ConCourt rules that personal use of dagga is not a criminal offence

South Africa’s Constitutional Court has ruled that personal use of marijuana is not a criminal offence

However, the court noted that right of privacy was not necessarily limited to a person's home and its order went broader than the high court judgment, allowing adults to use cannabis in other private places. "It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space", deputy chief justice Raymond Zondo said in the ruling.

However, the judgement did not specify the amount that can be used by an adult in private use.

Prince argued that the criminalisation of dagga use and possession was a violation of the right to equality, dignity, and freedom of religion.

The Western Cape High Court ruled in March 2017 that it is an infringement to ban the use of dagga by adults in private homes.

The Constitutional Court dispensed with the High Court's limitation of its order to the use, cultivation or possession of cannabis at home or in private dwelling.

It has declared them invalid.

Judge Zondo said there were will be cases where it is obvious that the cannabis being held is intended for personal use, and cases where it's obvious that it is not.

Parliament will have to address the constitutional defects in the Drugs Act and Medecins Act in the next 24 months in the statutory provisions in this judgment.

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.

But ultimately, it would be up to the court to decide whether the person in possession of cannabis had the intent to deal it, or use it for his/her consumption.

If the police officer, on reasonable grounds, suspects that the person concerned is in possession of that cannabis for dealing and not for personal consumption, the officer may arrest the person.

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