Decriminalisation of recreational cannabis in South Africa

Parry C, Myers B, Caulkins J.

A South African Constitutional Court (ConCourt) ruling in September, 2018, upheld and extended the Western Cape High Court judgment, which found the criminalisation of home use and cultivation of cannabis by adults, as specified in the Drugs Act of 1992 and the Medicines Act of 1965, unconstitutional. Deputy Chief Justice Zondo stated that it will not be a criminal offence for an adult to use or be in possession of cannabis in a private place, although the amount a person can be in possession of will need to be decided by parliament. This is probably a sound legal decision. Furthermore, imposing criminal penalties—as opposed to just fines or other civil penalties—appears to be ineffective at reducing demand and can waste state resources. The initial judgement and its confirmation by the ConCourt, however, does not promote the legalisation of cannabis use, and it does not affect laws governing the trading, use, or possession of cannabis in public.