Why State's case against home dagga use was flawed - analyst

South African lawmakers now have 24 months to update the Drug Trafficking Act and the Medicines Control Act to reflect the new law on private cannabis use.

The landmark ruling was made in the Western Cape High Court on Friday making it legal for adults to possess, cultivate and smoke the plant in the privacy of their own homes.

The country’s “Criminal Prohibition of Dagga Act” made it illegal to grow, own, or use cannabis, but the High Court declared that law unconstitutional.

This finding will still have to be confirmed by the Constitutional Court.

UCT’s Centre for Criminology assisted in the case.

PHD student Anine Kriegler explains what other countries are doing in terms of drug policy and how this could inform South Africa’s stance on the plant.

She says policing the use of dagga has proven to have little effect and that arguments around the harm it causes could not be justified by the State.

The world has changed and a whole lot more countries are asking these questions and are coming to different conclusions than they did about 10 years ago.

Anine Kriegler, PHD student at UCT’s Centre for Criminology

The mistake that the State made in this case is they really tried to present cannabis as causing catastrophic harm. Some of what they said was selective and really not substantiated.

Anine Kriegler, PHD student at UCT’s Centre for Criminology

The point is whether it causes harm? The question is, what is the proportionate and appropriate and minimally invasive way to address those harms?

Anine Kriegler, PHD student at UCT’s Centre for Criminology

What the State had to do is not just prove there is a harm, but that the criminal law is the minimum necessary way to deal with this harm... it is not proportionate, it is not effective.

Anine Kriegler, PHD student at UCT’s Centre for Criminology

Take a listen to the full interview below:

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