On Tuesday, 3 April 2023, the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services invited the public to comment on its amendments to the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill. The proposed amendment(s) seeks to broaden the scope of the Bill to include provisions relating to the commercialisation of hemp. The Bill is long overdue and the cannabis community is desperate for fair and clear regulations and the inclusion of the hemp clause comes late in the process. Therefore, it’s really important to make use of the opportunity and submit your feedback.

The inclusion of the hemp clause, enabling the commercialisation of hemp is a significant development, as hemp has numerous commercial applications, including as a source of fiber, oil, and protein. The commercialisation of hemp will create new economic opportunities and contribute to job creation, particularly in rural areas. Aside from its versatility as a material, hemp also offers numerous benefits as an agricultural product. Unlike cotton and other crops, hemp requires little water to grow and is naturally resistant to pests, reducing the need for pesticides. Additionally, hemp plants help to improve soil health by replenishing nutrients and preventing soil erosion. This makes hemp a sustainable and eco-friendly crop that can benefit both farmers and the environment.

Since October 2021, South Africa’s Department of Agriculture, Land Reform, and Rural Development has been accepting applications for permits to cultivate and trade in hemp. Those who wish to cultivate hemp must first obtain a permit from the Department of Agriculture, which requires providing detailed information on the location of the proposed cultivation, as well as a plan for the handling and disposal of any waste products. Permits are also required for the processing and sale of hemp and hemp products, which includes providing information on the source of the hemp and its intended use. The process of obtaining a permit is still relatively new, but it’s an important step forward in creating a more regulated and sustainable industry for hemp in South Africa.

The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill has been a long-awaited piece of legislation, and the recent proposal to broaden the scope of the bill to include the hemp clause has brought much excitement (and definitely some dismay) to the industry. The regulations discussed in the Bill may relate to licensing, the types of products that may be produced or sold, as well as the standards that must be met to ensure the safety and quality of the products.

If you are a stakeholder or interested party, you are invited to submit written submissions on the proposed amendments to the hemp clause of Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill [B19-2020]. Submissions must be received no later than 28 April 2023, and you may indicate your interest in making a verbal presentation. Enquiries can be directed to Mr V Ramaano, and submissions must be emailed to cannabisbill@parliament.gov.za. As a stakeholder, be sure to make your voice heard!

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