South Africa's top court legalises personal, private marijuana use

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The constitutional court in South Africa on Tuesday delivered a judgment that private use of marijuana, locally referred to as dagga, is not a criminal offence.

However, leader of the Dagga Party, Gareth Prince says they will be challenging that High Court ruling that the cannabis laws as they now stand violate equality laws.

Government argued that legalising dagga was not in line with South Africa's constitutional values, given that it could harm citizens.

"We have used cannabis to treat anxiety, colic in children and as an antiseptic in secret for many years", said Phephsile Maseko, of the Traditional Healers Organisation.

South Africa joins Zimbabwe which in April became the second country in Africa, after Lesotho, to legalise the use of marijuana for medical use.

These are all popular misconceptions and people should inform themselves with the truth.

In March 2017, Justice Dennis Davis handed down a judgement in the Western Cape High Court that declared sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Acts as invalid and unconstitutional after the application brought by Rastafarian lawyer Gareth Prince, an advocate for the decriminalisation of marijuana.

This also extended to cultivating cannabis in a private place for personal consumption in private.

"Just last week the damning statistics showed an increase of 30,981 in drug-related crime, up from 292,388 to 323,369, and this week, there is a Constitutional Court ruling that would see efforts to decrease that number hindered".

In Malawi, marijuana remains illegal.

The potential implications of the binding judgment are enormous, and unpredictable - particularly in terms of the criminal justice system, which routinely locks up thousands of overwhelmingly poor South Africans for using or dealing in small amounts of cannabis.

Previously, possessing, growing or using marijuana for personal use - even in small quantities - exposed users to fines of up to hundreds of dollars (euros) as well as jail time, although this latter punishment was rare.

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