On 31 March 2017, the High Court in Cape Town gave a seminal judgment in the case of Prince v Minister of Justice and Constitutional Development and Others , in which it declared sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act No. 140 of 1992 (hereinafter referred to as the “Drugs Act”) and the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act No. 101 of 1965 (hereinafter referred to as the “MRSC Act”) invalid and unconstitutional. The court found that the provisions in the legislation limited the right to privacy of individuals, and that this limitation could not be justified.
The applicants sought a declaratory order that the provisions against the use of cannabis and the possession, purchase, and cultivation of cannabis for personal or communal consumption are invalid. In the event that the declaration of invalidity is suspended, counsel for the applicant asked the court for an order which would operate during the period of suspension preventing the arrest, detention and prosecution for the use, possession, cultivation and transport of small amounts of cannabis intended for personal use and a stay of prosecution and release of persons who are in detention pursuant to such proceedings.