Marijuana  (dagga/cannabis) – legal or illegal?


Marijuana (dagga/cannabis) – what you need to know about the Legalizing of marijuana in South Africa

In September 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that it is not a criminal offence for an adult citizen to use, possess or grow cannabis in private for personal consumption. The court gave parliament 24 months from the judgment date to bring the ruling in line with South African laws, with a new bill expected to be released soon.

The cannabis plant comprises two main compounds – Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and Cannabidiol (CBD), listed as schedule 7 substances in term of the Medicines Act. THC is considered the psychoactive component of cannabis, whereas CBD is not associated with psychoactive outcomes. The government notice removed CBD from schedule  7 and listed it as a schedule 4 drug sold by pharmacists when presented with a prescription.

The judgment expanded private use, possession or cultivation of cannabis beyond a home or private dwelling. This would not extend to spaces used by other groups or the broader community, such as a park or the street.

In short:

  • You may use it for your personal recreational or medicinal use, alone or with friends and family over the age of 18, in spaces not open to groups other than your own.
  • Grow only as much as necessary for your personal use; where unsure, rather be conservative.
  • Other than in the case of specific health supplements and processed hemp fibre detailed above, buying and selling cannabis or any cannabis-containing product is currently not legally permissible.

Judge Raymond Zondo said in his ruling:

“If a police officer finds a person in possession of cannabis and he or she thinks it is not for personal consumption, he or she will ask the person such questions as may be necessary to satisfy himself or herself whether the cannabis he or she has is for personal consumption.

If having heard what the person has to say, the police officer thinks that the explanation is not satisfactory, he or she may arrest the person. Ultimately, it will be the court that will decide whether the person possessed the cannabis for personal consumption.”

Note: According to the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992, anything under 115 grams can be successfully argued as being possessed for personal use.

Is it now legal to use marijuana as an employee?

Alcohol is a legal substance, yet you may not turn up for work under the influence of alcohol. Legalizing the personal use of marijuana does not give employees a licence to attend work under the influence of marijuana. Consumption of marijuana impairs an employee’s ability to work to the employer’s standard, care, and skill. If workers’ cognitive abilities are impaired, they could pose a risk to themselves and others when it comes to operating machinery, driving a vehicle or performing other dangerous work. The employer is entitled to take disciplinary action against the employee.

How does marijuana use affect school, work, and social life?

If you are minor and studying for exams, you should NOT be taking cannabis. The teenage brain is still developing in a way that could be adversely complicated by cannabis use. There are compelling medical reasons against it.

Considerable evidence suggests that students who smoke marijuana have poorer educational outcomes than their non-smoking peers.

Research has shown that marijuana’s negative effects on attention, memory, and learning can last for days or weeks after the drug wears-off acute effects, depending on the person’s history with the drug.  Consequently, someone who smokes marijuana daily may be functioning at a reduced intellectual level most or all of the time.

The use of cannabis is associated with reduced chances of graduating, according to 48 relevant studies done on the subject.

A recent analysis using data from three large studies in Australia and New Zealand found that adolescents who used marijuana regularly were significantly less likely than their non-using peers to finish high school or obtain a degree.

A cannabis study done in Texas scans of the brain revealed that smoking cannabis every day was associated with shrinkage in the orbitofrontal cortex (OFC) region of the brain, which is involved in mental processing and decision making.

It also influences responses to rewards and adversity and is strongly linked to empathy – the ability to sense other people’s feelings. Neuroscientists believe the damage to the orbitofrontal cortex may underpin some forms of psychopathy.

What are the effects of marijuana use?

Acute (present during intoxication)

  • Impaired short-term memory
  • Impaired attention, judgment, and other cognitive functions
  • Impaired coordination and balance
  • Increased heart rate
  • Anxiety, paranoia

What does this mean?

It is still a criminal offence for any person under 18 to smoke weed or have it in their possession. You can end up with a criminal record.

As an employee, you are still not allowed to have traces of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC / weed)  in your blood or urine, and if you test positive, you can lose your job.

The bottom line if you are a student:

  • You concentrate better if you don’t smoke weed.
  • Your short term memory which retains information, is better if you don’t smoke weed.
  • Your focus to write an exam is better if you don’t smoke weed.
  • Your chances of finishing school or university are higher if you don’t smoke weed

For more information, click on  marijuana


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If you need legal assistance on a controlled substance matter: Anton Crouse Attorney


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