Constitutional Court Decriminalises Cannabis in South Africa

Constitutional Court Decriminalises Cannabis in South Africa

In a groundbreaking ruling the Constitutional Court of South Africa has decriminalised Cannabis after years of legal challenges by citizens and civil society groups through the nations courtrooms. Following an unprecedented length of time to make their decision, the court ruled that it will no longer be a criminal offence for an adult person to cultivate, possess or consume Cannabis in private. They also said “the judgement does not define how much Cannabis an adult person may cultivate or possess.”

In 2007 Ras Gareth Prince, who has previously lost a Constitutional Court case based on legalising for religious purposes only, and Jeremy Acton, leader of The Dagga Party of South Africa, had personally plead their case before the Western Cape High Court  in the hope that the court would rule in favour of more proactive and realistic approach to Cannabis use in the country. This ruling came on the last final day of the promised 1st quarter finale of the long ongoing trial and had kept many of the nation’s citizens waiting with bated breath

Despite the trial having experienced a number of ups and downs, public support was consistently strong and Judge Davis had allowed both sides to plea their case. All three judges of the High Court unanimously declared the laws regarding Cannabis to be unconstitutional and declared that the South African government had 24 months to amend these laws in favour of legalisation. The court ordered that all cultivation, possession and personal use on private property be immediately permitted. The details regarding distribution and retail were however not ruled on in the judgement. As it stood, this meant that the laws regarding Cannabis confusingly fell somewhere between decriminalisation and legalisation. The judgement was appealed by the State soon after and therefore found its way to the Constitutional Court for the final say on the matter in November 2017. What followed was nearly a year long wait for what many hoped would be a reasonable ruling that validated the High Court’s earlier decision.

Significant weight had been added to the case due to the non-profit company Fields of Green For ALL and leaders from the Khoi Khoi, Griqua and Auni nations intervening in support, while Doctor’s For Life had unsurprisingly joined the State in opposition to any form of legalisation or decriminilisation.

Although the Constitutional Court previously ruled against legalisation, their finding at the time was that the parameters of the application sought then were too narrow and restrictive in that it would only really legalise Cannabis for use in a traditional use context, primarily for Rastafarians. The scope of the current case before the court was however much wider and is practically a blank cheque for the judges to order whatever legislation they see fit.

Hundreds of these enthusiastic supporters gathered outside the court room in the hopes being the first to hear good news while some had been holding a prayer vigil since as early as the previous morning. They weren’t disappointed when the Constitutional Court finally handed down its ruling.

Further comparisons were made to consumers need to not possess an unreasonable amount that courts may still need to decide if qualifies dealing to third parties, as well as the parallels in legal regulation. The court ordered that Parliament bring the nations laws in line within 24 months of the ruling and that should they fail to do so the order will become final.

This is certainly good news for human rights and drug policy reform activists across the globe, and heralds the turning of a new leaf for a country that has perhaps felt the effects of Cannabis prohibition longer than any other.

Watch the ruling

2018-09-20T08:59:01+00:00

13 Comments

  1. Marc September 18, 2018 at 11:36 am - Reply

    Congratulations guys

  2. Maureen Stewart September 18, 2018 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    I was diagnosed 2 years ago at age 63. Symptoms were tremor in right leg, loss of handwriting ability, and soft voice. I also have difficulty rising from a seated position and have balance issues. I started out taking only Azilect, then Mirapex, and 6 months ago Sinemet. Several months ago I started falling frequently, hence the reason for Sinemet. I tried every shots available but nothing worked. In June 2018, my neurologist and I decided to go with natural treatment and was introduced to Natural Herbal Gardens natural organic Parkinson’s Herbal formula, i had a total decline of symptoms with this treatment, the Tremor, falling frequently, stiffness, body weakness, balance issues, depression and others has subsided. Visit Natural Herbal Gardens official website ww w. naturalherbalgardens. com. This treatment is a breakthrough for all suffering from Parkinson’s, don’t give up Hope. Keep Sharing the Awareness, herbs are truly gift from God.

  3. Bianca September 18, 2018 at 6:34 pm - Reply

    Fantastic to see the progress of legalising it. Btw: I think African traditional healers have been using cannabis already for many years.

  4. […] me start off by saying that decriminalisation of cannabis is a huge step forward for South Africa but it has created perhaps more questions than it has […]

  5. Edward september September 24, 2018 at 10:54 am - Reply

    Tru it was long overdue ganja never harm anyone burn cruel doctors for life birn police and government for their mic overstanding
    Now is tym for government to sit down wth us
    To find ways to create jobs with these green masive economy cause ganja can solve all unemployment problems we experiencing keep it geen keepbit burning more ganja more life

    • Myrtle Clarke September 27, 2018 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Lovely to hear from you Edward! let’s chat about the way forward for your community… Catch you on email or WhatsApp…

  6. Louis ban vuuren September 25, 2018 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Hallo. I have a question. In regards to cultivation and “in private” does that mean ine can only grow indoors or is that anywhere on one’s property
    Kind regards
    Louus

    • Myrtle Clarke September 27, 2018 at 10:44 am - Reply

      Anywhere that is a private space and you must be able to prove that it is for personal use.

  7. Graham Sharples September 26, 2018 at 2:18 am - Reply

    Well done to Fields of Green For All, the legal team and all who made this possible. Thank you for all you have done to make this happen. God bless you all.

  8. Nhlanhla Vilakazi September 26, 2018 at 1:13 pm - Reply

    Thank you and do continue on your pursuit for equal human rights. Hoping to working soon as I do have a criminal dagga charge against my name. May Jah Rastafari bless your works.

  9. shaun September 26, 2018 at 8:15 pm - Reply

    thank you field of green for all your hard work and the rest of the people that helped

  10. BOSALETSE PHEPHENG September 27, 2018 at 1:20 pm - Reply

    LEGALIZE IT DON’T CRITICIZE…I’M SURE WHERE PETER TOSH IS TODAY HES HAPPIER THAN BEFORE WHEN ONE WAS ARRESTED AND CRIMINALIZED FOR GANJA,ONE LOVE YOUTH ORG CONGRATULATES FIELDS OF GREEN FOR ALL AND GARETH PRINCE FOR MAKING OUR VOICES HEARD AGAIN AND THIS TIME COME OUT VICTORIOUS FOR NOW WE ADVERTISE IT….BIG UP ALL MARIJUANA USERS FOR THESE WOULD ALSO NOT HAVE HAPPENED WITHOUT YOUR SUPPORT SO THANK YOU ALL

  11. Mogapi Nape October 4, 2018 at 4:40 pm - Reply

    Exciting times indeed. My ancestors must be celebrating. God Bless you all who took part in this life changing experience. I managed to be there # 7 Nov 2017 @ the Hill.
    I believe more work still needs to be done to educate our society, about the benefits of Cannabis.
    There is more into just smoking.
    Let the sick be healed.
    My body my choice

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