South African court says marijuana use in private is legal

Aaron Brown
September 19, 2018

The Constitutional Court has ruled that the private cultivation, possession and consumption of cannabis is legal.

South Africans have celebrated the ruling by their constitutional court and are getting ready to grow some dagga, as they call it.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday upheld a provincial court's ruling in a case involving Gareth Prince, who advocates the decriminalization of the drug.

South Africa's government had opposed its legalisation, arguing the drug was "harmful" to people's health.

The Court was presented with sound medical evidence which showed that alcohol abuse and misuse was more damaging to individuals and families than dagga.

South Africa's top court says adults can use marijuana in private.

"It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space", deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo said in the ruling.

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The ruling comes after Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince applied to the court to decriminalise marijuana.

While illegal, marijuana is an important cash crop for rural communities, particularly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Zondo said the Constitutional Court would give parliament 24 months to correct the constitutional defects in the Drugs Act and the Medicines Act.

The order does not extend to use and possession of cannabis by a child, or by an adult in public.

At the moment, possessing, growing or using marijuana - even in small quantities - can technically lead to jail time, a fine and a criminal record.

South Africa is the third country in Africa to legalise cannabis, following Lesotho in September 2017, and in Zimbabwe in April this year.

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