Victory for dagga users as ConCourt grants permission for private use

Members of the Rastafarian community smoke a marijuana pipe on, 18 September 2018, outside the Constitutional court in Johannesburg, after the court ruled that the private use of marijuana is not a criminal offence.
Members of the Rastafarian community smoke a marijuana pipe on, 18 September 2018, outside the Constitutional court in Johannesburg, after the court ruled that the private use of marijuana is not a criminal offence.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

Dagga users in South Africa are free to blaze their joints in the privacy of their homes without fear of being prosecuted after a Constitutional Court ruling on the matter on Tuesday.

Scenes of celebration erupted and ululations could be heard inside the courtroom after judgment declaring that it was no longer a criminal offence for people to cultivate and use dagga in the privacy of their homes.

The unanimous judgment by deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo rendered certain sections of the Drugs Act and Medicines Act unconstitutional on the basis that they infringed upon the right to privacy as enshrined in the constitutions.

Members of the Rastafarian community celebrates with police nearby, 18 September 2018, at the Constitutional court in Johannesburg, after the court ruled that the private use of marijuana is not a criminal offence.
Members of the Rastafarian community celebrates with police nearby, 18 September 2018, at the Constitutional court in Johannesburg, after the court ruled that the private use of marijuana is not a criminal offence.
Image: Alaister Russell/The Sunday Times

The ruling was a confirmation of a 2017 Western Cape High Court judgment that afforded the applicants the right to use the herb in the privacy of their homes freely. The matter arose through three different court proceedings initiated by Rastafarian lawyer Gareth Prince and others against the State. However, the cases were eventually heard as one matter.

Zondo said the Constitutional Court would give parliament 24 months to correct the constitutional defects in the Drugs Act and the Medicines Act. He however said the judgment was limited to private use of dagga by adults, adding that public use was still a criminal offence.

Speaking outside the courtroom, Prince said the ruling was a victory.

“It’s a brilliant day. It’s about time that South Africans move along with the times and start using what is most valuable. It is valuable because we can make fuel for cars, bricks for houses and paper for books,” said Prince, adding that the judgment would also ensure that people are free to practice their culture as Africans. 

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

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