The Western Cape High Court has declared the current cannabis laws in South Africa unconstitutional. Once the new measure takes effect, adults will have the right to use, grow or possess marijuana- better known as dagga in the country- in the privacy of their homes.
All three judges of the Cape Town High Court unanimously declared the laws regarding Cannabis to be unconstitutional and ruled that the South African government had 2 years to amend the laws about drugs and trafficking in favour of legalisation. (Read the full text here).
The final decision comes in response to a long-standing demand by marijuana advocates, led by well-known Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and the rasta Gareth Prince.
It is clear that this change in the South African cannabis laws is not synonymous with total freedom in the use of marijuana, but it is a step towards legalisation. And there are still some unresolved questions, such as what will happen to those citizens who were arrested on cannabis-related charges prior to the Western Cape High Court sentence or what the next step taken by Parliament to comply with the ruling will be.
According to Parliament´s official reponse, “Parliament is in the process of obtaining the judgment to study exactly what it says. If the two laws mentioned have been declared to be unconstitutional, then the Constitutional Court would have to confirm the sentence before Parliament can act”.
Therefore, in the event that the Constitutional Court finally confirms the judgment, Parliament would have several options to amend the law: dealing with the defects in terms of the Medical Innovation Bill, currently before Parliament; Parliament introducing a new bill or the Executive introducing a new bill.
It looks like we still have some time to wait before the doubts about cannabis decriminalisation in South Africa are resolved.