South Africa legalises cannabis use

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In March a year ago, the Western Cape High Court ruled that personal use of marijuana (that's Dagga to you and me) should be legal, declaring that bans on the usage of dagga by adults in private homes are unconstitutional.

The order makes it clear that only cultivation of marijuana for private use should be allowed, ruling out commercial growth of the drug as has occurred in the USA state of California, for example.

The Court was presented with sound medical evidence which showed that alcohol abuse and misuse was more damaging to individuals and families than dagga.

"The judgment does not specify how many grams of cannabis can a person use or have in private".

These are all popular misconceptions and people should inform themselves with the truth.

Zondo said the Constitutional Court held these statutory provisions to be constitutionally invalid, to the extent indicated, because they infringed the right to privacy entrenched in Section 14 of the Constitution.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made the ruling on Tuesday morning.

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The State appealed that judgment in the Constitutional Court, arguing that the decision was not in line with the values of South Africans.

In Malawi, marijuana remains illegal.

Previously, possessing, growing or using marijuana for personal use - even in small quantities - exposed users to fines of up to hundreds of dollars (euros) as well as jail time, although this latter punishment was rare. The ruling means it will not be a criminal offence for South Africans adults to use dagga in private or to grow the plant at home for private use.

The court gave parliament 24 months to change the law to reflect its ruling.

But what exactly does private use entail?

South Africa is the third country in Africa to legalise cannabis, following Lesotho in September 2017, and in Zimbabwe in April this year.