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Over a thousand cannabis activists staged a protest outside Cape Town’s National Legislature on Saturday where they handed over a memorandum of demand to a representative from the Justice Minister while all around were smoking joints!

The Cannabis March Society convened outside South Africa’s Parliament in Cape Town on Saturday, 6 May 2023, to call for an end on restrictions to cannabis consumption.

Organizers said they felt “disrespected” as they sat for two hours waiting for a Justice Ministry representative to receive their official demands, which basically centre around the decriminalization of the plant. Although there was a police presence amidst hundreds of people smoking cannabis, no arrests were made and the protest unfolded peacefully.

Protest convenor David Smith told Eyewitness News they protest outside Parliament every year making the same list of demands but to no avail.
“Technically, by law, it hasn’t been legalised. It’s still in the courts, in Parliament. It’s been decriminalised in inverted commas, but it actually hasn’t been legalised.”

Protestors were openly smoking cannabis in full view of police, but no arrests were made.

In 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that the private use of cannabis between consenting adults in a private space was legal. However, four years later, Parliament has not enacted enabling legislation, as ordered to do so by the Court, which has created stakeholder frustration.

The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill has been reworked over and over again with Parliament having received the latest submissions on 28 April 2023.
It is likely to be passed into law this year but will fall short of the expectations of most activists in that it still is highly prohibitionist.

Although it has a section allowing for the future trade in cannabis and related products, such trade right is still punishable by severe jail sentences.

By Melikhaya Zagagana, EyeWitness News with Cannabiz Africa