitted.”
He warned further that dealing in cannabis remained a serious criminal offence in terms of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act.
“The definition of dealing includes performing any act in connection with the transhipment, importation, cultivation other than the cultivation of cannabis by an adult in a private place for his or her personal consumption in private, collection, manufacture, supply, prescription, administration, sale, transmission or exportation of the drug”.
Cannabis (the whole plant or parts or products thereof) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (the psychoactive substance that gives one a “high”) are currently listed as Schedule 7 substances in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, except when present in processed hemp fibre and products containing not more than 0.1% of THC in a form not suitable for ingestion, smoking or inhaling purposes; or when present in processed products made from cannabis seed containing not more than 0.001% of THC; or when used for medicinal purposes.
“Cannabidiol (CBD) is listed as a Schedule 4 substance. Certain CBD-containing preparations have been excluded from the operation of the Schedules by the Minister of Health for a time-limited period.”
He explained that CBD-containing preparations for medicinal use were excluded when they contained a maximum daily dose of 20mg of CBD with an accepted low-risk claim or health claims, without referring to any specific disease.
“CBD-containing processed products are also excluded when the naturally occurring quantity of CBD and THC contained in the product does not exceed 0.0075% and 0.001% of CBD and THC respectively.
“Any CBD-containing products that are outside the parameters of the exclusion notice are subject to the provisions of the Schedules and registration as a medicine.”
He added that the SAPS was mandated to act, not only against businesses that sell cannabis illegally, but also against the customers who buy these products.