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Ban on private use of dagga at home is ruled unconstitutional

Ban on private use of dagga at home is ruled unconstitutional.
Ban on private use of dagga at home is ruled unconstitutional.
Image: 123RF/Nils Weymann

The Constitutional Court has found that the ban on the private use and cultivation of dagga at a private home is unconstitutional.

The unanimous judgment decriminalises adults smoking dagga at home and growing enough marijuana for personal consumption.

But the highest court in the land said clearly marijuana was not allowed to be smoked publicly.

Dealing is still illegal.

The Constitutional Court was confirming the 2017 Western Cape High court by Judge Dennis Davies that found a ban on use of dagga at home was against the constitutional right to privacy.

Dealing is still illegal.

Rastafarian Garreth Prince and leader of Dagga party Jeremy Acton brought the case. Multiple government departments appealed and wanted dagga use at home to remain criminalised.

The court accepted medical studies that showed alcohol caused more harm than dagga and that there was little data to show that criminalising dagga reduced harmful use.

Parliament has two years to amend the relevant laws. In the meantime‚ the court specified it has granted interim relief that allows personal use at home.

Justice Raymond Zondo said he took into account international law allowing the private use of dagga at home. 

South Africa’s “dagga couple” – Jules Stobbs‚ 59‚ and Myrtle Clarke‚ 51 – who have spent years fighting to legalise the use of dagga for adults posed for a celebratory photograph.

The couple‚ who flew to Johannesburg for the judgment‚ had on Monday evening urged dagga users in Port Elizabeth to “puff their very last illegal joint” ahead of the landmark ruling. They were friends of the court in this matter.

“Garreth Prince‚ you defeated Goliath‚” screamed a man repeatedly after the ruling.

The ruling does not allow dagga users to sell it to their friends.

The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of the private use of dagga on September 18 2018.

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