FOREWORDIT'S TIME FOR REFORMThe time of complacency, and the staggering of cannabis liberation within South Africa by our government, needs to end! A recent mass action march, attended by various cannabis industry stakeholders and representatives of the CTAA, sought to echo the message and bring about a turnaround in what can only be described as the government purposefully negating the burning need for effective legislative cannabis reform.

Questions relating to any developments since the Constitutional Court handed down the 2018 memorandum to the government concerning the cannabis privacy bill have been highlighted through the initiative. While the Union Buildings were closed at the time, a memorandum was delivered and signed for by the president's office. Subsequent acknowledgement and response by the president gave assurances that work was indeed being done and considerable attention afforded to pertinent cannabis issues.

Many who supported the effort feel that regardless of the restricted attendance, it was a resounding success. South Africa has a cultural and religious history spanning centuries with cannabis. However, we seem to be on the" back foot" regarding legislative progression. Countries like the US and Thailand have gained what many see as the upper hand, despite their limited cultural heritage, compared to Africa. We should be leading the expanse of a global prerogative to free the cannabis plant, but we are simply followers.

President Biden has recently reaffirmed the initiatives underpinned by federal legislative changes that will see arrest records and pardoning of specific cannabis-related offences expunged from the record. The US now comprises several states where cannabis is legal, although arrests continue in certain non-legal conditions, specifically in the African demographic communities.

One of the messages sent through the mass action march has been voicing concerns amidst contributing factors to several issues South Africans still deal with since the inception of democracy. Our leaders need to be brave, and unfortunately, they are not! We need young, energetic leaders with the " chutzpah" to run the gauntlet! Africa is home to some of the oldest civilizations in the world; however, we remain leaderless when we consider any positive changes that have been made. Even when we put solutions on the table to expedite positive cannabis reform, it takes our lawmakers years to consider these avenues.

The message set before the presidency through the mass action march is hopefully the start of drastic legislative realignment. Without the right mindset and leadership, we will not achieve the goals we endeavour to fulfil with cannabis in SA. Foundations need to be shaken, and the time has come for bold, innovative leaders to step forward, and drive through a new future, not only for cannabis but for a proud nation.
Tebogo Tlhopane
Cannabis Trade Association Africa – CTAA