On Friday (31/03/2017) Facebook and Twitter were abuzz with 2 things: 1. Jacob Zuma’s #CabinetReshuffle screwing the rand and attempting low-key state capture 2. Marijuana legalization.
Cape Town (and South Africa in general), were very excited about the apparent legalization of marijuana, too excited to be as angry as usual.
Because we got high.
But as we settle into our very relaxed state, it’s time to clear the air (pun intended), on what really went down in the Western Cape High Court on Friday- and to our great displeasure, we were very mislead. Marijuana was infact NOT legalized. So don’t go lighting up in public or cultivating your own herb garden just yet.
On Friday Judge Dennis Davis ruled that it was “an infringement of the constitutional right to privacy” to ban the personal/home use of marijuana (by adults, mind). News 24 reports, the “application to decriminalise dagga was brought to the court by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince”.
Marijuana WAS permitted for home and personal use as the ruling stated that invasion of the home in pursuit of marijuana was unconstitutional as it contravened with our right to privacy. It did not state that it was legal, or exactly even HOW MUCH marijuana would be classified as ‘personal’use.
Davis and fellow judges Nolwazi Boqwana and Vincent Saldanha ‘gave Parliament two years to correct laws that relate to infringement of the constitutional right to privacy in regards to home use and growth of marijuana.
It also stated that those currently charged for personal growth/use of marijuana could use invasion of privacy as a defense.
The ruling requires parliament to amend the following 2 important bills that will be influenced/will influence the new law (if it is passed): the Drug Trafficking Act andthe Medicines Control Act.
But what is most important is that the constitutional court has not yet validated this law. They are still pending a confirmation from the CC.
The most important thing: it could still take 2 years for a legalization law for personal use to come into effect.
As Prince puts it: “Technically speaking, it will only happen from the day that the Constitutional Court make the judgment. In the 24 months leading up to that now … basically they say if the police catch you, then you will be able to offer a defence that you possess the cannabis for personal reason.”
Here is the order handed down by Judge Davis as reported by the Huffington Post:
“The following provisions are declared inconsistent with the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and are invalid only to the extent that they prohibit the use of cannabis by an adult in a private dwellings [sic] where the possession, purchase or cultivation of cannabis is for personal consumption by an adult;
“1.1 Sections 4 (b) and 5 (b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act s 22A (10) thereof read with part III of the schedule 2, to the Drugs Act and
“1.2 Section 22 A (9)(a)(i) of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965 (the Medicines Act) read with Schedule 7 GN R509 published in terms of Section 22 A (2) of the Medicines Act.
“This declaration of invalidity is suspended for a period of 24 months from the date of this judgment in order to allow Parliament to correct the defects as set out in the judgment.
“It is declared that until Parliament has made the amendments contemplated in Paragraph 1 or the period of suspension has expired, it will be deemed to be a defence to a charge under a provision as set out in paragraph 1 of this order that the possession, or cultivation of cannabis in a private dwelling is for the personal consumption of the adult accused.”
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Words by Zoya Pon.