Many South Africans are celebrating the recent Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling, giving personal use of cannabis (dagga) the green light.
Deputy Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, announced this month the use and possession of dagga by an adult in a private space was no longer a criminal offence.
However, the judgement did not specify the quantity of dagga a person was permitted to have in their possession. Many residents are still trying to understand what the ruling means, and if lighting a joint will still land them in hot water with authorities.
In an exclusive interview, Newcastle SAPS spokesman, Captain Jabulani Ncube said, “It is our understanding that the [Constitutional] Court ruled the use and planting of dagga at one’s home is now legal. However, you may not smoke dagga in the presence of a minor.”
He emphasised that from SAPS’s side, dealing and selling dagga remained a crime and anyone caught selling narcotics would be arrested, charged and have their fate decided by the justice system. Cpt Ncube also stated that despite the ConCourt ruling, there was a two year review period to give Parliament the time to refine and revise the law, and iron out any legislative wrinkles.
“We are appealing to the Newcastle community to remain respectful towards Parliament and wait for the duration of the 24 months to be over and Cabinet has finalised the ruling.”
In an article published in the Newcastle Advertiser in April last year, Member of the Provincial Legislature and Democratic Alliance KwaZulu-Natal spokesman for health, Doctor Imran Keeka said the legalisation of dagga could positively benefit the country and said there were several ideas theorised from examples in other countries where dagga was legalised. He believed the cultivation of cannabis could create more jobs in agriculture.
“This could extend into papermaking, and the medicinal harvesting of varieties high in the medicinal cannabidiol (CBD) component. The greater economic effects would only be possible if larger scale planting was allowed.”
At the time, Dr Keeka felt the recreational use of dagga was ill advised, as it was addictive and an intoxicant when abused or mixed with other narcotics.
“It can severely harm the body and mind, families and communities. It is for this reason that I personally only support the use of it if it is placed exclusively in the hands of professionals, who are trained in the medicinal aspects of the herb and its extracts, to be used entirely for healthcare purposes.”