Whenever laws change, it’s important for business to know what the implications are for them and their industry. Recent changes to the Cannabis and drug policy laws of South Africa could prove confusing to employers across all sectors and industries.
In September 2018, the Constitutional Court ruling legalised the personal use and cultivation of Cannabis and gave the South African government 24 months to amend the country’s Cannabis and drug laws.
Cabinet recently approved the submission to Parliament of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill of 2020, and while it may not be immediately apparent how this may impact businesses, it will certainly have implications, says Sanet Vos, Head of Product at Sabinet.
“Employers may have to reconsider how, in the workplace, they deal with the effects of personal Cannabis use. Most employers have policies in place around drug and alcohol use in the workplace. The legalization of personal Cannabis consumption may require amendments to these policies that are in line with other legislation, such as the Employment Equity Act or even the Occupational Health and Safety Act, for instance. You can see how quickly changes to one piece of legislation can impact other laws down the line.;
The draft bill regulates the use and possession of Cannabis and the cultivation of Cannabis plants by an adult – defined as someone over the age of 18 – for personal use. According to the bill, while it’s illegal to smoke Cannabis in public places, adults may have up to 600g of dried Cannabis at home for their personal use. If the household comprises two or more adults, they may have 1.2kg of dried Cannabis for personal consumption.
In addition, adults may have an unlimited number of seeds and seedlings at home and four flowering plants, if they live alone, or eight plants if there are two or more adults in the household. An adult may, for personal use, possess 100g of dry Cannabis or one flowering plant in a public space. This means they may have it in their vehicle, on their person or in a handbag, explains Sanet Vos.
The draft legislation also permits an adult to provide another adult – at no cost – with 100g of dried Cannabis or 30 seeds for their personal consumption. It’s still illegal to sell dried Cannabis, Cannabis plants or Cannabis seeds.
The bill proposes maximum jail time of 15 years for anyone who deals in Cannabis or provides it to someone under the age of 18. It also criminalises smoking Cannabis in public (this includes too close to a window) or in the presence of non-consenting adults, with an associated jail term of up to two years, while anyone smoking around children could face as much as four years imprisonment.
The bill still has to face parliamentary consideration and a public consultation process before being signed into law. While the proposed amendments contained in the Bill are clear, says Sanet Vos, employers across all industries will require clarity on how they may still lawfully enforce their existing policies around drug abuse.
She says technology is able to assist in the form of a customised monitoring service that is able to alert businesses in different industries about the impact that these changes in legislation will have on their specific industry. “An early-warning service that would notify the business of any policy and legislation impacted by changes to a single piece of proposed and commenced legislation. Clients are informed when they should comment on certain changes in legislation as well as when these changes took place. This would help businesses stay current with the latest legislation as well as the potential impacts of not being compliant with the law.
Click here to find out more about Cannabis-related legislation and the impact on your business.
Written for Sabinet by ITWeb