Is Cannabis/Marijuana/Dagga legal in South Africa in 2017?
Many South Africans should be aware that Judge Dennis Davis in the Western Cape High Court made a landmark ruling on the 31st March 2017 declaring that it is an infringement to ban the use of dagga by adults in private homes.
In his ruling, Judge Davis, with two judges concurring, found that laws prohibiting the use of cannabis and the possession, purchase and/or cultivation of it – in private homes and for personal consumption – were inconsistent with the Constitution and declared them invalid.
In making the ruling on Friday, it has allowed for the possession, cultivation and use of dagga at home, for private use.
It also ruled that Parliament must change sections of the Drug Trafficking Act, as well as the Medicines Control Act.
It had 24 months to do so.
It wasn’t long until the State appealed the ruling on the 10th of April 2017.
As it stands, Cannabis is still a Schedule 7 substance and it is illegal to possess, cultivate and use dagga at home and even for medicinal use.
The judges felt that it was not up to them, but Parliament to decide how to correct this. Their ruling suspends the order of invalidity of the relevant sections of law for two years, to give MPs time to fix the problem themselves.
A suspension of invalidity for two years effectively means that the old laws stand until two years is up.
Then the judges have to decide what to do about people arrested while the laws are being amended.
For this, the judges decided that the right to use, grow or possess dagga in the privacy of one’s home can be used as a “defence to a charge” if needed.
In the matter between:
First applicant – South African Minister of Constitutional Development.
Second applicant – Minister of Police.
Third applicant – Minister of Health.
Fourth applicant – Minister of Trade and Industry.
Fifth applicant – Directorate of Public Prosecutions.
and Garreth Prince (respondent).
- The Chief Justice has issued the following directions:The application is set down for hearing on Tuesday 7th November 2017 at 10h00.
- The applicants must, on or before Friday, 1 September 2017, file a paginated record in accordance with rule 20(2) of this Court’s Rules containing only those portions of the record that are strictly necessary for the determination of the issues.
- Written argument, including argument on the merits of the appeal, must be lodged by –
- a) the applicants, on or before Friday, 15th September 2017; and
- b) the respondent, on or before Friday, 29th September 2017.
4. Further directions may be issued.