Parliament’s Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee has invited the public to comment on the New Drugs and Drug Trafficking Amendment Bill of 2022, but says all submissions must be in by 16 September 2022.
Brett Hilton-Barber/Cannabiz Africa
5 September 2022 at 12:00:00
The Justice and Correctional Services Portfoio Committee decided on Friday, 2 September 2022 that it would open up the controversial Drugs and Drug Trafficking Amendment Bill of 2022 for public comment but that it would shrink the time available from three to two weeks. This is in order to try and get the Bill into law within the deadline given to Parliament by Concourt which found the bill to be constitutionally defective. The two year deadline lapses in December 2020 – and public hearings will take place once comment has been received before MP’s can draft the final Bill.
Now the public has just 12 days to comment on what is one of the country’s most profound pieces of legislation given the alarming increase in substance abuse, particularly among youngsters, and Government’s stated desire to regulate the commercial trade in cannabis. Given the explosion of new synthetic drug compounds into the illegal market in recent years, MP’s wanted to know how comprehensive the list was, and were alarmed to hear that there had been no input into the Ammendment by either SAHPRA or the Department of Health.
They were even more alarmed by the consequences of not getting the Bill passed in time as that could theoretically open up the way for legal dealing in certain hard drugs by the middle of December.
There were over 2 300 submissions to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill which is still due to be retabled in Parliament and passed into law this year. This Bill is two years overdue it’s original Concourt deadline.
State lawmakers are not thinking straight and need your help. Please read the new Drug Trafficking Amendments HERE and then mail your considered comments to the Committee secretary, V Ramaano at Drugsbill@parliament.gov.za by no later than the close of business on Friday, 16 September 2022.
The most controversial aspect to the Amendment is the continued criminalization of cannabis and cannabis-related substances in Schedule 2 of the proposed Act. This has been identified by Government and private sector stakeholders as the biggest impediment to enabling a regulated cannabis economy to get off the ground. What’s even more astounding is that state regulators had dropped cannabis from Schedule 2 in their early deliberations, and then re-inserted it in order to “maintain the status quo”.
Deputy Justice Minister John Jeffrey says he’s taken up the matter with the DoJ’s Director General as he revealed that he had no authority over state law drafters and was uncertain as to whose instruction they were taking.
The other disturbing part of the new Bill is that MP’s admitted they had no idea what many of the substances listed in the Schedules actually were. One MP asked whether the Ministry of Health had made any input as to what drugs it wanted included or excluded to which Jeffery said that he believed the last time Health gave any input was in 1992 when the original Drugs Trafficking Act was passed.
The 1992 Act was used by Judge Hayley Slinger of the Western Cape High Court in dismissing the Haze Club’s application to have the legality of private grow clubs recognized. Judge Slinger was of the view that while the Drugs Act was in place, the grow club model was illegal until such time as Parliament passed new laws enabling this.
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