The Rainbow Nation was even more colourful than usual over the past weekend after it emerged that the Government of South Africa had taken the first steps to permit cannabis use at home.
However, it may be around two years before this new ruling comes into full effect.
Last week, the government removed an old ruling which prohibited private, personal use of cannabis, after a rapid increase in related arrests in 2016. Official statistics revealed that around 260,000 people were arrested on cannabis offences in the country last year – which equated to nearly 15% of all arrests in South Africa during 2016. The political unrest combined with growing crime rates in South Africa have forced the governments hands with this ruling, as they try and reduce the flow of frankly unnecessary arrests for minor cannabis possession and allow their police force to focus on more serious crimes.
The new ruling was explains in layman’s terms to the media by pro-cannabis activist Julian Stobbs;
“If you are using cannabis in the privacy of your own home, or indeed if you have grown cannabis in the privacy of your home and it’s never left the building, you now have a loophole in the law that if you do get arrested and you do go in front of a magistrate, you can use the defense that you are hurting nobody, there was no victim, there was no crime, there’s no black market, there are no transactions, no one is making money out of this, you are using the cannabis you grew in the privacy of your own home,”
This is not the first time this year that South Africa has made the cannabis headline. In February, the government approved a bill permitting the manufacture of a limited amount of medical cannabis.
More news is expected of both of this year’s new rulings in the next two months.