Matthais Mueller

South Africa Decriminalizes Personal Cannabis Use

The South African Constitutional Court has ruled that the personal use of cannabis is no longer a criminal offense, according to a News 24 report.

The rule change follows a Western Cape High Court judgment from last March, which ruled in favor of allowing the personal cultivation and consumption of cannabis for private use. That ruling was appealed by the State, which argued that personal cannabis use was against the values of South Africans, so the issue was sent to the Constitutional Court.

According to statements from Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, the Constitutional Court determined that the personal use of cannabis “does not constitute undue harm” and, therefore, its prohibition infringes upon the privacy rights of South Africans.

“The right to privacy is not confined to a home or private dwelling. It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space. … The judgment does not specify how many grams of cannabis can a person use or have in private.” — Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, in a statement

The decriminalization rules are also extended to personal cannabis cultivation, though the commercial distribution of cannabis remains prohibited. Zondo stated that Parliament, not the Constitutional Court, should determine the limits for when cannabis possession and cultivation extend beyond the term “personal use.”

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