The highest court in the land, the Constitutional Court, ruled in favour of the private use of marijuana on September 18 2018. The court found that the ban on the private use and cultivation of dagga is unconstitutional.
Emotions were high when Chief Justice Zondo announced that dagga can be smoked and grown at home for private consumption. Stoners in the court room and across the country welcomed the ruling.
Although the ruling decriminalises the personal use and cultivation of cannabis for recreational consumption, the court made it clear that marijuana is not allowed to be smoked publically and that dealing it is still illegal.
Amidst uncontainable excitement, some of its key elements of the ruling have become lost in translation behind a cloud of smoke. Here are the key points of the ruling:
- Police cannot arrest individuals for the possession or the consumption of dagga in private
The ruling states that section 4(b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992 and section 22A (9) (a) (i) of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965 are “inconsistent with the right to privacy entrenched in section 14 of the Constitution and, therefore, invalid to the extent that they make the use or possession of cannabis in private by an adult person for his or her own consumption in private a criminal offence.”
- It is no longer illegal to grow dagga in a “private place for your own consumption”
The ruling says provisions of section 5(b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992 “are inconsistent with the right to privacy entrenched in section 14 of the Constitution and are therefore, constitutionally invalid to the extent that they prohibit the cultivation of cannabis by an adult in a private place for his or her personal consumption in private.”
- The operation of the above orders are suspended for two years
The court said the orders described in 1. and 2. above “is hereby suspended for a period of 24 months from the date of the handing down of this judgment to enable Parliament to rectify the constitutional defects.”
- Smoking marijuana in public is still a criminal offence
The judgement states categorically that the ruling only applies to private use of marijuana and that smoking in public is still prosecutable by law. It states that section 4(b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992 still applies. If the substance is cannabis and he or she intends to use it or is in possession thereof in private for his or her personal consumption in private then this is fine.
- No commercial marijuana cultivation
The Chief Justice made it clear that only cultivation of marijuana for private use should be allowed, ruling out growing the drug for commercial reasons. The ruling stipulates that “dealing in” cannabis may only occur as “the cultivation of cannabis by an adult in a private place for his or her personal consumption in private”.
Hopefully this has cleared up any confusion on the part of stoners and marijuana enthusiasts country wide. Happy stoning as long as it is in private! And remember: Ts and Cs do apply.
Article By Zimbeni Mphande