The marketing and selling of cannabis products remains illegal, the medicines regulator and police have warned, except for specific conditions permitted under the Medicines and Related Substances Act.

BusinessLIVE says businesses are cashing in on consumer demand for medical cannabis products, bolstered by a Constitutional Court ruling in 2018 that effectively allows adults to possess or cultivate cannabis for their own use in private.

However, in a joint statement issued yesterday, the SA Health Products Regulatory Authority (Sahpra) and the SAPS said using cannabis in public remained illegal, and that dealing in cannabis remained a serious offence in terms of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act.

They also drew attention to the regulatory framework for medicinal cannabis products, which makes a distinction between products with low concentrations of the key active ingredients in cannabis and those with higher levels of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Products containing less than 20mg of CBD per day are exempted from the Medicine Act's requirement that they be registered as a medicine with Sahpra before they can be marketed or sold in SA, in line with an exclusion notice published by the Minister of Health in May.

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. Higher dose products require registration with Sahpra.

Full BusinessLIVE report

The sale and disbursement of cannabis is only allowed in terms of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, notes a report in The Star. According to Unisa criminology professor Anni Hesselink, SA is the largest market for illicit drugs in sub-Saharan Africa and serves as a trans-shipment point for drugs to Europe, including cannabis.

Hesselink said that, legally speaking, no one could manufacture dagga products or sell dagga that wasn’t registered with the regulator.

SAPS said yesterday that some illegal businesses were also being sold as franchises. They purport to be operating legally in terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act. The police said dealing in dagga was still a serious criminal offence in terms of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act.

The SAPS said it was mandated to act, and would do so, not only against businesses that sold cannabis illegally, but against the customers who bought these products.

Full report in The Star (subscription needed)