THERE was much celebration around the country on Tuesday, September 18 after the Constitutional Court ruled that the use of dagga at a private home or dwelling is no longer a criminal offence.
Recreational marijuana users and people who use dagga for medicinal purposes said the ruling was a major breakthrough in the history of South Africa.
The highest court in the country ruled that the legislation banning the use and cultivation of dagga in private dwellings is a violation of privacy.
The court confirmed the 2017 Western Cape High Court judgement by Judge Dennis Davis that found the ban on dagga use at home was unconstitutional and against the user’s right to privacy.
Rastafarians around the country ululated and could be seen in high spirits outside the court on Tuesday.
A local Rastafarian and musician in Tongaat, Vejan Naidoo, said the decision of the court will remove cobwebs from South Africa.
“It must be made clear that while such a ruling is much needed in favour of decriminalisation, towards medical consumption, this does not mean that it can be used without restriction.
“There are long-term issues that should be considered as the high usage of dagga amongst the youth will definitely be affected.
“The onus is now on parents to monitor and guard youth from abuse and miseducation. Education on the subject is now critical, and schools should be far more vigilant when dealing with users, both medically and recreationally,” Naidoo said.
Tongaat lawyer Yogis Govender said people seem to be blowing the issue out of proportion.
“My personal view is that this will be quite complicated from a workplace perspective. In terms of occupational health and safety standards, company policies will be tested more so now, with regard to keeping the workspace safe — making sure employees are not inebriated.
“The issue is not whether the substance that you are using is legal or not, the issue is, are you fit for work after using the substance? For example, if you are using medication that causes drowsiness, etc. you cannot operate heavy machinery, regardless of the substance being legal,” Govender said.
She said employers are going to be reviewing their policies and employment contracts about illegal drugs, medicinal drugs, and the powers or authority to test employees.
Govender added: “Policies are currently in place in most companies, the new judgement will certainly make employers review existing ones, and their implementation.”
National co-ordinator for the Traditional Healers Organisation Phephsile Maseko said in a statement: “The Constitutional Court accepted medical studies from applicants lawyers which showed that alcohol caused more harm than dagga and that there is little data to show that banning of dagga would reduce harmful use.
“We will meet with the Cannabis Development Council of South Africa to discuss how this use will be regulated so that children and families are not directly affected by negligence. We will also educate healers on how they will have to implement and action the court judgement to benefit patients,” Maseko said.
Parliament issued a statement on Tuesday and said it will rectify constitutional defects in the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992 and the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act of 1965.
Moloto Mothapo said in a statement: “Parliament is in possession of the judgment and the relevant structures in Parliament will take a decision on the manner to give effect to the judgment.
“As required by the Constitution, the public will have an opportunity to make submissions during the processes in Parliament.”