Politics and Society
SA High Court decriminalises cultivation and private use of cannabis
The Western Cape Town High Court in South Africa last week passed a judgement that banning the use of dagga (Cannabis) by adults in private homes was an infringement on the right to privacy, and dignity. The ruling allows the possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis at home, for private use.
The Western Cape Town High Court in a judgement on last week ruled that banning the use of dagga (cannabis) by adults in private homes was an infringement. The ruling allowed the possession, cultivation and use of cannabis at home, for private use. The ruling has to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court before it’s sent to the National Assembly. If the Constitutional Court upholds the judgement, then then the legislature will need to amend provisions, which deal with this matter within 24 months.
Cannabis is listed under Schedule 7 of the Medicines Control Council: Schedules. Section 22 A (9) (a) (i) of the Medicines Act prohibits the acquisition, use, possession, manufacture or supply of cannabis. Subsection (10) provides an overriding prohibition on the sale or administration of cannabis other than for medicinal business.
The court also ruled that the South African Parliament must change sections of the Drug Trafficking Act as well as the Medicines Control Act within 24 months. The Court ruled that it would not prescribe alternatives to decriminalisation of the use of cannabis for personal use and consumption, but “it is for the legislature and the executive to decide on a suitable option or alternatives which can be made after these have been the subject of a deliberative process which is inherent in the idea of Parliament”.
Read: South Africa to become first African country to legalise cannabis
Earlier this year, the South African Parliament under the Medical Innovation Bill had sought to legalise cannabis for medical purposes. The bill which had been brought by the late Mario Oriani-Ambrosini was to be passed into law.
With the recent ruling of the Western Cape Town High Court, it’s not clear how the proposed bill which had earlier been celebrated as a major landmark by members of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) would be affected.
Jeremy Acton, the leader of the Dagga Party told IOL that, “The Medical Innovation Bill before Parliament is giving the entire resource to centralised corporate control. The government is trying to appropriate this resource and give it to the pharmaceutical industry.”
The leader of the Dagga Party, Jeremy Acton alongside Garreth Prince, the Rastafarian lawyer, brought the case before the High Court in December on the basis of delisting cannabis from the forbidden substances listed in the Drugs and Trafficking Act.
Read: Ghana reveals a proposal to decriminalize the use of marijuana
However, the High Court is not the only court that would sit on this case. The ruling has to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court before it’s sent to the National Assembly. If the Constitutional Court upholds the judgement, then then the legislature will need to amend and align provisions, which deal with this matter.
Acton wants cannabis to be treated the same way tobacco and alcohol is treated. The applicants argued that the distinction between cannabis and other harmful substances, such as alcohol and tobacco is irrational and hence the limitation of the right to privacy was unjustifiable in terms of s 36(1) of the Republic of South Africa Constitution Act 108 of 1996 (“the Constitution”).