South Africa: Legalisation of dagga opens a crack in the wall

It was with a measure of surprise I received word that the Medicines Control Council (MCC) declared a desire to reschedule cannabis from a schedule 7 to schedule 6 drug this week during portfolio hearings in Parliament on the Medical Innovation Bill (MIB).

Looking at the big picture of the last apartheid laws still left in place (the 1992 Drugs & Drug Trafficking Act and the 1965 Medicines Control Act), the rescheduling of anything is a seismic step from a policy that has been enthusiastically and heavily policed for a hundred years. 

By reducing dagga from a schedule 7 to a schedule 6 drug, a couple of words were taken out of the equation. Schedule 7 describes dagga as having no medical use with an “extremely high potential for abuse or dependence”. Schedule 6 claims only a “high potential for abuse or dependence”.

Getting rid of the “extreme” bit opens the law...

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