South Africa’s top court legalises private use of cannabis

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Activists held marches over the years to demand that the law be changed [File: Reuters]
South Africa’s highest court has legalised the private use of marijuana, upholding a lower court’s ruling that found the criminalisation of cannabis was unconstitutional.

In delivering the Constitutional Court’s unanimous verdict, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo on Tuesday declared the law banning marijuana use in private by adults “is unconstitutional and therefore invalid”.

“It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption,” he said in Johannesburg.

The court also ordered parliament to draft new laws within 24 months to reflect the order.

However, the judgement did not specify the amount that can be used by an adult in private use.

Activists, including members of the Rastafarian movement and traditional healers, greeted the ruling with loud applause.

Outside, pro-cannabis campaigners lit pipes and rolled joints to celebrate the news, filling the air with the distinctive aroma of marijuana.

“I’m happy I won’t be getting any more criminal records for possession,” Ruaan Wilson, 29, told AFP before pausing for a puff.

“Now, we can get police to focus on real drugs and thugs,” he added.

A court in Western Cape had ruled in March 2017 that a ban on cannabis use by adults at home was unconstitutional, a move that effectively decriminalised it in the province, which includes Cape Town.

But the ministers of justice, police, health and trade challenged that finding, arguing that there was “objective proof of the harmful effects of cannabis”.

Activists have held marches over the years to demand that the law be changed to allow people to smoke “weed”, which is called “dagga” in South Africa.

But opponents fear crime connected to drug abuse and users graduating to harder drugs.

They also cite medical research which suggests a link between heavy use of marijuana and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

The country’s Medical Research Council has already launched trials to help guarantee quality, consistency and standards, according to local media.

“We have used cannabis to treat anxiety, colic in children and as an antiseptic in secret for many years,” said Phephsile Maseko, of the Traditional Healers Organisation.

“Now we will be able to develop the plant even further.”

Previously, possessing, growing or using marijuana for personal use – even in small quantities – exposed users to fines of up to hundreds of dollars as well as jail time. Penalties for selling it were far higher.

Source :News Agencies

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18 COMMENTS

  1. Let not Zambia take their,example, south Africa is an immoral country, ranked number one criminal nation on earth. The bible says you sow the wind you shall reap whirlwind. They outs their leaders before they finish their terms.

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    • As if arm pit smelling country is moral. Please go and buy roll-on at Shoprite. Stealing donor money is moral? A country were handouts are part of the budget. At least RSA is still self sufficient. Please go to the western world with your begging bowl.

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    • Where is that dull cretin mushota who once insulted myself for calling for the legalization of cannabis. You dull animal continue to get cancer from your McDonald’s in Scotland when you are hospital bound and needing cannabis medication to reduce your pain and symptoms from brain cancer which you already suffer from then you will remember what I said. As for the rest who are in denial of the morality on legalisation stop being hypocrites when you continue to encourage alcohol a more dangerous drug that has caused more deaths from accidents, assaults, rapes and broken families then cannabis ever has. Shame on you cretins!

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    • Where is that dull cretin mushota who once insulted myself for calling for the legalization of cannabis. You dull animal continue to get cancer from your McDonald’s in Scotland when you are hospital bound and needing cannabis medication to reduce your pain and symptoms from brain cancer which you already suffer from then you will remember what I said. As for the rest who are in denial of the morality on legalisation stop being hypocrites when you continue to encourage alcohol a more dangerous drug that has caused more deaths from accidents, assaults, ra.pes and broken families then cannabis ever has. Shame on you cretins!

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  2. Medical practitioners should advise on this critical issue of dagga. In zambia it is a big offence to be even in possession of it while in South Africa, where our leaders go for treatment,it is no longer an issue.Is there any scientific proof that it is bad to take dagga? Come out in the open and say it the way you understand it as opposed to thinking the government of Zambia does not like it when the same politicians are encouraging youths to take it during campaigns. Many people in the mining industry are losing jobs for being in possession of / or taking it. How much is the acceptable dosage in the blood?

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  3. Wonder what the world new order will look like 50 years from now. Same sex relationships including marriage, normalised. Now this!!!

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  4. So LT will not publish my comments because they are in bad taste?
    I meant to say legalise the blooooooooooooody muthafuking weeeeeeeed! How about that??

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  5. Another drop in the share price.. Sinkamba was calling for Zambias prosperity through a natural plant..mwenzoseka and being hard headed. Now the supply will be much higher and the technology competition to grow it much more advanced than we can handle… Keep taxing the same thin cow of a narrow tax base while others develop.

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  6. @1.3 Stoning a mukwerekwere IS NORMAL IN SA and Zambian IS NOT EXCEPTIONAL, WHY POLUTE OUR COUNTRY with your POVERTY, RAISE UR STANDARDS OF LIVING AND STAY PUT IN UR ZAMBIA

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  7. I don’t know why some people want to compete with Tayali for of instead of being a shame to “Humanity” i.e. either Manhood or Womanhood they would rather be a shame to studit*****hood” @ Anyoko are you competing with Tayali y making such s Zynophobic statement??????

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  8. Let us legalize for MEDICINAL USE.
    Still not sure about leisure usage. For what?
    We have burned tobacco smoking in Public for health reasons including Pubs let alone dagga!
    THIS SHOULD REMAIN.

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