The highest constitutional court of yesterday decriminalized the possession, consumption and private cultivation of the herb at home, to loud applause of the public gallery.
Deputy Supreme Court Raymond Zondo was interrupted several times by loud applause when he read a unanimous verdict on behalf of several colleagues who confirmed a judgment of the High Court of the Western Cape by Judge Dennis Davis.
Provisions of the Drug and Drugs Act were found that did not comply with the right to privacy in prohibiting the cultivation of cannabis by an adult on private property for private use.
"It is true that there will be cases where it will be clear from all circumstances that the possession of cannabis by a person is for personal use or consumption." There will also be cases where it will be clear from all circumstances that the possession of cannabis by person is not or can not be for personal consumption or use.
"Then there will be cases where it is difficult to say whether possession is for personal consumption or not.In the latter scenario, a policeman should not arrest the person, because in such a case it will be difficult to go out of court later on. show that someone's possession of cannabis was not for personal consumption, "Justice Zondo said.
The case that had been brought to court by the leader of the Dagga party, Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince, landed in the highest court of the country after Judge Davis' verdict last year that provisions in the law the applicants wrongly restricted privacy.
He found it unjustifiable to prevent people from owning or cultivating cannabis in the privacy of their own homes.
The high court had ordered the parliament to change the legislation within 24 months.
In terms of the Constitution, the Concourt must approve or destroy such a decision.
Should Parliament fail to change the constitutional flaws within 24 months, the order would become final, Judge Zondo said.
Meanwhile, the wheels are moving to commercialize hemp in South Africa. Hemp is like dagga but without the narcotic effect.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said it was leading an interdepartmental team to develop a new regulatory framework for hemp.
They had already formally requested the Health, Justice and Constitutional Development sections to consider legislative changes to allow the commercialization of hemp.
"(The department) is waiting for a response from these departments," it said, adding that the government had recognized the medicinal and commercial activity of the plant.