UPDATED: SA court decriminalises dagga possession

The highest court in South Africa lived up to its name yesterday and upheld a Western Cape High Court decision that it is legal to be in possession of dagga in your private capacity.

The State’s arguments on the limitation of the use of dagga went up in smoke as Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo gave the green light for personal dagga consumption. “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,” Zondo said.

The ruling follows a Western Cape High Court judgment that the possession, cultivation and use of dagga for private use was allowed.

The court gave Parliament 24 months to update legislation relating to marijuana to be in line with its ruling.

This is a joint victory for Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince who argued on December 13 and 14, 2016, for the decriminalisation of the herb.

There are still several technical issues to weed out, though, such as the amount of dagga a person can legally have in their possession.


“The judgment does not specify how many grams of cannabis can a person use or have in private,” Zondo said.

Phephelaphi Dube, director at the Centre for Constitutional Rights, said that she viewed the judgment as “cautiously progressive”.

“It balances, on the one hand, the right to privacy and associated entitlements such as dignity and wellbeing against the need to maintain a lawful and orderly society.

“With due deference to the separation of powers, it will be up to Parliament to determine the lawful quantities that individuals may cultivate and consume.”

According to Dube, the judgment allows individuals to cultivate, to grow and consume cannabis “in certain narrowly defined spaces”, such as their homes. — Sapa

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