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Dagga ruling raises questions over policing

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled that officers are no longer allowed to arrest adults in private spaces for using or growing dagga for their own use.

FILE: Rastafarians smoke cannabis outside the Constitutional Court ahead of the ruling on the use of dagga in private spaces. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - The dust is settling on the landmark dagga ruling, leaving questions on Wednesday morning about how the decriminalisation of the personal use and cultivation of cannabis by adults in private spaces will be policed.

The Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled that officers are no longer allowed to arrest adults in private spaces for using or growing dagga for their own use as it infringes on the right to privacy.

However, the apex court made it clear that dealing in dagga remains a criminal offence.

Criminal law expert Zola Majavu says that this judgment was very clear.

However, he’s acknowledged that it will be difficult for police to determine who is contravening the law and who is not.

"Upon prosecution, the court will have to decide based on the evidence Yes, it’s not going to be an easy thing."

The Constitutional Court has emphasised that dealing in dagga is still against the law, along with using it in public spaces, close to children or around non-consenting adults.

One of the applicants in this landmark ruling, Rastafarian Garreth Prince, says certain issues regarding the policing of the new law remain unclear.

"That’s something that would have to be ironed out with Parliament."

The apex court has ruled that it’s up to police to determine whether a person is a dagga user or a dealer, based on the quantity found in that person’s possession.

WATCH: ConCourt greenlights the green

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)