There had been a looming cloud in South Africa over the issue of smoking marijuana, and the Constitutional Court stepped in to clarify the issue by ruling that marijuana is now legal in South Africa for private use only.
It came as a huge joy and reprieve for smokers who had waited long for private use of marijuana, commonly known as dagga in South Africa, to be decriminalized. In 2017, the Western Cape had ruled that the use of marijuana in private capacity should be legalized, but the State appealed against this, slowing things down. South Africa's government had opposed its legalization, arguing the drug was "harmful" to people's health.
Now that the Constitutional Court has decriminalized the private use of marijuana, clarity has been brought to the whole smoking issue in South Africa. The judgement was delivered by Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo. He’s also the head of the state capture inquiry.
"It will not be a criminal offense for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption," said Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo.
This now means that the law criminalizing the private use of marijuana is now unconstitutional and invalid. The Constitutional Court has given the government 24 months to come up with new ones that respected South Africans' right to privacy "in their private spheres." Private use does have the go-ahead as of Tuesday 18 September.
This, however, does not mean that anything to do with weed is absolutely legal in South Africa now. It still remains illegal to smoke weed in public, to sell or supply it. Prior to the ruling, possession of marijuana in South Africa could earn you up to 15 years in prison and up to 25 years for dealing the substance.
Proponents of marijuana legalization across the world have argued that marijuana is less dangerous, and also has some medical benefits. South African legalization activists have welcomed this development with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement. The Rastafarians in South Africa have also been ecstatic with the news of legalization.
Lesotho has become the first country in Africa to legalise the growing, cultivation and selling of marijuana for medicinal and research purposes.
Last year, Lesotho legalized the production of cannabis. Zimbabwe moved to allow the production and selling of cannabis for medical and scientific purposes, although this is yet to be fully implemented in its entirety.
With the official status of weed in South Africa now bordering on "decriminalized" it now means adults are allowed to grow, use and cultivate the substance on their own property.
Zimbabwe has legalized the production of marijuana/cannabis for medicinal or scientific purposes.
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