South African publication says South Africa should go back to the drawing board with its proposed cannabis regulations as the current iteration doesn’t reach muster.

Here’s the introduction to their op-ed

The proposed Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill of 2020 sparked debates around how cannabis should be regulated, but there is strong consensus that the proposed bill is inadequate.

In President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 2020 State of the Nation Address, he said that “this year we will open up and regulate the commercial use of hemp products, providing opportunities for small-scale farmers; and formulate policy on the use of cannabis products for medicinal purposes, to build this industry in line with global trends”.

The proposed bill was passed by Cabinet in August, and will be deliberated in Parliament during 2021. However, it does not align with the objectives Ramaphosa outlined. To the contrary, the bill seems to move against global trends as it ignores any commercial opportunities for cannabis, never mind that it also fails to accommodate its medicinal uses.

The draft of a bill is an essential first step towards legalisation, but upon reflection, this bill is problematic for various reasons.

First, it is unreasonably punitive in the punishments for those who exceed the quantities of cannabis allowed for private use.

Second, it perpetuates forms of discrimination against poorer people by limiting cannabis production and use by those who don’t own private land and live in larger households.

Third, it will probably cause infringements of citizens’ rights to privacy, because enforcing the bill will require plant counting and other monitoring in people’s homes.

The larger underlying problem is that the bill was not drafted based on research. It is not based on any evidence-based calculation of the relative harms of infringing freedoms of what we do in private, versus the potential harms of cannabis production and use. It does not show an understanding of the established production, distribution and use of cannabis.

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