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Tito Mboweni’s dagga patch is legal – but he could be in trouble if all his plants flower

Business Insider SA
Tito Mboweni's weed
Detail from one of the photos finance minister Tito Mboweni posted.
  • Twitter sensation and finance minister Tito Mboweni posted photos of a patch of cannabis he is growing.
  • "Growing weed legally!!" he said, followed by three see-no-evil monkey emoticons.
  • Under a draft law that seeks to regulate the private growing of dagga in South Africa, his patch would indeed be legal.
  • But if all his now-tended plants were to mature, Mboweni would be a marijuana outlaw if that Bill were to pass.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.


* This article was updated after Mboweni's tweet was deleted, to note that change and replace an embedded version of the tweet with a screenshot.

Twitter cooking sensation and South African finance minister Tito Mboweni is no longer just growing accidental dagga.

On Tuesday he posted photos of what appears to be tended marijuana plants, covered by shade cloth – and claimed them as his own.

"Growing weed legally!!" he said, followed by three see-no-evil monkey emoticons, in a tweet since deleted.

Tito Mboweni's deleted tweet
A screenshot of the now-deleted tweet.

That is a departure from the huge "accidental" cannabis plant he has previously shown to the world.

See also | Tito Mboweni's giant, 'accidental' dagga plant is doing well – but not so well as to be illegal yet

Mboweni has been a staunch proponent of commercialising dagga production in South Africa, and the tax revenue that could generate, since well before the coronavirus helped lay waste to South Africa's national accounts.

But under upcoming legislation, Mboweni's currently-legal patch could be trouble, his photos suggest.

The Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill, published in August, seeks to set out the exact limits on how much dagga it would take to go beyond personal use and into the realm of dealing, which would remain criminal.

See also | It’s official: Cabinet wants to let you have 1.2kg of dagga at home – if you don’t live alone

That draft law sets no limit on the number of seeds or seedlings South Africans will be able to hold, and Mboweni's field appears to consist entirely of seedlings and immature plants.

But he has rather a lot of small plants – well over the proposed legal limit should they reach adulthood.

Tito Mboweni's miniature cannabis plantation
A colour-manipulated version of the photo finance minister Tito Mboweni posted of his dagga patch, to better show individual plants.

The cannabis bill sets a limit of four flowering plants for those who live by themselves, or eight for any home of two adults or more.

There is no exception for farmers, gentleman or otherwise, or for Cabinet ministers.

Under that draft law, the maximum jail term for dealing in dagga is 15 years.

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