The Legalization of CBD in South Africa

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The Legalization of CBD in South Africa
The Legalization of CBD in South Africa

In May 2019, the South African health minister put out an official gazette notice decriminalizing CBD (Cannabidiol). This was not a permanent policy change since the notice is in effect for one year, with CBD’s legal status expiring in May 2020 – barring any further extensions. This was good news for pro-CBD activists who had been pushing for legalization after numerous research studies showed that CBD has a wide range of health benefits. 

So, what are the exact terms regulating CBD’s new legal status? This is what we shall be covering in this piece, as well as the impact this will have on South Africa’s long-term policy regarding marijuana. 

CBD’s Legal Status in South Africa

CBD is the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana (THC is responsible for the mind-altering effects). Research has shown that it is not only non-addictive, but it also offers an impressively diverse range of health benefits. The gazette notice changed CBD’s classification from a Schedule 7 substance (similar classification to heroin) to a schedule 4 substance (similar to prescription medication such as antibiotics). 

What stood out, however, was the stipulation that under special circumstances, CBD can be sold without any prescription or regulatory oversight. To be able to buy or sell CBD products ‘over the counter’ without a prescription, three requirements must be met. First, the product must not have a daily dosage exceeding 20 milligrams of CBD. Second, if made from raw cannabis, CBD content must not exceed 0.0075% and THC must not exceed 0.001%. Finally, such a product must not be advertised as relief or cure for diseases or medical disorders.   

Where would you be able to buy CBD products?

What the law has done is to divide CBD products into two broad categories: those regulated as schedule 4 substances and those that can be traded outside this regulatory framework. 

If a product meets the exemption requirements listed in the previous section, then they can be sold by any retailer, not just pharmacies. 

Products whose high CBD content rules them out from the exemption have to be sold like any other schedule 4 prescription medication. A valid physician prescription is required and their sale has to occur at registered pharmacies. CBD may be legal, but buying prescription-grade CBD products outside the regulatory framework is illegal, and can attract jail time. 

What does this mean for Marijuana’s legal status in South Africa?  

The legal status of Marijuana in South Africa is a bit complicated. It is legal to grow and consume your own marijuana recreationally, but its sale is still illegal. The decriminalization of CBD is the first policy framework that has made it legal to buy and sell a product derived from the cannabis plant. 

The push to allow the commercialization of the cannabis industry can be given a boost if the CBD market thrives. The South African Agricultural Business Chamber has already lent its voice to the cause, citing the opportunities for exporting Cannabis to North American territories that have legalized its recreational use.  

Information supplied by Cibdol, manufactures of the highest quality, 100% natural CBD oils made from prime European hemp Cibdol legally. 

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