South Africa has just officially changed its legal rules on cannabidiol or CBD – a compound derived from cannabis which is known for having medicinal properties, such as treating muscle pain and helping to manage cancer patients’ symptoms – and the shift is drastic.
For the next year, products containing CBD will not fall under the scheduling system that controls drugs in South Africa. This exemption was gazetted by health minister Dr Pakishe Aaron Motsoaledi this past week.
This gazette makes it officially legal for anyone, be they a registered pharmacist or a marijuana advocate, to sell any product or concoction containing CBD without needing a prescription from the buyer.
This new exemption is a significant change to the original restrictions of dagga-derived medicine in South Africa, which only allowed a select number of registered people or companies legal access to sell and make such products.
CBD forms part of cannabis but is not psychoactive or habit-forming, and has not been connected with any negative or dangerous side-effects.
Many studies have been done on CBD, and although none are conclusive, all suggest that CBD actively and effectively treats symptoms of everything from anxiety and insomnia to chronic pain and seizures.
The exemption comes with two conditions, however; firstly there is a maximum of 20 milligrams or less daily dose of CBD allowed, and CBD products cannot be advertised as a cure or treatment for any specific condition, but only as a way to relieve minor symptoms or for general health maintenance.
Alternatively, manufacturers and retailers can also claim the protection of the exemption for products made “from cannabis raw plant material and processed products”, as long as no extra CBD is added and the final product contains only a tiny fraction of CBD (0.0075%) and a maximum of 0.001% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main psychoactive in marijuana.
Unless renewed, the exemption will expire on May 15 2020.
If you have had a previous arrest or issue related to selling or buying cannabis or CBD, you can find legal help here.