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  • Writer's pictureJanet O'Donoghue


Is cannabis legal? Much confusion yet abounds as to the legal status of cannabis in South Africa. This is a simple bottom line description of the status quo:

Has the plant Cannabis sativa L. been legalised?

No. The plant remains on schedule 7 of the Medicines Act and therefore also on the schedules of the Drugs Act.

This includes all parts of the plant – flowers, seeds, leaves, roots, and stems - and all natural extracts of the plant. This means that no-one except the Director General of the Dept. of Health may acquire cannabis in South Africa (for a specific doctor for a specific patient on the basis of a Section 21 application to use untested medicine) without risking prosecution.

This means that the plant and all parts of the plant remain as tightly controlled by SAHPRA as heroin, cocaine and the most dangerous of the pharmaceutical substances.

Is the plant decriminalised for personal use?

Yes. At this stage, there is no restriction on adults personally cultivating or using cannabis for their own use in private, and no-one may be harassed for doing so unless they are infringing on other people’s rights in some way, such as smoke blowing into your neighbour’s property. Selling or buying cannabis remains totally illegal for everyone. SAHPRA are still attempting to introduce new, cannabis specific legislation and policy which will severely restrict personal use and, at the same time, totally negate the right to privacy.

Under such legislation, the police will be free to access any property, at any time, to check whether cannabis is being cultivated and used or not, and whether that use falls within the restrictions placed on personal use by such legislation. This is an unprecedented violation of the right to privacy and will affect everyone’s right to privacy, not just people who use cannabis. A right which has already been derogated (reduced or even negated) under the current state of emergency

Have cannabinoids been legalised?

Yes. Patented (synthetic) cannabinoids may be sold and bought under terms of the worldwide license granted to GW Pharmaceuticals in 2014 by the US Dept. of Health who have owned the worldwide patent on cannabinoids since 2003. US Code 135 states that no natural substance may be patented. Therefore, the US Patent and consequent licensing can only legally refer to synthetic molecules produced in a lab.

Cannabinoids are the medicinally active molecules found only in cannabis, and which are the plant equivalents of natural compounds produced by our own bodies. These compounds maintain the endo-cannabinoid system which exists throughout the bodies of humans and animals. There are many forms of patented, synthetic (not natural, pharmaceutically produced) cannabinoids now available, and most products available via pharmaceutical companies are synthetic.

Scientists have, however, over fifty years of research, failed to reproduce a safe, effective, synthetic version of the most prolific and beneficial compound in cannabis, namely THC. THC is the most prolific and the most effective cannabinoid that works throughout our endocannabinoid system, as a neuroprotectant and antioxidant, and which is thus most effective for treating most diseases. It does so synergistically with the hundreds of other compounds found naturally in cannabis by restoring the myriad functions for which the endocannabinoid system is responsible in the human body.

Since raw cannabis, natural extracts, and the plant itself cannot be patented and therefore cannot be legally licensed, by default all raw cannabis and any natural compounds or extracts produced and sold by pharmaceutical companies are as illegal as those produced and sold by any of us. However, the laws are written, implemented and enforced in accordance with international treaties created by the vested interest groups of the medical-industrial complex, via the SAHPRA council, which is where the policy decision to keep cannabis on Schedule 7 was made and is maintained on entirely false premises.

They are fully aware of this status quo and we remind them as often as possible that we know it too. Yet, they are never hesitant to create confusion around legality, so that they can get away with monopolising the plant, the medicine, and now even natural extracts, through keeping the plant illegal by keeping it on schedule 7.

This, despite the argument and evidence that we have been providing to them that cannabis (including THC) is safe, beneficial, and effective.

And that, with a little training, everyone is capable of participating in a self-regulated, personal use cannabis market as well as new, eco-friendly, cannabis industries as long as they are willing to be responsible and accountable to their communities.

What about traditional healers? Thanks to powerful political activism by many people, such as HRH the late Phephsile Maseko, who at the time was president of the Traditional Healers Organisation, the “powers that be” had to acknowledge that traditional healers cannot be excluded from trading in cannabis. Hence they made the illegal and unconstitutional declaration that cannabis will be treated as a Category 1 medicine under the Traditional Healers Act.

Does this make it legal to buy from traditional healers? It may seem to, but in reality, absolutely not. The reason for this is that there is great opposition from traditional healers to register under the Act, with good reason. Furthermore, a register with the Traditional Healers Council (under SAHPRA) did not even exist as at the end of last year when I last inquired and so in effect, no traditional healers exist legally in South Africa. Therefore, although people are trading under this premise, they are not actually doing so legally, and certainly not according to the constitutionally protected Bill of Rights, which states clearly that everyone has the right to equal benefit and protection from the law. The corrupt policy is just an attempt to exert control over traditional healers by retaining the premise for arrest and detention through the SAP.

Conclusion: SAHPRA, an independent company whose council consists of pharmacologists, and which dictates to the government on all health issues, both legislation and policy, and which is therefore effectively the actual power in the national health equation, is never, ever, ever going to relinquish control of this amazing plant that can literally resurrect our country’s economy like Lazarus from the tomb.

That would be counterproductive to the pharmaceutical vested interest agenda and would literally liberate us from the economic, medical, environmental, and mental slavery we have allowed ourselves to fall into over the past 100 years. Make no mistake, hundreds of billions of tax-payer Rands are traded between the Dept. of Health and various pharmaceutical companies annually, with the companies always massively out-benefitting the Department even though people just keep getting sicker, and facilities just keep getting worse.

The bottom line is that change that will benefit everyone and allow equal opportunity is possible, although ONLY when we, the people, abantu, the living human beings of the land, do something about it, individually and collectively. What is ultimately true is that, as living human beings, we are fundamentally, innately, free. The only way we can be enslaved and controlled is when we comply with and kowtow to the status quo, and their often ridiculous, and certainly in the case of cannabis, criminal laws, policies, and mandates.

The time has never been riper for us, the people, to simply reclaim the power we have invested in the system, by stepping up, being responsible and accountable, and simply getting on with creating a different future. SACCRA has a plan which you can read about on

SACCRA is a member association in which all members are equally responsible and accountable at community level, and in which all members benefit according to their own efforts, through which we can stand together as members and ensure that we live free from undue and unwarranted harassment and criminalisation by the combined tyranny of the police, the government, and the medical industrial complex.

Please visit the website for more information on cannabis and our plan to reclaim the power we have for so long invested in a totally corrupt, inept and outdated system of corporate government.

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