Stipulations in ConCourt’s dagga ruling make perfect sense

The highest court in South Africa on September 18, 2018 at the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg, ruled that the personal use of marijuana is not a criminal offence. South Africans are allowed to smoke and grow dagga at home. Picture: Cebisile Mbonani

South Africa is a developing nation and policing a drug like dagga should not be high on her list of priorities.

It was to be expected that groups of dagga supporters outside the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg would have lit up their joints to celebrate yesterday’s decision to legalise the drug for private and for personal use.

Ironically, though, those users, with their very public lighting up, would have still been breaking the law.

The Constitutional Court’s decision has been one of the most interesting in its history … but the people who interpreted it as a wholesale legalisation of marijuana were wrong.

The ruling specifically decriminalised possession and use of the drug for personal purposes and in private. It gave parliament 24 months in which to amend the current legislation to detail, for example, how much of the drug would be acceptable for private use and, therefore, above what level there would be a legal presumption that the person was a dealer.

Even though it is permissible to smoke dagga in the privacy of your home, the ruling still makes it clear that you may not do so in front of minor children or in front of “nonconsenting” adults.

Those stipulations make perfect sense to us.

Marijuana is not a “hard” drug and many people use it recreationally. So, why not accept the reality of life and allow consenting adults to use it in private? Why continue to waste valuable police resources, and billions of rand, in prosecuting these so-called offenders? South Africa is a developing nation and policing a drug like dagga should not be high on her list of priorities.

Perhaps, one day, a full legalisation of the substance might be achieved. This might have definite benefits for society at large. Apart from a reduced policing burden, it would offer poverty-stricken people a way to earn a living by growing it … and could also provide extra taxation for government.

We don’t think that is a pipe dream …

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