Victory for dagga users as ConCourt grants permission for private use

Pexels  Isabella Mendes

Pexels Isabella Mendes

The ruling follows a Western Cape High Court judgment that the possession, cultivation and use of dagga for private use was allowed.

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

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

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.

South Africa is a large source of herbal cannabis for the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

But in a unanimous judgment read by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the Constitutional Court decriminalised home consumption, saying "the use of cannabis must be for the personal consumption of the adult".

Essentially, the ConCourt has declared that the ban on private use and the cultivation of dagga within a private home or property, is unconstitutional.

Zondo said the Constitutional Court held these statutory provisions to be constitutionally invalid, to the extent indicated, because they infringed the right to privacy entrenched in Section 14 of the Constitution.

The breakthrough for South African cannabis users came just a day after United States soft drinks giant Coca-Cola confirmed it was studying the use of a key ingredient in marijuana to make "wellness beverages".

In Malawi, marijuana remains illegal. The ruling means it will not be a criminal offence for South Africans adults to use dagga in private or to grow the plant at home for private use.

Parliament now has 24 months to change the relevant sections of the Medicines Controls Act to bring it in line with the ruling.

Parliament would have to decide on this, it said.

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