S Africa's top court legalises personal, private ganja use

Pexels  Isabella Mendes

South Africa's highest court has legalised the use cannabis and the growing of marijuana, known in Malawi as chamba, for adult private consumption.

They also cite medical research which suggests a link between heavy use of marijuana and psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia.

"Just last week the damning statistics showed an increase of 30,981 in drug-related crime, up from 292,388 to 323,369, and this week, there is a Constitutional Court ruling that would see efforts to decrease that number hindered".

"If a police officer finds a person in possession of cannabis and he or she thinks it is not for personal consumption, he or she will ask the person such questions as may be necessary to satisfy himself or herself whether the cannabis he or she is in possession of is for personal consumption", Zondo said.

For more on the Constitutional judgment on the legality of the private use of dagga, we are now joined in studio by our reporter, Mahlako Komane.

South Africa is a large source of herbal cannabis for the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

He however said the judgment was limited to private use of dagga by adults, adding that public use was still a criminal offence.

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In Malawi, marijuana remains illegal.

The court upheld a decision made the Western Cape High Court a year ago which ruled that personal use of marijuana should be legal.

The court gave parliament 24 months to change the law to reflect its ruling.

A South African marijuana strain called Durban Poison has been rated among the "20 greatest marijuana strains of all times", by the United States cannabis publication High Times.

It is possible that the ruling, by allowing users to grow their own marijuana at home, could undermine the stranglehold of powerful drug gangs that blight so many communities.

"In the case of cultivation of cannabis, the effect of this judgement is to decriminalise the cultivation of cannabis by an adult in a private place for that adult's personal consumption", he said.

South Africa is the third country in Africa to legalise cannabis, following Lesotho in September 2017, and in Zimbabwe in April this year.