September has been a landmark month for the cannabis legalization movement. Earlier this month a bill was introduced by the United States Senate to legalize cannabis use for military veterans. This week, on September 18th, South Africa legalized cannabis for what they call adult “private use.”
“It will not be a criminal offense for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in private for his or her personal consumption,” Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo said.
The provision makes cannabis legal to grow and consume as long as the person is on their own property. However, it is still illegal to sell and consume off of your property. Currently, the police officer who finds a person to be in possession of cannabis will be the one to decide if the cannabis in question is for personal use or if they have the intent to distribute.
Cannabis is effectively decriminalized in South Africa effective immediately, but the government still needs to write the bill into the law and has two years to do so.
This is not the first time the country has ruled in favor of legalizing cannabis. It made a similar ruling in 2017 but the decision was appealed, and no changes were ever implemented.
South Africa is the third country on the African continent to make some headway toward legalization. Lesotho lead the charge by issuing licenses to cultivate cannabis in 2017. Zimbabwe legalized cannabis for medical purposes in April of 2018.
Legalized cannabis is sweeping the United States with 46 states having some level of legal cannabis provisions on the books and it is exciting to see legalization begin to take hold globally as well.