The Constitutional Court handed down an unanimous judgment on 18 September 2018 that now makes it legal for adults to cultivate and smoke marijuana in the comfort of their own homes. This was greeted by much jubilation inside the Court Room as well as outside. Many Activists have been campaigning for years to have the smoking of marijuana in one’s own home, decriminalized.
The Constitutional Court considered various factors before making its ruling. These factors included privacy, health concerns and what the status quo in other parts of the world is. ACJ Zondo stated that “the right to privacy entitles an adult person to use or cultivate or possess cannabis in private for his or her own personal consumption to the extent that the impugned provisions criminalise such cultivation, possession or use of cannabis, they limit the right to privacy.”
The State had failed to prove that the existing limitation of privacy was reasonable and justifiable. The relevant legal provisions that criminalise the private use of dagga by adults, were declared unconstitutional and invalid. The order was suspended for 24 months. This will enable Parliament to amend the various pieces of legislation to comply with the Constitutional Court’s judgment.
The judgment thus means that in the interim, adults who use, possess or cultivate cannabis in private for their own personal consumption, would not be guilty of contravening any provisions currently regulating the consumption of cannabis.
The Court, however failed to address certain practical implications. In order to grow and cultivate cannabis, you must buy seeds from a Dealer. Purchasing cannabis and thus seeds are still illegal. It thus seems that when you exercise your right to consume cannabis in private, you will have to partake in illegal activities such as purchasing cannabis and other similar products from Dealers. Time will only tell how this will be addressed by Parliament, if at all.