South Africa ConCourt legalises mbanje Smoking


In March previous year, the Western Cape High Court ruled that personal use of marijuana (that's Dagga to you and me) should be legal, declaring that bans on the usage of dagga by adults in private homes are unconstitutional.

Here are the details.

The potential implications of the binding judgment are enormous, and unpredictable - particularly in terms of the criminal justice system, which routinely locks up thousands of overwhelmingly poor South Africans for using or dealing in small amounts of cannabis.

The legalisation was made by the country's highest court to allow adult citizens to use cannabis in private places.

The only time one would be found in breach of the laws of South Africa is when they are seen smoking or holding the hard drug in public.

The matter initially brought before court by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince, landed in the country's highest court following Judge Davis's judgment previous year that provisions in the act unjustifiably limited applicants' rights to privacy. The ruling is for personal use only. Since that initial ruling, those arrested with cannabis had been able to argue in court it was for personal use and then judges would dictate whether it was an applicable defense for the charge.

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But there are still lots of uncertainties that need to be cleared up before South Africans can use marijuana without fear of prosecution.

Advocates of banning marijuana say legalizing it will lead to overcrowding in rehabilitation centers and a spike in mental illness.

Justice Zondo said growing weed, which South Africans call dagga, for personal use was legal adding that it only becomes illegal when a person grows it for sale.

It seems several ministries, who opposed the decriminalisation of dagga for private use, have been caught on the back foot.

Following this ruling, the magistrate has up to 24 months to change the Drugs Act.

"We have used cannabis to treat anxiety, colic in children and as an antiseptic in secret for many years", said Phephsile Maseko, of the Traditional Healers Organisation.