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The Real Cannabis Laws in South Africa

Cannabis often referred to as Dope or Weed, is a psychoactive drug that until recently has been classified as an illegal substance.

Cannabis laws in South Africa

Is Cannabis Legal?

In September 2018, Cannabis became legal in South Africa.

Most people rejoiced at the legalisation of Cannabis; however, the Constitutional Court’s ruling was not made loosely and without limitations.

The temporary limitations are within the ruling itself: “…adult citizen to use, possess or grow cannabis in private for personal consumption.”

“Adult”, “Private”, and “Personal”

The word “Adult” places an age limitation on the rule in the extent that the person who uses, possesses or grows cannabis must be older than 18 years of age.

“Private” to the ordinary person refers to a house or private dwelling, however, the Constitutional Court extended this term to include one’s person, car, or handbag.

Although the ruling was made for “Personal” use, it may be permissible to use cannabis together with friends and family given that they are consenting to it and over the age of 18 years.

What do I need to know about the new Cannabis Laws?

HOWEVER, although Cannabis has been legalised, it’s still illegal to use it in public spaces such as parks or casually in the street.

Additionally, in terms of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, growing Cannabis with the intention to sell and distribute it also remains illegal.

Medical Marijuana

Cannabis for medical purposes was exempted from these limitations as per the Government Gazette on 23 May 2019, however, this exemption carries its own limitations that the medical field must follow.

It’s these exemptions that gave many South Africans the false impression that the cannabis market is suddenly opening to all products - however, this is not true.

The Constitutional Court legalised Cannabis only to the extent of personal and private use, and left it in the hands of Parliament to pass a bill within two years of its ruling. This ruling will contain the regulations and all limitations that will be imposed on the use, possession and distribution of Cannabis.

Until such time that the Bill is passed, citizens who make use of this recreational drug must do so only within the above limitations passed by the Constitutional Court.


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