This time around we chat about:

  1. Cannabis and the law in South Africa. This is part one of our Q & A with Stefan Bezuidenhout an attorney specialising in Cannabis law. 
  2. We share this month’s featured product a delicious, infused, salted caramel syrup

Let us dive right into Cannabis and the Law in South Africa

It’s been THREE long years since the landmark ruling that made it legal to consume and grow cannabis within a private space. We were promised new legislation within two years, but there have been delays. Stuck with rules from three years ago that many people still do not understand, police officials are taking the grey area of the law into their own hands. In a bid to learn more ourselves and share info with you, we hosted a live Q and A with Stefan Bezuidenhout ( @attorney420 ). The chat session was so informative that we decided to summarize the best points and questions here.

Cannabis and the Law in South Africa with Stefan Bezuidenhout

Q: Can you tell us how you got into law in general and cannabis law specifically? Can you map out your journey in case anyone else wants to follow in your footsteps?

A: Yes sure, let me introduce myself, I’m Stefan Bezuidenhout, I’m an attorney of the High Court. I’ve been practising for just over 4 years now. My journey started when I studied an LLB in Potch. I never really found a specific law I was into. The law is so broad, none of us can do everything. Luckily when I graduated it was 2017 and the High Court judgement had just come out. By the time I was doing my articles, I had already touched on it but the firm I was at, at the time, was old school and conservative so there were some restrictions.

For example, when I wrote articles about it, I could not include the firm’s name, just my legal background. Luckily, this meant I got a lot of experience in the criminal department which was essentially going to connect me back to cannabis. It’s so closely related because that’s what everyone’s afraid of. You don’t want to spend millions of dollars on trying to be legal and end up in jail anyway. And these are people with families, kids, responsibilities. Sometimes the risk isn’t worth it. That’s for them to decide. 

So in 2018, luckily, when the ConCourt judgement came out, it was now more official. I needed to spread my wings at the time and decided to specialize in cannabis law. And that’s how I came across Schindler’s Attorneys. They were the first firm to drive it all the way to the constitutional court. I reached out to them and luckily we had negotiations that went very well. I joined Department for Medical and Recreational Cannabis. I gained tremendous experience and learnt the history of the Dagga Couple trial and how this whole story began. 

We noticed with the recreational side of things, being mainly the growing club and apart from that, you’ve got the licensing under Section 22, there’s not really a lot of other commercial space available currently in our little cannabis operation in South Africa. So currently I’m doing some independent legal work for The Cannabis Compliance Bureau. They’ve already done around 20 applications. So now I’m learning the pharmaceutical side and the regulatory side of things. I’m trying to hit that sweet spot in the middle of being good at the legal and the pharmaceutical side of things. Apparently, that’s what it’s going to take. I’m in the process of opening my own firm. I’m just completing the practical legal council management course. I should be done in mid-October and then hopefully from then I’ll be practising from my own firm and still doing the work that I’m doing.

(Contact Stefan via Instagram @attorney420)

Q: Besides the legal avenue, can you suggest any other careers that could funnel into the cannabis industry? We’d like people to see that there are many points of entry into this industry.

A: That’s a very good question. You always want to stay within the law on this. Especially the Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act. That’s the one that will land you in jail. So if you look at the definition of cannabis, unfortunately, it includes every part of the plant. The stem, the flower, the leaves, the bud, seeds. So you’re very restricted in the dealings of any sort of cannabis. That could even stretch as far as transportation. And that’s why courier companies are very hesitant but that’s something we’ll chat about in more detail later. 

Apart from the actual plant, you’re not really restricted at all. That’s why we can buy bongs and paraphernalia. That would be a way to at least get your foot in the door if you don’t have the funds to start a compliant growing facility, exporting medicinal cannabis. So there’s a lot of leeways, not only in the paraphernalia but also in the growing equipment. There’s so much that goes with it. And once you go to these expo’s you can actually see how many people do the indoor tents, the pots, the soil, the lighting. There’s so much more around it and interest that’s growing every day and is just going to continue to grow. 

The more you can legitimize a business, the better your chances of succeeding. Of landing the big contracts with the big licensed facilities without having to deal with cannabis in any physical way. That’s where the CCB will come in. They don’t actually handle any type of cannabis, they assist you with the pharmaceutical application for a license. Otherwise, in the recreational space, you’re very limited. That’s why the government is apprehensive. If everyone just grows and sells their own cannabis, there will be issues with standards. There may be mould all over and people may get sick. It’s still dangerous if it’s unregulated. Especially, in a third world country, like South Africa, where crime is a big concern.

If you’re thinking about going into the recreational space, I suggest you follow the case of The Haze Club. It is a private grow club that recently got busted. The entire idea behind it, I believe in. I hope they do challenge it to some degree, even if just for the court to say if you can legally grow cannabis on someone else’s behalf. They’re taking the risk that the police need to prove that all your plants are not actually yours. That could prove to be very costly. And in the meantime, equipment gets confiscated and plants destroyed. It’s a mess! The risk is not for everyone.

The Q and A with Stefan Bezuidenhout will continue in three more parts. Stay tuned to the next article…

Want to help in the fight for legalisation?

  • To donate to Field of Green for All and help the legal fight for our cannabis freedom, click here
  • For more information or any questions, contact Stefan on his Instagram handle @attorney420
  • To watch the full IG live session, check the recording on our Instagram page @greeneasy.za
  • Read more about the latest updates with regards to the proposed bill here
  • *Remember that these are proposed laws and aren’t in effect yet.

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