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No smoking allowed at SA cannabis conference

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Cannabis industry merchants from across Africa and around the world are expected to convene in Cape Town.

File picture: Richard Vogel/AP

Cape Town – There will be no smoking or any other consumption of cannabis at an upcoming conference at which cannabis industry merchants from across Africa and around the world are expected to convene in Cape Town; it is just not that sort of party.

The CannaTech conference, which begins a week from now, is all about the exploitation of Africa’s large-scale cannabis growing potential for local and international export markets. According to CannaTech: “The African cannabis and associated products market expected to be worth $7.1billion (about R104 million) by 2023.”

The topics to be discussed at the two-day meeting include: Intelligence and Strategic Insight for the African Cannabis Market and Cannabis Addiction: The Facts and the Fears.

The law does not currently allow people to buy cannabis, but at the same time it allows for possession of small amounts for private use.

Brett Pollack of Legalese, a Cape Town legal practice that recently launched a legal service specifically for the cannabis industry in South Africa, said: “The police are – rightly – starting to clamp down quite hard on illegal cannabis dispensaries, especially those ostensibly operating in terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act 22 of 2007.

“Generally speaking, the supply of any part of the cannabis plant outside of the regimes contained in the Medicines Act is still illegal on a plain reading of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992 (the Drugs Act),” said Pollack.

However, there was an argument that such a literal interpretation unreasonably undermined the force and effect of the Constitutional Court’s pronouncement in September 2018.

Pollack’s partner, Eitan Stern, said: “The court directed Parliament to make laws regarding what it means to cultivate, possess, or consume ‘in private’ and what quantities one may grow and possess ‘in private’.”

Parliament has until September 2020 to pass the laws. Stern said that when it did: “It is free to make laws concerning the lawful supply of cannabis for purposes of private use and consumption.”

As for growing cannabis, Henno Bothma, of Cape Town attorneys, Abrahams and Gross, said: “A permit is not needed to grow cannabis on a small scale for private use. If a person wishes to cultivate cannabis to sell for medicinal purposes, the licensing process, as well as who you are allowed to sell to, is regulated by the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority, which collaborates with the Department of Health.”

Another lawyer, Andrew MacPherson, an associate at Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, said: “Currently, it is legal to use and grow cannabis in private. Private is not restricted to your home. It can include on your person, like carrying some in your pocket is fine. Growing cannabis can also be done at a grow club, as this constitutes a private space.”

@MwangiGithahu

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Cape Argus