There have been a lot of questions regarding the legality of CBD oil in South Africa. However, before diving into the legality of Cannabidiol oil, it is important to first have an understanding of the oil. So, what is CBD oil?
Cannabidiol aka CBD oil is a product obtained from the cannabis plant. The cannabis (marijuana) plant contains various chemical compounds and the two common ones are CBD and THC. THC is responsible for creating mind-altering effects on the user, while CBD is has been found to have numerous therapeutic benefits to the user.
CBD is mainly contained in hemp, which is the least processed form of cannabis. And even though marijuana and hemp are obtained from the same plant, they are actually very different. Hemp plants contain very low levels of THC, and that is why CBD oil does not have any psychoactive effects on the user. Nonetheless, there are still some controversies regarding the use of CBD oil.
On the 31st of March 2017, the Western Cape High court made a groundbreaking ruling, stating that it has permitted the ownership, cultivation, as well as private use of marijuana or cannabis at home. Since then, nothing much has really happened. However, those with a special and keen interest in marijuana have made significant development towards seeing that doors are opened for the cultivation of medical marijuana.
The legal status of cannabis since 2017
The South African government has not yet provided an update regarding the legal status of cannabis in the country. For instance, in KwaZulu-Natal province, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development looks to embark on projects of marijuana aka “dagga” cultivation in the province but they have to wait for an update from the government concerning the legal status of cannabis. Local farmers also wish to cultivate the plant as a business venture but the national government has not yet given the go-ahead.
However, in spite of the ruling made by the Western Cape High court allowing for the private ownership, cultivation, and use of cannabis, we are aware of the fact that it is illegal to cultivate marijuana on a large scale. THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical compound of the cannabis plant known to be responsible for causing highness when inhaled or orally taken, is still not allowed. It is quite popular in CBD for recreational purposes but is highly prohibited in the law. The Cannabis Developing Council of South Africa ensures that the young generation does not get hold of marijuana for recreational needs.
The Cannabis Developing Council of South Africa was founded in October 2017 to help local farmers cultivate cannabis and to ensure their financial security. They work together with the National Hemp Foundation in managing and governing the cannabis industry in the country. Their objectives include ensuring that the international health and safety standards are being followed and that everyone has fair and equal access to high-quality marijuana but within a strong regulatory structure.
The Cannabis Developing Council of South Africa also aims to make sure that every South African is able to apply for the necessary permits to cultivate cannabis and make cannabis products within a framework of international guidance and laws. This would ensure that every South African involved in cannabis cultivation is protected from cases of foreign exploitation.
One of the key responsibilities of the CDCSA is to guarantee continuous research as well as development into the usage of sustainable methods of cultivating and using marijuana in a controlled industry. They have come up with fair controls in the cultivation of marijuana, processing of CBD oil products, and also how cannabis and its products are commercially sold. Additionally, they have organized several awareness campaigns about the cultivation, production, and usage of cannabis.
Medicines Control Council (MCC)
Now that CBD is allowed in the country, South Africa is now planning to legalize medical marijuana containing higher levels of THC. The government of South Africa introduced the process of legalizing medical marijuana with a broadcast and letter from the Medicines Control Council to Narend Singh, IFF MP. This letter is in response to a presentation made by Singh earlier this year to the council. The win is reported in Business Tech. Singh mentioned that this is great news and a huge development for freedom of choice. He also acknowledged the late IFF MP Marion Oriani-Ambrosini, who strongly supported the legalization of cannabis in parliament before his death. Recreational use of marijuana was part of his original bill but was later excluded by Singh for faster approval.
The South African Medical Association (SAMA), however, warned that strict rules and guidelines would have to be adhered to in order to get hold of legal medical cannabis. Mzukisi Grootboom, the chairman of the South African Medical Association, mentioned that healthcare practitioners ought to remember that the Medical Innovation Bill only permits marijuana for medical uses. The bill does not include the recreational use of marijuana; this is still not legal in the country.
The Medicines Control Council regulates and controls the use of drugs in the country under the Medicines and Related Substances Act. Below are some of the guidelines provided by MCC:
- If a medical practitioner wishes to prescribe unregistered drugs such as cannabis, they must first apply to the MCC and this should be under special circumstances.
- If permission is granted by MCC, the patient can use the medical cannabis product under the medical practitioner’s supervision.
- Only the registered medical practitioners are allowed to apply to MCC for permission to prescribe medical cannabis to patients.
- The council will only authorize the prescription if the doctor suggests an appropriate dose regimen as well as suitable grounds for the intended use.
- The government will oversee the medical marijuana industry and will ensure the patients’ safety by doing everything in their power.
- All cannabis products will undergo thorough quality control and security measures.
The health department of South Africa is presently working in collaboration with MCC to come up with the proper frameworks for the cultivation of medical cannabis.