Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

S. Africa's top court legalises personal, private cannabis use

S. Africa's top court legalises personal, private cannabis use

"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".

It's been a good day for marijuana users as the Constitutional Court ruled that the private use of marijuana is now legal.

It has not yet commented on the ruling, which is binding.

As part of the judgement deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo 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 for it to amount to "personal use".

Every year, thousands of South Africans march on the streets of Cape Town demanding a relaxation of drugs laws to allow medicinal and recreational use of cannabis.

The court accepted medical studies that showed alcohol caused more harm than weed and that there was little data to show that criminalising weed reduced harmful use.

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Cannabis is referred to as "dagga" in South Africa. Dealing is still illegal. However, private use does have the go-ahead as of Tuesday 18 September.

In political terms, the landmark ruling emphasises the primacy of South Africa's constitution, which brushed aside the united opposition of numerous government ministries at a time when the authority and credibility of many of this young democracy's other institutions have been eroded by corruption and poor governance.

Key laws debated in the Western Cape High Court in 2017 were the Drugs Act sections 4 (b) and 5 (b) as well as section 22A of the Medicines Act.

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

South African opposition lawmaker Mario Oriani-Ambrosini submitted a draft law in 2014 calling for the legalisation of marijuana but he died soon after, and his initiative was shelved.

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