Is CBD legal in South Africa?

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Understanding the Legal Status of CBD in South Africa

In the past few years, the global interest in the potential benefits of Cannabidiol (CBD) has grown exponentially. CBD, a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis plants, has been the subject of numerous studies due to its potential therapeutic effects. As a result, many countries have begun to reassess their stance on CBD, including South Africa. This article aims to shed light on the current legal status of CBD in South Africa.

The South African Health Products Regulatory Authority’s Stance

In May 2019, the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA) made a landmark decision to down-schedule some CBD products, effectively making them more accessible to the public. Prior to this, CBD was listed as a Schedule 7 substance under the Medicines and Related Substances Act, meaning it was essentially illegal to buy or sell without a prescription.

However, SAHPRA’s decision does not mean that all CBD products are now legal. The exemption only applies to CBD products that meet specific criteria.

Criteria for Legal CBD Products

  1. The product must contain a maximum daily dose of 20 milligrams of CBD.
  2. It should not claim to cure or treat any specific medical condition.
  3. The product must be made from raw cannabis plants that contain 0.3% or less of THC (the psychoactive compound in cannabis).

If a CBD product meets these criteria, it is considered a Schedule 0 substance and can be sold over the counter without a prescription. However, any product that does not meet these criteria is still considered a Schedule 4 drug, meaning it can only be sold with a prescription from a registered healthcare practitioner.

Penalties for Non-Compliance

Despite the down-scheduling of certain CBD products, it is important to note that there are still penalties for non-compliance with the regulations set out by SAHPRA. Selling CBD products that do not meet the criteria for Schedule 0 substances can result in fines and/or imprisonment. The same penalties apply for making unproven health claims about CBD products.

Traveling with CBD

If you are planning to travel to South Africa and wish to bring CBD products with you, it is essential to ensure that they meet the criteria set out by SAHPRA. It is recommended to carry documentation that clearly demonstrates this compliance. Without it, you may face penalties at customs.


In summary, while South Africa has made significant strides in making CBD more accessible, it is not a free-for-all. Only CBD products that meet specific criteria are legal to buy and sell without a prescription. Any product that does not meet these criteria is still considered a controlled substance and requires a prescription. Therefore, it is crucial for both consumers and sellers to familiarize themselves with the regulations to avoid any legal repercussions.

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