South Africa's top court legalises private use of cannabis

South Africa’s Constitutional Court has ruled that personal use of marijuana is not a criminal offence

SA Constitutional Court Says Using And Growing Mbanje For Private Use Is Legal

People smoke marijuana outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg as South Africa's top court is ruling over a law banning cannabis use on September 18, 2018.

For the cultivation of cannabis, he says the exact same rules should apply.

"If a police officer finds a person in possession of cannabis and he or she thinks it is not for personal consumption, he or she will ask the person such questions as may be necessary to satisfy himself or herself whether the cannabis he or she is in possession of is for personal consumption", Zondo said.

The ruling means dagga can now be cultivated in private spaces for private adult consumption.

Cannabis is referred to as "dagga" in South Africa.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has upheld an earlier high court judgment.

The order makes it clear that only cultivation of marijuana for private use should be allowed, ruling out commercial growth of the drug as has occurred in the U.S. state of California, for example.

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In Malawi, marijuana remains illegal.

"It's not enough, we also have privacy in person, as we walk in a public space, therefore we should be allowed to carry cannabis in public", said Jeremy Acton, leader of the Dagga Party in South Africa which advocates for the rights of cannabis users.

It found that the country's cannabis ban infringed on section 14 of the South African constitution which gives all citizens the right to privacy.

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 court has not approved - in any form - the trade in marijuana, meaning the government will not be able to profit from taxing a legalised industry.

Zondo said that this reading-in will apply until such time as Parliament fixes the Constitutional defect in the case. In addition to this, parliament has been given two years to change sections of both the drug trafficking act and the medicine controls act.

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