The High and Low of Cannabis

On 18 September 2018, the Constitutional Court unanimously confirmed the Cape High Court judgment that personal use of cannabis is not a criminal offence.


One may consume it at places other than one’s house, as long as it is in private and not in public.

The Court found that the criminalisation of cannabis was characterised by racism and that many indigenous South Africans used cannabis.

For many, the judgment is welcomed, as it makes little sense to allow the use and possession of alcohol and tobacco, only to criminalise cannabis. For certain religious groups and persons who make use of cannabis for medicinal reasons, the judgment is seen not only as a victory for various constitutional rights – such as rights to freedom of religion and privacy – but also as recognition of their heritage.

The Court has provided Parliament two years to make the necessary amendments to the Acts. Until the uncertainties surrounding enforcement and policing are clarified, one can:

  • Possess cannabis at home
  • Consume cannabis at home
  • Grow cannabis at home

Members are cautioned that one may NOT:

  • Consume cannabis in public
  • Distribute or sell cannabis
  • Allow minors to consume cannabis

For employers, it is crucial that clear guidelines and rules are set in the workplace to avoid employees using this judgment to justify the use, possession or cultivation of cannabis in the workplace.

Did you know?

The non-potent part of the plant – the stem – is used to manufacture paper, hemp rope, string, textiles and clothing.

Need more information?

If you would more information on this topic, please speak to one of our legal advisers by emailing or calling 0860 587 587.

Or find more information on our legal plans.

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