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Legalization Measure Moves Forward In South Africa

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In September 2018 South Africa’s Constitutional Court issued a landmark ruling in which it determined that cannabis prohibition as it pertains to individual rights was unconstitutional. The Court deemed prohibition to infringe on the rights of individuals making use of the cannabis plant in private places.

As part of the Court’s ruling, which was unanimous, the prohibition of cannabis cultivation in a private setting for personal use was deemed to be unconstitutional. The three plaintiffs in the case argued that prohibition “intrudes unjustifiably into their private spheres” and the Court agreed.

“It will not be a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption.” stated Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo at the time.

Since that time lawmakers in South Africa have worked to codify the binding ruling into the nation’s laws, and the nation’s Cabinet determined in 2019 that the nation needed a national strategy for modernizing its cannabis policies, which eventually yielded the National Cannabis Master Plan for South Africa.

Following the 2018 Court ruling, cannabis advocates inside and outside of South Africa were hopeful that the nation would become a regional and international cannabis industry powerhouse. Unfortunately, the political process in South Africa has dragged on.

Advocates received good news in recent days when South Africa’s National Assembly passed an adult-use measure, as first reported by Marijuana Moment:

South Africa lawmakers have approved a long-awaited bill to legalize marijuana possession and cultivation by adults.

The National Assembly passed the legislation on Tuesday, setting the stage for possible concurrence by the bicameral Parliament’s National Council of Provinces.

It’s important for advocates to recognize that while this is a major milestone for cannabis policy modernization efforts in South Africa, there is still a lot of the process left to be completed. It’s unclear what changes to the measure may be on the horizon, and how long the political process will take to yield meaningful results.

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