South Africa’s top court to rule on cannabis legalisation

S.Africa's top court to rule on cannabis legalisation

South Africa’s top court will rule Tuesday on whether private cannabis use should be legal, the climax of a case that has pitted officials against marijuana advocates and the judiciary.

A court in the Western Cape region ruled in March that a ban on cannabis use by adults at home was unconstitutional, effectively decriminalising it in the province that includes Cape Town.

But the justice, police, health and trade ministers are challenging the lower court’s ruling, arguing that “there is objective proof of the harmful effects of cannabis”, according to a Constitutional Court filing.

At the moment, possessing, growing or using marijuana — even in small quantities — can technically lead to jail time, a fine and a criminal record.

Three cannabis users facing prosecution for consuming the drug have argued to the Constitutional Court that the prohibition of cannabis “intrudes unjustifiably into their private spheres”, breaching their constitutional rights.

The court’s judgement will be delivered from 0800 GMT.

Previous court hearings on the emotive issue have drawn protests by those opposed to legalising cannabis, as well as by those in favour of decriminalisation.