South African court rules cannabis is LEGAL when used ‘in private’

South African court rules cannabis is LEGAL when used ‘in private’

  • South Africa’s highest court on Tuesday allowed the private use of marijuana 
  • Activists including traditional healers greeted the ruling with loud applause 
  • Some government departments oppose legalisation and warn of harmful effects

South Africa’s highest court on Tuesday allowed the private use of marijuana, upholding a lower court’s ruling that found the criminalisation of cannabis was unconstitutional.

Activists who include members of the Rastafarian movement and traditional healers greeted the ruling with loud applause. 

They 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.

Members of the African Democratic Change political party sing outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday after South Africa’s highest court on Tuesday allowed the private use of marijuana

Several government departments, including the health and justice ministries, oppose its legalisation and warn of harmful effects.

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’. 


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The ruling also approved growing marijuana for personal consumption.

Rastafarian Garreth Prince and former Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton brought the case asking the High Court to allow for the home use of marijuana.

People celebrate after South Africa’s top court ruled that personal cannabis use is legal

A man holds a sign reading ‘Dagga is my right’ outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg on Tuesday

Jules Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, known as the ‘Dagga Couple’, joined the case, and asked the court to strike down laws banning the use, cultivation and sale of marijuana.

He added that it would not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for their personal consumption in private.

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

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said the law banning marijuana use in private by adults ‘is unconstitutional and therefore invalid’

‘This must be determined by parliament,’ he said.

Parliament is now expected to amend the laws that criminalise cannabis following the court ruling.

Activists had argued that the criminalisation of dagga use and possession is a violation of the right to equality, dignity, and freedom of religion.

There was no immediate comment from the departments over the country’s top court ruling on Tuesday. 

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