Cannabis Possession and Private Cultivation Legalized in South Africa

Published on: 

The Cannabis for Private Purposes Act legalizes cannabis for adults while prohibiting public consumption, sales, and detailing measures for protecting children.

On May 28, 2024, South African president Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Cannabis for Private Purposes Act, which legalized the possession and private cultivation of cannabis for anyone 18 years old and older, though sales remain illegal (1,2). Additionally, the Act outlines what is considered criminal activity, such as possession or consumption of cannabis in a public place or while in a vehicle on a public road, plus the conditions for expungement of prior convictions related to cannabis possession or use (2).

As stated in the Act, its purpose is to (2):

  • respect the right to privacy of an adult person to possess cannabis plant cultivation material; to cultivate a prescribed quantity of cannabis plants; to possess a prescribed quantity of cannabis; and to smoke and consume cannabis;
  • regulate the possession of cannabis plant cultivation material; the cultivation of cannabis plants; the possession of cannabis; and the smoking and consumption of cannabis by an adult person;
  • protect adults and children against the harms of cannabis;
  • provide for the expungement of criminal records of persons convicted of possession or use of cannabis;
  • delete and amend provisions of certain laws; and
  • provide for matters connected therewith.

A press release from President Ramaphosa dated May 28, 2024, further defined the intent of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Act (CfPPA) (3). “The consequent regulatory reform enabled by the CfPPA will, amongst others, entirely remove cannabis from the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act,” the release stated. “This will further enable amendment of the Schedules to the Medicines and Related Substances Act and provide for targeted regulatory reform of the Plant Breeders Rights Act and the Plant Improvement Act, as well as other pieces of legislation that require amendment to allow for the industrialisation of the cannabis sector.”

Both the Act and the press release highlighted the actions being taken to protect children from cannabis. Section 6 of the CfPPA outlined responsibilities of a guardian in regard to activities involving cannabis (2). Additionally, “The Bill further guides the medically prescribed administration of cannabis to a child while also protecting children from undue exposure to cannabis,” the press release explained (3). “It provides for an alternative manner by which to address the issue of the prohibited use, possession of, or dealing in, cannabis by children, with due regard to the best interest of the child. It also prohibit the dealing in cannabis.”

In 2023, National Geographic explored the many global locations that could become destinations for foreign visitors to consume cannabis, considering the so-called decline of the Netherlands as the most popular destination for cannabis tourism for the past 40 years. South Africa made the list, private use having been legal in the country since 2018 with various tourism opportunities reportedly on the rise. Other countries that had made the list included Thailand, which recently imposed new restrictions on recreational cannabis, and Germany, which legalized recreational cannabis earlier this year.

Additionally, ASTM International will hold its two-day conference, “Overcoming Barriers to Entry in Cannabis Industries: Views from Around the World” in Cape Town, South Africa in January 2025, organized by ASTM Committee D37 on Cannabis.


  1. Sabaghi, D. South Africa Legalizes Cannabis For Personal Use, (accessed June 3, 2024).
  2. CANNABIS FOR PRIVATE PURPOSES BILL, Parliament of the Republic of South Africa, (accessed June 3, 2024).
  3. President Assents to the Cannabis Private Purposes Bill. The Presidency of the Republic of South Africa, May 28, 2024. (accessed June 3, 2024).