See the full media release below:
Warning: SAPS warns that dealing in cannabis is still illegal
For immediate release
Joint media statement issued by the South African Police Service and the
South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA)
Pretoria: 4 November 2019 - The South African Police Service is issuing a stern
warning that the establishment of illegal dispensaries/outlets, online sites and social
media platforms which are marketing and selling cannabis and cannabis-related
products to the public remains illegal, except where specifically allowed in terms of
the Medicines and Related Substances Act.
Some of these illegal businesses, purporting to be operating legally in terms of the
Traditional Health Practitioners Act (No. 22 of 2007), are also being sold to members
of the public as franchises authorised to deal in cannabis and cannabis-related
products. In terms of the Traditional Health Practitioners Act, the definition of
“traditional medicine” means an object or substance used in traditional health
practice for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of a physical or mental illness or
any curative or therapeutic purpose, including the maintenance or restoration of
physical or mental health or well-being in human beings but does not include a
dependence-producing or dangerous substance or drug”. As a result, the Traditional
Health Practitioners Act does not create a mechanism to sell cannabis and cannabis-
related products that are not exempted in terms of the Medicines Act.
The public is once again reminded of the effect of the Constitutional Court judgment
in Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others v Prince: National
Director of Public Prosecutions and Others v Rubin: National Director of Public
Prosecutions and Others v Acton and Others  SACC 30, handed down on 18
September 2018. The effect of the the judgment is that only an adult person (18
years and older) may use, possess or cultivate cannabis in private for his or her
personal consumption in private. The use, including smoking, of cannabis in public or
in the presence of children or in the presence of non-consenting adult persons is not
allowed. The use or possession of cannabis in private other than by an adult for his
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or her personal consumption is also not permitted.
Dealing in cannabis remains a serious criminal offence in terms of the Drugs and
Drug Trafficking Act (No 140 of 199)2. The definition of dealing is made very clear in
the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, which currently reads (with the words “read in”
by the Constitutional Court): “in relation to a drug, includes performing any act in
connection with the transhipment, importation, cultivation other than the cultivation of
cannabis by an adult in a private place for his or her personal consumption in private,
collection, manufacture, supply, prescription, administration, sale, transmission or
exportation of the drug”.
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
(Act 101 of 1965) (the Medicines Act), 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 in accordance
with 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
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businesses that sell cannabis illegally, but also against the customers who buy these
Members of the public are encouraged to download the MySAPSApp on any iPhone
or android to have easy access to the police to, among others, provide tip-offs or one
may to report any information relating to the sale of cannabis to the SAPS through
the SAPS Crime Stop number 086 00 10111. Callers may remain anonymous and all
information will be treated in the strictest confidence.
Ms Portia Nkambule
012 842 7582/7583
012 842 7628
066 1202 669
SAPS - Brigadier Vishnu Naidoo – 082 567 4153
SAHPRA is tasked with regulating (monitoring, evaluating, investigating, inspecting and
registering) all health products and clinical trials in South Africa. Health products include
complementary medicines, medical devices and in vitro diagnostics (IVDs). SAHPRA also has
the responsibility of overseeing radiation control in South Africa. SAHPRA’s mandate is
outlined in the Medicines and Related Substances Act (Act 101 of 1965 as amended) as well
as the Hazardous Substances Act (Act No 15 of 1973).
SAHPRA has three pillars to ensure that medicines, medical devices and IVDs meet the
requisite standards to protect the health and well-being of South Africans:
It is these three pillars that define the ethos of SAHPRA.