On 31 March 2017, the Western Cape High Court ruled that cannabis should be legalised for private home use, however, the state appealed this decision, with the police, justice, health and trade ministers arguing there was “objective proof of the harmful effects of cannabis”. Nevertheless, in a landmark judgement on 18 September 2018, the Constitutional Court, South Africa’s highest court effectively decriminalised the cultivation, storage and use of cannabis in the privacy of one’s home, ruling that the prohibition of private cultivation, possession and consumption of the plant at home was unconstitutional.
Private Cannabis Use Now Legal in South Africa
In a unanimous judgement, Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, also head of the commission of inquiry probing state capture, upheld and expanded on Judge Dennis Davis’ 2017 judgment that adults should be allowed to grow, keep and use cannabis in the privacy of their own home. The court also ruled that Parliament is required to amend sections of the Drug Trafficking and Medicines Control Acts within the next 24 months. The judgement further doesn’t specify the amount that can be kept or used by an adult for private use, as that will be determined by Parliament.
Not a Free-For-All
It is important to note that this ruling will neither decriminalise the use of cannabis in public nor the offence of dealing in or supplying cannabis. The ruling does, however, decriminalise the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, as previously many of those who use medicinal cannabis products to alleviate various symptoms, such as cancer patients, and those suffering from anxiety, PTSD, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, were technically doing so unlawfully.