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Uncertainty remains on dagga ruling impact for employers, home-based businesses

The historic ruling by the Constitutional Court this week declared it unlawful for police to arrest an adult for using or growing weed in a private space.

Rastafarians smoke cannabis outside the South African Constitutional Court on 18 September 2018 before the ruling on the private use marijuana is delivered. Picture: Thomas Holder/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - Labour law experts say the decriminalisation of cannabis for adults in a private space does not mean companies cannot still dismiss employees for being intoxicated on the premises.

The historic ruling by the Constitutional Court this week declared it unlawful for police to arrest an adult for using or growing cannabis in a private space.

LISTEN: Why there’s big money in the legal marijuana industry

Although this ruling has been widely welcomed by traditional healers, social users and other groups, there remains uncertainty on how the new law will be applied.

Labour lawyer Greg Duncan says that a company still has the right to ask for blood tests if it suspects that an employee is intoxicated with cannabis.

"It’s really case-specific in terms of the employment operational requirements."

He says this is even if it is for medicinal usage and if it jeopardises safety.

But what happens if someone's home happens to be your office?

Law specialist Puke Maserumule explains: "If I run my business from my house and smoke it openly in my office, arguably it’s in private. But whether that still remains private become problematic."

Many parts of the ruling remain uncertain and criminal law experts and labour specialists say these aspects will only be clarified once tested in a court.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)