Personal use of Marijuana legalised
The Constitutional Court has ruled that the use and cultivation of marijuana for personal use is legal.
In a landmark judgment delivered on Tuesday morning, the apex court declared section 4(b) and section 5(b) of the Drugs Act and section 22A(9)(a)(i) of the Medicines Act constitutionally invalid.
The ruling upheld a decision made by the Western Cape High Court which declared legislation criminalising the use, possession, and cultivation of cannabis unconstitutional.
“The effect of the judgment is two-fold; it decriminalises the use or possession of cannabis by an adult in private for that adult person’s personal consumption in private; and it decriminalises the cultivation of cannabis by an adult in a private place for that adult’s personal consumption in private,” said Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo. The unanimous judgment delivered by Justice Zondo held that the criminalisation of marijuana in a person’s home or private dwelling infringed on the right to privacy. Following the ruling, it would be deemed incorrect to charge an adult under the three sections.
The court suspended the order of invalidity for a period of 24 months, to give Parliament an opportunity to correct the constitutional defects in the two Acts.
The ball is now in Parliament’s court to determine the amount of dagga that an adult may use, possess or cultivate in order for it to amount to “personal use”.
Once Parliament has corrected the defects, the Court said police officers as enforcers of the law must consider all the circumstances and the quantity of cannabis found in an adult person’s possession in order to charge them.
“If the police officer, on reasonable grounds, suspects that the person concerned is in possession of that cannabis for dealing and not for personal consumption, the officer may arrest the person, but a court will ultimately decide whether the person was in possession of cannabis with the intent to deal, or for their own personal consumption,” said Zondo.