The constitutional court of the Republic of South Africa made a pivotal ruling last week making it legal for adults to grow, possess and consume cannabis in private.
This case reached the constitutional court after a regional court in Western Province (the province in which the Federal capital of the country is found) ruled that the law banning the use of dagga (the local term for marijuana) by adults in private was unconstitutional.
The government appealed that decision before the highest court on the matter, and Deputy Chief Justice Zondo delivered the binding ruling in favor of the decriminalization of private personal growth, possession and use of marijuana. This reaffirmed the decision of the lower court.
The government is now left with no other option than to implement the ruling.
Indeed, the court gave the legislative arm of the government 24 months within which to come up with an enabling law that will actualize the constitutional court’s ruling.
For example, that law will define how much cannabis someone can have for personal use. The number of plants that an adult can grow for his or her personal, private use will also be clarified once the requisite law is passed by parliament.
In the meantime, cannabis users can point to the court’s ruling as their protection while found cultivating, using or in possession of cannabis in private. Any public possession or consumption of marijuana remains illegal.
It should be noted that various sections of the government, such as the health department and law enforcement, opposed cannabis decriminalization, saying that it posed health risks and could pave the way for people to graduate to stronger substances/illicit drugs. The court has rendered those arguments moot.
South Africa becomes the third country in Africa to permit some form of cannabis use. Lesotho took the honor of being the first country on the continent to legalize medical cannabis last year. Zimbabwe followed suit this year in April. Globally, Uruguay took the lead in legalizing cannabis in 2013.
This small number of African countries in which marijuana is legal in some way is baffling given that approximately 10,000 metric tons of cannabis are cultivated on the continent each year.
The picture is no different across the world ,with possession or consumption of cannabis attracting the death penalty in Saudi Arabia, while Canada is just days away from starting the retail sale of recreational cannabis after allowing the medical use of marijuana years back.
Are the winds of change blowing firmly in favor of the cannabis industry across the world? Choom Holdings Inc. (CSE: CHOO) (OTCQB: CHOOF) and Earth Science Tech, Inc. (OTCQB: ETST) must be hoping that the legal hurdles to the availability of medical cannabis are removed so that the public can reap the benefits that this often controversial plant has to offer.
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