The South African Parliament responded within a day to the High Court judgment that was served yesterday in Cape Town for Jeremy Acton and Co’s dagga cases. It’s worth noting that the judgment’s effective due process could literally take another 2 years to promulgate into existence. There’s also a 3 month Public Comment window period for any new acts or amendments to acts, yet the President has the power to accelerate this. Clearly there was no rush set out by Judge Davis for immediate remedial action, which would have been the ideal case.
Yesterday was a very weird day for South Africa. The cabinet reshuffle clouded the Mainstream Media’s newsfeed. For many that were privileged enough to get the news of the Cape Town High Court Judgement being handed down in favour of Jeremy Acton & Co’s case, have started celebrations early, maybe too early, or publically.
It’s worth noting that the judges decided that the “right to possession, or cultivation of cannabis in a private dwelling is for the personal consumption of the adult accused” and can be used in a “defence to a charge”. In order to get charged, one generally gets arrested first.
Jenny Evans from News24 states that: “For this, the judges decided that the right to use, grow or possess dagga in the privacy of one’s home can be used as a “defence to a charge”. The order does not specify whether the defence must be presented in court, or at the point of arrest, saying only “a charge”. “
For now it doesn’t seem like the order seeks any immediate relief for arrests going forward (until the new law or amendments are signed into act) or relief for past convictions, which makes all the very public celebrations premature and risky. The depth of the legal, social and economic ramifications of this decision is still being chewed on by those that are now tasked to write the regulations for this order.
Be careful out there. Don’t go post pictures of you and the ladies or your bag of green. They can still come and bust down your door and take your grow or stash, and then only after your house has been turned upside down and you have been arrested, will the onus be on you to prove that your grow/possession was for home and personal adult use.
For now, what this really means, is that ultimately you won’t go to jail for growing at home for personal use, if you can prove it. The victory is quite mild, and we need it really hot. Hopefully, The Dagga Couple’s case will crack things open further.
Does this mean that we have decriminalization of Cannabis in South Africa today? No.
Friday, 31 March 2017 – Parliament notes reports of the judgment today by the Western Cape High Court about the use of dagga in private homes and that the national legislature has 24 months within which to change sections of the Drug Trafficking Act and the Medicines Control Act.
Parliament is in the process of obtaining the judgment to study exactly what it says.
If the two laws mentioned have been found to be unconstitutional, then the Constitutional Court would have to confirm the judgment before Parliament can act. The state could also appeal the judgment.
Once litigation is finalised, the Constitutional Court confirms the judgment and Parliament is still required to rectify the defects identified in the laws there are several options for doing so, including:
- Dealing with the defects in terms of the Medical Innovation Bill, currently before Parliament and first introduced by the late Member of Parliament, Mr Mario Oriami-Ambrosini as a Private Member’s Bill.
- Parliament introducing a new bill
- The Executive introducing a new bill
Photo Cred: Nicky Newman