Warning: SAPS warns that dealing in cannabis is still illegal

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 [2018] 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.

Issued by:

Ms Portia Nkambule

012 842 7582/7583


Media Contact:

Yuven Gounden

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:

 Safety

 Efficacy

 Quality

It is these three pillars that define the ethos of SAHPRA.

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