Freeing use of the herb a legal high

Freeing use of the herb a legal high.
Freeing use of the herb a legal high.
Image: 123RF/Nils Weymann

"You can get stoned at home."

This and other funny-sounding headlines on Tuesday marked the historical ConCourt judgment on the use in private of dagga.

The ruling is no joke but a momentous adjustment to the country's criminal justice system. This essentially means that if an adult person smokes dagga at his home and without bothering other people, he can no longer be seen as engaging in an act of crime.

We welcome the ruling, more so because it will free the police from the tedious task of chasing after dagga users and focus on the real business of fighting crime and lawlessness.

Significantly, this judgment comes only a week after the police minister revealed that the SAPS was understaffed by as much as 10000 personnel.

Judge Raymond Zondo's judgment went a step further by stating that users can grow the herb on their properties for private use, as well as being free to travel with it wherever they want to go.

Dagga, or cannabis, is not only used for recreational purposes by those smoking it to get high and happy, but the herb is also used in some religious practices, notably by the Rastafarian community who, by and large, begun the fight for its legalisation.

We, however, note the objecting feelings to the ruling by certain sections of society, but in all fairness, the treatment of dagga use and that of alcohol had not been the same before the laws of this country and those of many others around the world.

We are disinclined to even delve into a discussion to compare the levels of harm alcohol and dagga can bring to our bodies and society.

Already there's concern in some quarters that driving under the influence, as governed by Section 65 of the National Road Traffic Act, may not treat dagga users the same. The argument being that alcohol clears quicker in the bloodstream, while dagga users may easily fall foul of driving-under-the-influence because it can remain in the blood for days after use.

These are debates for lawmakers and other experts to engage in. For now, we toast the fact that dagga users will be treated fairly and equally before the law.

It is also significant to note that the laws that had reduced dagga smoking in Africa to an act of crime were inspired by colonial sensibilities.

The Constitutional Court has ruled in favour of the use and possession of dagga for private use. We listed some of the best #dagga memes we found on Twitter.

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