File photo: Bongani Shilubane / African News Agency (ANA)
File photo: Bongani Shilubane / African News Agency (ANA)

Concourt to hand down ruling on private use of dagga

By Staff Reporter Time of article published Sep 17, 2018

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The battle to legalise the private use of marijuana is nearing an end as the Constitutional Court is expected to hand down judgment tomorrow.

Several ministers, including the minister of Justice and Constitutional Development, the minister of Police, and the minister of Health, had appealed a Western Cape High Court order last year, declaring certain sections of the Drug Trafficking Act and the Medicines Act to be inconsistent with the Constitution as they prohibited the use of cannabis by an adult in a private home for personal consumption.

The successful application to decriminalise marijuana had been driven by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince. The parties who brought the case were all cannabis users for medicinal, spiritual, recreational and other reasons.

The high court found that provisions in the acts unjustifiably limited the applicants’ rights to privacy, and found it unjustifiable to prevent a person from possessing, purchasing or cultivating cannabis in the privacy of their own homes.

The court had ordered Parliament to change things within 24 months.

The State argued psychoactive components of cannabis use causes the impairment of reasoning abilities and poses potential dangers to third parties.

They argued cannabis is also dangerous because it is a “gateway” drug, which leads its users to experiment with other more dangerous and illicit substances.

They charged that new farming methods, as well as the propensity to mix cannabis with other dangerous substances to create new composite street drugs such as whoonga, have increased its potency and exacerbated its harmful effects.

King Adam Kok V of the Griqua Nation, Griqua Nation chief Petrus Vaalbooi, and the Auni San people applied for admission as intervening parties, and said the Griqua and Auni San people had long used cannabis for medicinal, spiritual and cultural purpose, and that their heritage and culture was threatened by the blanket criminalisation of cannabis.

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