When South Africa’s highest court gave its historic ruling that cannabis was to be decriminalized for personal use and cultivation, people began cheering and chanting in the public gallery. Though South African leadership has been opposed to cannabis, seeing it as harmful, the vote to decrim was unanimous.
Attorney Gareth Prince is the man who led the campaign to lift the ban on cannabis for religious use, which then led to the decision by the Constitutional Court of South Africa to decriminalize marijuana for private consumption and even cultivation. Prince believes cannabis should be taxed and regulated like alcohol.
When asked during a BBC broadcast if it was his Rastafari practice that led to his activism, he had this to say:
Rastafari is indeed my way of life, but us using cannabis is much wider and larger than us smoking cannabis. We are saying that cannabis is a very valuable natural resource for the people of South Africa and that we should be using that resource to advance the causes and the desires of our people. Cannabis has the ability to do that and we are saying there is absolutely no reason why governments should not be using this valuable resource.
The highest court in South Africa has now said that an adult can grow cannabis as long as it’s for personal use and grown in private. It also says that right to privacy “extends beyond the boundaries of a home.” In an unusual twist, they gave police officers the power to decide if the amount of cannabis in a person’s possession is for personal use or for dealing.
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Public use, selling the herb, or otherwise supplying it are still illegal in South Africa, where cannabis is known as “dagga.” Jeremy Acton is the head of the Dagga Party, which campaigns for the use of marijuana. He said that he thought the ruling didn’t go far enough and should have legalized carrying cannabis in public as well.
Still, South Africa’s brave new move is big news on the world stage, as more countries change their policies on cannabis, which has been realized as a medicinal, religious, fibrous, recreational plant of all trades. Though quantities of how much can be possessed or grown at a time were not included in the ruling, this makes South Africa the third country in Africa to implement cannabis-friendly laws, with Zimbabwe and Lesotho having medical marijuana laws in place already.