In 2020 cabinet approved the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill and referred it to parliament. On the back of this, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development submitted a master plan in 2021 detailing key areas that cannabis may be utilised in our national strategy.

In addition, on 10 February 2022, president Cyril Ramaphosa gave his state of the nation address, during which he highlighted the benefits that cannabis and cannabis goods production and sale would have on job creation and the South African economy. He further indicated that streamlining regulations to attract investment in the cannabis industry has the potential of creating 130 000 jobs.

However, has the smoke cleared on where we stand with cannabis regulation and integration?

The National Cannabis Master Plan

The plan focuses on four key areas of importance in respect of cannabis, namely: medicine, food, industrial and recreational. In addition, the plan identifies the following challenges that the cannabis sector may face:

  • Legislative Restrictions,
  • Negative Public Perception,
  • Barriers on Entry,
  • Lack of Formal Seed Supply Mechanisms,
  • Lack of Manufacturing Capacity,
  • Highly Fragmented Industry,
  • Limited Investment in Research and Technology Programmes,
  • The proliferation of Illegal Products,
  • Market Challenges, and
  • The threat of takeover or dominance by corporations and pharmaceutical groups.

However, the plan includes mechanisms to be implemented that will ease the transition for integrating cannabis and cannabis-related products into the national industry. This includes a greater focus on awareness and the finalisation of legislative amendments.

Cannabis For Private Purposes Bill

The Cannabis for Private Purpose Bill (B-19) 2020 [hereafter the “Bill”] was tabled after certain sections of the Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act 140 of 1992, as amended, were declared unconstitutional.

The Bill is aimed at regulating the possession, usage, and cultivation of cannabis under certain circumstances, prescribes certain limitations and provides specific key definitions.

For example, the Bill provides definitions for “personal use”, “dwelling”, “cannabis plant cultivation material”, and “cannabis plant equivalent”, amongst others, which will be instrumental in strategy and regulatory development going forward.

In addition, the Bill provides for lists and categories of offences in relation to cannabis as well as the penalties which apply.

The Bill does not make provision for the commercialisation of cannabis but does set limits for private possession and the cultivation of cannabis.


It is clear that further legislative and regulatory development is required in relation to the commercialisation of cannabis. In saying that, however, the commercialisation of cannabis appears to have overlapping requirements as well as consequences. Existing legislation such as the Medicines and Related Substances Act 101 of 1965, as amended, provide a starting point regarding the above and the usage of cannabis-related products.

At present, the legislative gap between where we are and where we want to be is rather wide in saying that; however, the Bill in conjunction with the existing legislation as well as the strategic initiatives that are underway, appears to be setting us up for the development of a healthy legal framework.

Contact an attorney at SchoemanLaw for your legal needs and the latest legal developments!