- South Africa’s highest court has legalised the use of cannabis and marijuana
- The country becomes the third in Africa after Zimbabwe and Lesotho to legalise cannabis
- The South African government has thus been called on to drop charges against people found in possession of the drug
South Africa has become the third country after Zimbabwe and Lesotho – second and first countries, respectively – to legalise the use of cannabis.
This is contained in a BBC report sighted by YEN.com.gh.
The legalisation was made by the country’s highest court to allow adult citizens to use cannabis in private places.
Excited pro-marijuana activists were reported to have cheered in the public gallery and chanted “Weed are free now” when the constitutional court gave its landmark ruling.
In a unanimous ruling, judges also legalised the growing of marijuana for private consumption.
It will, however, remain illegal to use cannabis in public, and to sell and supply it, the court stressed.
The South African government had opposed its legalisation, arguing the drug was “harmful” to people’s health.
Three cannabis users who had faced prosecution for using the drug brought the case to the court, saying the ban “intrudes unjustifiably into their private spheres”.
Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, in his judgement, said: “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.”
The Cannabis Development Council of South Africa welcomed the ruling, and subsequently called on the government to drop charges against people found in possession of the drug.
However, Jeremy Acton, the leader of the Dagga Party, which campaigns for the use of cannabis, said the ruling should have gone further to legalise the carrying of marijuana in public places.
Cannabis is referred to as “dagga” in South Africa.
The court thus gave parliament 24 months to change the law to reflect its ruling.
In the interim, adults who used marijuana in private would be protected by the ruling until the law was amended, the report said.
The court stated that South Africa’s parliament would have to decide on and specify the quantity of cannabis a person can grow or use in private.
In April, Zimbabwe became the second country in Africa, after Lesotho, to legalise the use of marijuana for medical use.
This judgement is a reminder that South Africa’s hard-won constitution is among the most liberal in the world, backing individual rights, and in this case the right to grow and smoke your own marijuana in private, against the government’s concerns about public health and public order.
The constitutional court’s ruling focuses on the issue of privacy, and a person’s right to do as they please in their own home.
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