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Cannabis, the exclusions…

Michele du Plessis

Cannabis (the whole plant or parts or products thereof) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) (the psychoactive substance that gives one a “high”) are currently listed as Schedule 7 substances in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, 1965, except when present in processed hemp fibre and products containing not more than 0,1 % of THC in a form not suitable for ingestion, smoking or inhaling purposes; or when present in processed products made from cannabis seed containing not more than 0,001 % of THC; or when used for medicinal purposes.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is listed as a Schedule 4 substance. Certain CBD-containing preparations have been excluded from the operation of the Schedules by the Minister of Health for a time-limited period, as per an exclusion notice (R.756) published in Government Gazette No. 42477 on 23 May 2019.


  • CBD-containing preparations for medicinal use are excluded when they contain a maximum daily dose of 20 mg of CBD with an accepted low-risk claim or health claims, without referring to any specific disease.
  • CBD-containing processed products are also excluded when the naturally occurring quantity of CBD and THC contained in the product does not exceed 0,0075 % and 0,001 %, of CBD and THC respectively.
  • Any CBD-containing products that are outside the parameters of the exclusion notice are subject to the provisions of the Schedules and registration as a medicine.
  • Any person who imports or manufactures a CBD-containing medicine following the exclusion notice must still be in possession of a licence issued in terms of section 22C(1)(b) of the Medicines Act and comply with any relevant standards, including current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) standards. Such persons must be able to present verified assessment by an accredited laboratory of the CBD and/or THC content of any product or medicine when requested.
  • The South African Police Service is mandated to and will act, not only against businesses that sell cannabis illegally but also against the customers who buy these products.

Until the government outlines definite protocol regarding quantity and quality, police officers are forced to apply reason to the scenario, according to The South African.

“If a police officer finds a person in possession of cannabis and he or she thinks it is not for personal consumption, he or she will ask the person such questions as may be necessary to satisfy himself or herself whether the cannabis he or she is in possession of is for personal consumption.

If having heard what the person has to say, the police officer thinks that the explanation is not satisfactory, he or she may arrest the person. Ultimately, it will be the court that will decide whether the person possessed the cannabis for personal consumption,” Judge Zondo said.

According to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992, anything under 115 grams can be successfully argued as being possessed for ‘personal use’. But a far lesser amount could likely lead to suspicion and possible arrest if found in one’s possession in public.

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