South Africans long demanded a relaxation of drugs laws to allow medicinal and recreational use of cannabis. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane/African News Agency (ANA)

Johannesburg - Police no longer have the right to arrest adults found in possession of dagga in their private homes.

The Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday morning that legislation banning use and cultivation of dagga in private homes violates privacy.

In a unanimous ruling read by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the highest court in the land confirmed a previous judgment of the Western Cape High Court.

The National Prosecuting Authority (NPA)  had hoped the Constitutional Court would overturn the ruling of the Western Cape High Court.

Ministries of Health, Police, Trade and Industry and Justice and Constitutional Development had joined forces with the NPA to appeal the Western Cape ruling but Tuesday's ruling effectively dismissed their appeal.

“I am of the view that the prohibition of the performance of any activity in connection with the cultivation of cannabis by an adult in private for his or her personal consumption in private is inconsistent with the right to privacy entrenched in the Constitution and is constitutionally invalid,” said Zondo in his ruling.

There were ululations inside and outside court soon after Zondo finished reading the historic judgment.

Zondo pointed out that Parliament now has 24 months to repeal laws that banned smoking and cultivation of dagga in private homes.

Zondo also left it to Parliament to stipulate grams that one can possess in their private home.

However, the ruling does not legalise the sale of dagga nor public use.

The Star