Court to rule on the legality of marijuana

Marsha Scott
September 19, 2018

South Africa's Constitutional Court on Tuesday decriminalised the private use of marijuana, commonly referred to as mbanje, after ruling that the ban on the private possession, consumption and private cultivation of the plant at home was unconstitutional.

"Just last week the damning statistics showed an increase of 30,981 in drug-related crime, up from 292,388 to 323,369, and this week, there is a Constitutional Court ruling that would see efforts to decrease that number hindered".

Prince says there is no truth in the misconceptions that cannabis is harmful.

"The order also makes clear that the relevant provisions are only unconstitutional to the extent that they trench upon the private use and consumption of a quantity of cannabis for personal purposes, which the legislative considers does not constitute undue harm".

The unanimous judgment decriminalises adults smoking dagga at home and growing enough marijuana for personal consumption.

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

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has upheld earlier high court judgment.

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In the meantime‚ the court specified it has granted interim relief that allows personal use at home.

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

The potential implications of the binding judgment are enormous, and unpredictable - particularly in terms of the criminal justice system, which routinely locks up thousands of overwhelmingly poor South Africans for using or dealing in small amounts of cannabis.

It suspended its order of invalidity for a period of 24 months to give Parliament an opportunity to correct the constitutional defects in the two acts.

The state additionally failed to produce any useful data to show that criminalising dagga use had led to a reduction in private usage.

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

Other reports by MaliBehiribAe

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