ConCourt rules dagga legal for private use, but what is private?

The Constitutional Court has upheld the Western Cape High Court ruling that the private use of dagga is legal.

The ruling states that the possession, cultivation and use of dagga for private use is allowed in South Africa.

Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo made the ruling on Tuesday.

READ: ConCourt rules dagga legal for private use

But what is private use?

Speaking to Xolani Gwala, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University James Grant says the ConCourt did not define what private use was.

The concept of privacy is undefined and the only thing that we were given is that the Constitutional Court disagreed with the Davis judgment that the privacy provision needed to or that one needed to be in one's own dwelling in order to be in private.

Professor James Grant, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University

Here it has been widened, but one doesn't know what it really means? If there are two of you must it be hidden in an alley for it to be private? We don't know. That judgment doesn't seem to define it.

Professor James Grant, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University

He adds that in terms of the amount, the court was clear, not to draw any lines in this regard.

It said that the only line to be drawn is what to be considered reasonable. Now the only thing that could feed into determining what's reasonable for one's own consumption or not.

Professor James Grant, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University

I fear that the way it is open now for the police to be saying even if you are in possession of a minor amount, like four grams, if they want to arrest you for some other reason and they have no legitimate reason, they could say you are in possession of dagga.

Professor James Grant, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University

Now they need to say, well we think that you intended to sell about one or two of those grams so therefore you contravened the law.

Professor James Grant, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University

The professor adds that there was no reference to medicinal use.

The restriction that the court placed was on personal use, so you would be entitled to use it for medicinal purposes but the question that they have raised is, If somebody is using it for medicinal purposes and they are sick, well here is one of the other restrictions that the ConCourt placed on this - is that you have to cultivate it yourself if you are to use it or possess it.

Professor James Grant, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University

You cant buy it and you can't sell it, so if you are going to have it you need to have grown it yourself.

Professor James Grant, Associate Professor of Law at Wits University

Listen to the interview below:


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