September 18, 2018
South Africa Officially Decriminalizes The Use Of Marijuana

The South African Constitutional Court has ruled that it is legal to cultivate and consume marijuana for personal use.

As reported by News24, the decision was originally made in 2017 in the Western Cape High Court that the possession, use, and cultivation in small amounts is legal, but the state insisted on appealing the decision. They argued that it "was not in line with the values of South Africans."

However, today the decision was upheld in the highest court in the country, the Constitutional Court. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made the announcement.

"The right to privacy is not confined to a home or private dwelling. It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space. The judgment does not specify how many grams of cannabis can a person use or have in private."
The 2017 decision declared "sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act invalid and unconstitutional." Lawyer Gareth Prince "argued that the criminalization of marijuana use and possession was a violation of the right to equality, dignity, and freedom of religion."

After the Western Cape ruling, the court decided in the interim period before the Constitutional Court could come to their decision, "prosecutions for personal weed possession as described in its judgment should be stayed."

The latest ruling means that adults within their own homes can use the drug and are legally allowed to grow their own product, which allows users to avoid the risk of contamination of product they buy from dealers. Users will be in charge of the crop that they grow but are limited to amounts that are for personal use.

Public Eye Maritzburg also reminded users that it is still illegal to use the drug in public spaces and must be limited to use inside personal residences. While no specific limit to the amount that is legally allowed to be grown for personal use has as yet been provided, large quantities will still be considered for distribution, which remains illegal. Parliament is left to decide how much is allowed to be used, possessed, or cultivated.

If a police officer finds quantities on a person, it is at the discretion of the officer to decide at what point the quantity is too large to be considered for personal use. If the officer takes the view that the person is dealing the drug, they may be arrested on the spot.