DOJ says it will be unconstitutional to exclude SANDF members from private Cannabis Bill

DOJ says it will be unconstitutional to exclude SANDF members from private Cannabis Bill

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has this week indicated that it will not exclude members of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) from utilising the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill.

This, after the SANDF had reservations about the implications the bill would have for its members.

The latest private cannabis bill sentiments came out on Thursday as the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) select committee on security and justice considered the submissions received from members of the public, the Cape Times reported.

The NCOP put out the bill in December for public comment and received 46 submissions since the closing date for submissions on Friday, January 19.

According to the SANDF, if members are allowed to consume cannabis privately while in service, it could have serious consequences for the duties of members and the SANDF’s operation in general.

“The risks associated with members being under the influence of intoxicating drugs may result in injury or death to not only members, but to the greater public,” the SANDF submission read.

But the DOJ’s legal adviser, Makubela Mokulubete told the NCOP that the exclusion of SANDF members from the private cannabis bill would be unconstitutional.

Mokulubete said the bill applies to all South Africans, including active or non-active members of the SANDF, but said the bill does not require them to use cannabis on duty.

The SANDF indicated that one of its main concerns revolved around live-in quarters or official housing on its premises, which housed soldiers and their families.

It said the bill would allow members to use cannabis in these live-in quarters because they constitute a “private place”.

The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill started materialising after the Prince judgement by the Constitutional Court in 2018, which found that citizens had the right to possess and use cannabis only in private spaces.

Parliament initially missed the 24-month deadline set out by the concourt, which asked it to come up with the legislation to regulate the use of cannabis for private use.

After Parliament was granted an extension, the Bill was passed in the National Assembly last year and sent to the NCOP for deliberation.

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