Home South African ‘Dagga private purposes bill discriminates against poor’

‘Dagga private purposes bill discriminates against poor’

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The bill sets a maximum jail term of 15 years for anyone who deals in cannabis or sells it to a child. Anyone who smokes in public may be jailed for up to two years, while smoking around children can result in up to four years in jail.

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THE CANNABIS for Private Purposes Bill – released for public comment – does not reflect the spirit of the Constitutional Court ruling that decriminalised the private use of dagga, says the SA Drug Policy Initiative (Sadpi).

Affluent communities will benefit enormously from the bill as it stands, it said, but its requirements effectively exclude the millions of South Africans who lack the space to grow and consume cannabis in such strict conditions of privacy.

“It discriminates against the indigent by imposing a de facto prohibition on their use and cultivation of cannabis, and leaves vulnerable communities at risk of excessive penalties and continued human rights abuses by the criminal justice system,” Sadpi said.

“Equally as important, it has little prospect of reducing the scope for organised crime and corruption. A sensible, non-discriminatory approach, rather than one focused on criminalisation and punishment, is needed to control the use and trade in cannabis products.”

The bill sets a maximum jail term of 15 years for anyone who deals in cannabis or sells it to a child. Anyone who smokes in public may be jailed for up to two years, while smoking around children can result in up to four years in jail.

Legal limits for personal, legal use at home are set to: unlimited for seeds and seedlings, four flowering plants for those living alone, eight for homes with two adults or more, 600g of dried cannabis if you live alone, or 1.2kg in homes with two or more adults.

Janet O’Donoghue of the SA Cannabis Community and Regulatory Association rejected the bill, saying: “This bill will further entrench economic discrimination against already marginalised ordinary citizens who could easily produce a substantial viable income through self-employment and micro-industries in a legal market with zero infrastructure costs in our climate.”

So far, more than 5 760 participants have had their say on public participation campaign Dear SA’s website. Comments close on September 30. To comment visit: https://dearsouthafrica.co.za/cannabis/