SA’s Western Cape High Court has just decriminalized the use of Dagga (marijuana) in private homes.
Following the new rule, the court has also ordered that sections of the Drug Trafficking Act, and the Medicines Control Act, need to be amended.
The court gives the parliament 24 months to effect the changes in the the above mentioned laws.
In December last year, Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince made an appeal that the use of the Dagga herb be decriminalized. For Prince, smoking Dagga was part of the Rastafarian identity.
As they wait for the legal protocol which will take a couple of years, Acton said the ruling would at least put a stop to what he calls “unnecessary arrests”.
“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.”
Report says that 3 judges declared the initial law as unconstitutional.
This means that the possession, cultivation and use Dagga at home is no longer a drug offense.
Dagga is gotten from the Dagga plant which grows in South Africa. Dagga plantations can grow up to 3m high and 15cm in diameter.
Before now the use of this plant whether publicly or privately was a drug crime. Most drug offenders started out with the Dagga plant. The Dagga plant is chopped off, dried in the sun and smoked.
Since it cannot easily burn on its own, the weed is mixed with tobacco.
Dagga is usually called the “Gate Way Drug”. In other words, it is the forerunner for harder drugs.
Health wise, Dagga weed is an extremely dangerous substance. As a harmful drug which is smoked, it does harm to the lungs and affects mental balance. The substance hinders the physical and psychological development of children who are exposed to it.
Regardless of the negative effects on health, the court has reversed its initial ruling by legalizing the use of the substance on the condition that it is used in the privacy of the home.
Coming from the angle of social welfare, using the Dagga at home may foster a stronger tendency of drug abuse especially in homes where there are growing children.
Jeremy Acton and Garreth Prince, supported by 18 plaintiffs, according to News24, successfully made their case, requesting “the Criminal Prohibition of Dagga Act (sections 4b and 5c), read with certain sections of Part III of Schedule 2 of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, to be declared unconstitutional.”
Garreth Prince, who is a lawyer and an activist said the victory has not been completely won.
“Although the Western Cape High Court made the finding today, our law requires that this finding will still have to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court. So obviously, we would have to go back to the Constitutional Court for a confirmation hearing.”