Private use of marijuana not a criminal offense

18 September, 2018, 16:15 | Author: Myra Gill
  • South Africa’s Constitutional Court has ruled that personal use of marijuana is not a criminal offence

The Constitutional Court dispensed with the High Court's limitation of its order to the use, cultivation or possession of cannabis at home or in private dwelling.

In the meantime‚ the court specified it has granted interim relief that allows personal use at home. But several government ministries - the justice, police, health and trade - challenged the ruling.

According to a report by News24, the 2017 ruling allows for the possession, cultivation, and use of dagga at home for private use.

Parliament is now expected to amend the laws that criminalise cannabis following the court ruling.

It has been a long journey for Garreth Prince, one of the applicants in the matter, who began his fight against the criminalisation of cannabis over two decades ago, arguing that it was inconsistent with his constitutional freedom of religion as a Rastafarian.

In his judgment, Zondo said that it would at the discretion of the police officer to determine if an individual carrying cannabis outside of home was using it for personal and private consumption or for dealing. We still believe there are over 600 arrests for cannabis use.

Zondo ACJ took the view that it should be left to Parliament to decide on the quantity of cannabis that an adult person may use, possess or cultivate in order for it to amount to "personal use".

Cannabis is referred to as "dagga" in South Africa.

"The judgment does not specify how many grams of cannabis can a person use or have in private".

Parliament will have to determine what quantity of cannabis may be used for private consumption or cultivation. They also cite medical research which suggests a link between heavy use of marijuana and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.


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