ATC221201: Interim report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B 19 - 2020] (National Assembly – sec 75), dated 30 November 2022
Interim report of the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services on the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B 19 - 2020] (National Assembly – sec 75), dated 30 November 2022
The Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services (the Committee), having considered the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B 19 - 2020], referred to it and classified by the Joint Tagging Mechanism (JTM) as a section 75 Bill, reports in the interim as follows:
- In Minister for Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v Prince 2018 (6) SA 393 (CC), the Constitutional Court declared the following legislative provisions unconstitutional, as they amount to an impermissible limitation of the right to privacy:
- Section 4(b) (possession) and section 5(b) (dealing on the basis of cultivation) of the Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act 140 of 1992 (the Drugs Act), read with Part III of Schedule 2 of that Act; and
- Section 22A(9)(a)(i) of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act, read with Schedule 7 of Government Notice No. R 509 of 2003.
- The Court suspended the order of invalidity for 24 months for Parliament to correct the constitutional defects. Although the 24 months has been exceeded, there is no gap in the law as the Court provided a reading-in provision that ensures that an adult person will not be guilty of a criminal offence if they use, possess or cultivate cannabis for their personal consumption in private.
- On 1 September 2020, the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B19-2020] was introduced and referred to the Committee for consideration and report.
- The Committee was briefed on the contents of the Bill on 4 September 2020 and the Bill was then published for public comment.
- The Committee was also briefed by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the Department of Trade and Industry and Competition on 25 August 2020 on the draft Cannabis Master Plan, which contains a strategy to industrialise and commercialise cannabis.
- The Bill, as introduced, broadly proposed to:
- Respect the right to privacy of an adult person to possess cannabis plant cultivation material; to cultivate a prescribed quantity of cannabis plants; to possess a prescribed quantity of cannabis; and to consume cannabis;
- Regulate the possession of cannabis plant cultivation material; the cultivation of cannabis plants; the possession of cannabis; and the consumption of cannabis by an adult person;
- Protect adults and children against the harms of cannabis;
- Provide for the expungement of criminal records of persons convicted of possession or use of cannabis;
- Delete and amend provisions of certain laws; and
- Provide for related matters.
- Flowing from the public submissions and its pursuant deliberations, the Committee identified certain subjects that the introduced Bill does not address and, therefore, in terms of Rule 286(4)(b) of the National Assembly Rules sought and received the Assembly’s permission to extend the subject of the Bill to, in addition:
- Provide for commercial activities in respect of recreational cannabis;
- Provide for the cultivation, possession and supply of cannabis plants and cannabis by organisations for religious and cultural purposes on behalf of their members; and
- Respect the right to privacy of an adult person to use cannabis for palliation or medication.
- Following the granting of such permission by the National Assembly, the Committee published the Bill containing the proposed new clauses for public comment with a closing date of 13 May 2022.
- The Committee held further public hearings on the virtual platform Zoom on 24 May 2022.
- The Committee also, through communication with the Joint Tagging Mechanism, received comments from the National House of Traditional and Khoi-San Leaders on the development of the content of the Bill.
- Flowing from the public submissions on the new proposed clauses and its pursuant deliberations, the Committee is of the opinion that, as hemp and cannabis plants are of the same species, there is sufficient overlap in the subject matter that requires due consideration of the possible interaction of hemp and cannabis within the purposive scope of the Bill.
- The Committee, accordingly, seeks the further permission of the National Assembly, in terms of Rule 286(4)(b) of the National Assembly Rules, to broaden the scope of the Bill to take into consideration the extension of its provisions to cover hemp in so far as to make the Bill optimally implementable.
Report to be considered.