In September 2018 News24 reported that South Africa's Constitutional Court legalised the private use of marijuana in the home, making SA the third country on the African continent to decriminalise cannabis.
The judgment was made by Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo, who stated that “the right to privacy entitles an adult person to use or cultivate or possess cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption.”
It might take up to two years before the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act and the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act will be amended with the ruling, and specific details like the legal quantity have yet to be fine-tuned.
Justice Zondo's decision was also made in light of global precedent, which has seen countries like Australia, Switzerland, Portugal and, most famously, the Netherlands legalise the substance. In Uruguay, consumers procure their cannabis from pharmacies!
So what does this mean for parents and kids?
The social media reactions around the country have been priceless:
So, yes parents, you are allowed to partake in your own home without the risk of legal action, but here are a few things you need to know before lighting up.
Are you a cannabis-using parent? Do your children know? Would you be okay with your child using weed when they reach the legal age? Has your opinion of weed changed at all since the ruling? Tell us by emailing to email@example.com and we could publish your letter. Do let us know if you'd like to stay anonymous.
1. It's still illegal if used outside the home
Yep, the ruling is quite clear on the in-the-home bit. It remains as illegal as ever to use, sell, and grow in public spaces. The grey area here is that when kept in a private space (like your pocket or bag), for private use even when leaving your home, your right to privacy still protects you from prosecution.
2. It's still illegal for persons under 18
It almost goes without saying but it must be said, children under the age of 18 are prohibited from using cannabis. Inside or outside the home. Period.
It may be legal in a number of countries around the world but we're all on the same page when it comes to minors.
3. Smoking around children is still a no-no
Just like cigarettes and alcohol, using weed around a child is unwise. Research shows that marijuana negatively impacts developing minds, with addiction more likely, and occurring at a faster rate, during adolescence.
A 2017 study of second-hand smoke from cannabis revealed that "exposure to second-hand marijuana smoke leads to cannabinoid metabolites in bodily fluids, and people experience psychoactive effects after such exposure."
- Also read: Children see, children do
4. You're always on call when you're a parent
Parents, who find it hard just getting in a toilet break, might want to reconsider using cannabis while the kids are home, considering unexpected accidents and emergencies require a sober mind.
Also good to note, the ruling was influenced by evidence that showed small amounts of weed has not been proven to be harmful to adults, so as a parent, you may want to stick as close to the small-amounts rule as possible.
- Also read: Does dagga make you a bad parent?
5. Just like alcohol and cigarettes, using cannabis is not advised during pregnancy
Sorry, moms-to-be, we know you probably weren't even considering it, but we had to put this out there. Studies have shown that cannabis may have adverse effects on the children of women who use weed during pregnancy.
Impaired brain development and an inability to hold sustained attention are among the possible side-effects. It may ease morning sickness but is it really worth the risk of harming your unborn baby?
Also read: Spliff impairs baby's development
6. It's still illegal to buy and it's not regulated
Another part about that law that falls in a grey area is that, although you are now able to consume cannabis at home without the risk of being locked up, it's still illegal to buy it.
Leaving many to wonder, how exactly you're supposed to get it without purchasing it illegally?
Only time and further fine-tuning of the legislation will tell.
Also, consider that weed is not regulated. Use the Forrest Gump box of chocolates theory here: "You never know what you're gonna get."
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