There is still a grey area around the rules about how much marijuana one may have in one's possession, and more questions about the legislation are coming up. File picture: Bram Janssen/AP
Johannesburg - Now that the ownership of dagga is legal, many offenders already found guilty of possession are wondering if and how their criminal records can be scrapped.

Earlier this year the Western Cape High Court ruled that marijuana should be legalised for personal use, but the State appealed the decision.

The matter was taken to the Constitutional Court, where it was decided that the use of dagga for personal use was legal.

There is still a grey area around the rules about how much marijuana one may have in one's possession, and more questions about the legislation are coming up.

An issue raised by law firm Faure and Faure Inc, based in Paarl, was what would happen to offenders who were arrested for possession of dagga?

Inge Johnson, an attorney at the firm, said: “So many South Africans are facing great challenges because of their offences, which range from being unable to get a job overseas to obtaining a commercial pilot's licence. And this for possession of a tiny bit of marijuana, very often during their youth or student years.”

She added that if a criminal record for possession of marijuana was more than 10 years old and the accused had no other offences and had not served jail time, an application could be made to the director-general of Justice and Constitutional Development, along with a police certificate which showed that the offence was older than 10 years.

A certificate of expungement would be issued if the application was successful.

“The problem lies with those who have a criminal record that is less than 10 years old. Why should someone - most likely a younger individual - be denied rights and opportunities simply because their conviction is not yet 'old enough’?

"It would then be submitted to the head of the Criminal Record Centre of the SAPS to scrap the criminal conviction. If unsuccessful, the applicant would be notified of the reasons."

Company director Lloyd Fortuin said they would be approaching the director-general to get more clarity on the matter.

“The road to fully decriminalising the use and possession of marijuana is a long one, but we believe there is light at the end of the tunnel."

The Star