Yes, you cannabis … but for some it’s not bliss

2018-09-26 06:01

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THE Constitutional Court’s ruling that personal use of dagga is no longer a crime saw some celebrating on Tuesday while others called it “a disaster for South Africa”.

The Constitutional Court yesterday ruled that the possession, cultivation and use of dagga for private use is allowed. Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said in the judgment “the right to privacy is not confined to a home or private dwelling. It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private space”.

While many took to social media to welcome the decriminalisation of the private use of cannabis, others warned that the ruling would see South Africa go up in smoke.

The Cannabis Development Council of South Africa (CDCSA) chairperson Krithi Thaver said they were “ecstatic” and that the ruling was “a long time coming”. Thaver said people had been fighting to decriminalise cannabis for 12 years and to have it go from “totally illegal to being able to use it in private is almost unbelievable”.

He urged those worried about the judgment to “take time to do research”.

He added the ruling was an opportunity for the country to “become world-class leader in supplying high quality cannabis to the global market”.

He said the CDCSA aims to ensure access to “safe, affordable medicine for all” as well as an opportunity for economic upliftment, especially within the rural areas.

“The CDCSA seeks to create cannabis abundance through a transparent and prosperous industry that is self regulated and compliant with the laws of South Africa,” he said.

However, director of Harmony Retreat rehabilitation centre at Greytown, Gad Avnon, said he had been studying the long-term effects on cannabis users for 25 years and believes the ruling could spell disaster for the country. He said legalising the private use of dagga would not help substance abuse in the country and there would be difficulty regulating the use of it.

“I can see a major disaster is about to happen. People will be driving under the influence of cannabis, going to work and school after using it and management won’t have the power to regulate it. I see patients every day who have had psychotic breaks where they only used cannabis and no other drugs.

“They usually started using cannabis at around 17 and now at 30 [years], they have a psychotic break and will never recover from it,” he said.

South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) founder Caro Smit said she had recently been to a workshop where U.S.-based forensic toxicologist Dr James Wigmore spoke.

She said the active ingredients in cannabis and alcohol have the same effect. The active ingredient in cannabis is Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) while the active in ingredient in alcohol is ethanol.

“We are very concerned about the ruling. Cannabis stays in your body for much longer than alcohol. Our road deaths will go up as we find young people will be smoking and drinking and then driving.

“Our grandfathers’ cannabis is not our cannabis. The dagga grown today is 16-30% stronger than it was then.”

DEPUTY Chief Justice Raymond Zondo took the view that it should be left to Parliament to decide on the quantity of cannabis that an adult person may use, possess or cultivate in order for it to amount to “personal use”.

He said police would have to consider all circumstances, including the quantity of cannabis found in an adult person’s possession.

If the police officer, on reasonable grounds, suspects the person concerned is in possession of cannabis for dealing and not for personal consumption, the officer may arrest the person.

The courts will ultimately decide whether the person possessed the cannabis with the intent to deal (sell) or if it was for own consumption.

— Witness Reporter.

TWITTER users took to the social media network following the ruling to express their opinions and thoughts. Here are a few of them:

@AdvBarryRoux: “What will happen to those who were imprisoned for the possession of Dagga. #Dagga #Weed”.

@just_fentse21: “If you know you didn’t blaze before the Con Court judgment, don’t start now. You weren’t with us when we were risking our lives #Dagga”.

@Mandla_Sms: “So September the 18th will go down in South Africa as a national weed Independence Day. #Dagga”

@AdvBarryRoux: “Now we need Land to grow Dagga. The Struggle continues. #Dagga”

@_Hybreed: “Weed smokers do not attack or kill someone. They just want to buy snacks and relax. #Dagga”.

@Vucy_nene: “No more hero selfies for cops on newspapers. #Dagga”

— Witness Reporter.

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