The South African government has proposed a new set of rules for cannabis, which will be implemented from February 2019. The proposals include the age limit being raised to 25 years old and a ban on driving while under the influence of cannabis.



The Department of Health has endorsed the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, but has cautioned that certain health and safety concerns must be addressed.

The department said in a presentation to parliament on Tuesday (August 24) that the legislative decision to decriminalize cannabis for personal use is right.

It said that locking up cannabis users, giving them a criminal record, and wasting state resources are not acceptable from a human rights standpoint.

The proposed draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, however, does not go far enough in addressing concerns about minors, second-hand smoking, and the effect on road users, according to the group.

“While the law addresses the need to safeguard minors under the age of 18, it does not explicitly refer to teenagers and does not go far enough to prevent adolescents from access to and exposure to cannabis,” it said.

“It should state, among other things, that anybody providing or selling cannabis to someone under the age of 18 or failing to prevent a child or adolescent from obtaining cannabis should be prosecuted with a Class A offense.”

According to the department, this should be considered a minor infraction.

People who do not use cannabis are also at danger of being exposed to secondhand cannabis smoke, according to the agency.

“Specifying a distance, whether within or outside, may be useful. The bill’s goal is to make smoking more private, because smoking in the presence of children and teenagers, as well as non-consenting adults, cannot be considered private.”

The agency also cautioned that cannabis usage impairs perceptual motor function, increasing the risk of car accidents.

“The law addresses this to some degree by modifying the National Road Traffic Act, but more attention and resources should be focused on educating and equipping police to identify cannabis-impaired driving and punishing impaired drivers.”


Cannabis for personal use 

In September 2020, the government released a draft Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill for public feedback.

The draft law lays out regulations for cannabis users at home as well as those who want to grow the plant. It also adds additional penalties and procedures for individuals who have previously been convicted of cannabis possession.

According to the proposed law, an adult may, for personal use:

  • Have the required amount of cannabis plant growing material on hand;
  • Grow the required number of cannabis plants in a secluded location;
  • In a public location, possess the permitted amount of cannabis in private;
  • Possess the required amount of cannabis in a private location;
  • In a public area, possess the authorized amount of cannabis plants in private.

A ‘private location,’ according to the law, is any structure, house, room, shed, hut, tent, mobile home, caravan, boat, or land, or any part thereof, to which the public has no right of access.

The proposed law further says that an adult person may give or receive for personal use from another adult person, without exchange of payment, the specified amount of:

  • Plant material for cannabis production;
  • Marijuana plants;
  • Cannabis.

For both personal use and cultivation, the proposed law specifies “prescribed amounts.”

The following are the restrictions for personal use:

  • Seeds and seedlings indefinitely;
  • If you live alone, you’ll need four blooming plants, and if you have two or more adults, you’ll need eight.
  • If you reside alone, you may have 600 grams of dried cannabis, or 1.2 kilos if you live with two or more people.
  • Per residence with two or more adult occupants, 1.2 kg dried cannabis or cannabis equivalent.

The law also allows for the ‘private’ possession of cannabis in a public location, but only up to 100 grams.

The draft law defines ‘in private’ as keeping, storing, transporting, or controlling cannabis or a cannabis plant in a way that keeps it hidden from public view.

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