Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi recently implemented various changes to Schedules 4, 6 and 7 of the Medicines Act in relation to cannabis and its related components. Although amendments to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act remain to be seen, the recent changes to the Medicines Act are a step in the right direction and a significant contribution to the rights of adults to cultivate, possess and use cannabis in private.
On the recommendation of the South African Health Products Authority, the minister of health recently issued Government Gazette 43346, which essentially exempts, under Section 36(1) of the Medicines and Related Substances Act, the free supply of medicines, medical devices and in vitro diagnostics to the state for three years. This exemption also extends to the supply of samples to the state as part of a tender published by the state.
The National Health Insurance (NHI) scheme, which is set to come into force on 1 January 2026, will centralise the purchasing of healthcare services in a single body established by the government: the National Health Insurance Fund. The proposed link between the NHI scheme's full implementation and the arbitrary date of 1 January 2026 may be irrational considering the risk of the requisite infrastructure not being sufficiently in place by such date.
The 2020 Cannabis Bill outlines the regulations under which adults may legally cultivate, possess and use cannabis for private use and recreational purposes. The bill also groups cannabis-related offences into four categories, which each carry different penalties. Even though South African adults can legally possess significantly more grams of cannabis than adults in various other countries, the cost of exceeding these amounts is far greater.