RECENTLY the Constitutional Court ruled that the personal use of marijuana (or commonly known as dagga) in a private space is no longer a criminal offence.
This ruling came in after the Western Cape High Court judgment that stated that the possession, cultivation and use of marijuana for private use was allowed.
Stating the Constitutional Court’s decision was not in line with the values of the country’s citizens, the state appealed this judgment.
While the personal use of marijuana has been decriminalised, it is still illegal to deal or sell it to others, or even smoke it outside one’s own home. In addition to that, the quantity of how much a person may use in private and the age restriction of use, is still to be decided by the government.
Speaking his views on these judgments a resident, Lennie Ramu said: “Maybe with weed now being legalised, the novelty of smoking pot will disappear. It was one of the first signs of being a rebel. It won’t hold the same attraction anymore, lessening the chances of trying something stronger, addictive, and deadly.”
A local organisation, the Anti-Drug Forum (ADF), which deals with the devastation and the impact of drugs at grassroots levels, met the Constitutional Court’s judgment with dismay.
Founder and director of ADF, Sam Pillay said: “I am devastated. It is a Constitutional right to smoke marijuana, but it doesn’t make it right. It’s mind boggling. We have such a major problem with social issues in our country; we just made it legal to make our social issues even worse.
“There will be many people rejoicing with these news; there are many people who are professionals who are responsible who smoke marijuana. But, there are thousands more who are negatively affected by this drug.”
Continuing with this train of thought, Pillay elaborated on his worries: “What I am concerned about is the increasing numbers of smoking by children. We see kids on a daily basis who are affected by it. We at the Anti-Drug Forum are very disappointed with this ruling, especially because we know it will create more problems in our communities that we don’t need, we have enough problems already.”
The forum, which believes that smoking both cigarettes and marijuana act as “gateway substances”, has in place early-intervention programmes that deal with pupils who experiment with drugs such as marijuana and nips potential addiction to more dangerous substances at the bud.