The Supreme Court of South Africa has legalized the individual use of marijuana, to the joy of activists who have been advocating for such a move for quite some time. The judge’s ruling means that private use of the drug will no longer be considered as a criminal act. The legalization of marijuana use has created a feeling of relief to adults who consume it, and will lead to a reduction of those who charged and thrown in jail for being an individual caught using marijuana in a private setting.
Only two other countries in Africa have legalized marijuana use, first Lesotho and then Zimbabwe earlier this year 2018. The aim of the legalization was to ease the burden for those who use it for medicinal purposes. Rules have been set in place, making it mandatory to have obtained a license before being able to sell dry cannabis and oil material.
The recent act was supported by the Rastafarian community in South Africa, as they will be able to practice their traditional healing with minimal threat of police action. However, there are still some who are opposed to the act, with their main concern regarding the youth using the marijuana. Drug abuse by young kids, a fear of legalization contributing to the deterioration of society, and concerns of how abuse of the drug will affect youth’s education. The next step after the criminal code was struck down is to have the government provide regulation of the use of weed in the society.
Education of society in general about the use and effect of marijuana is important, and lacking. Conducting general surveys to understand what individuals know about its uses as a drug or a medicine, and creating some workshops hosted by doctors to educate the community in what concern the effect of marijuana on the body can help give a big picture to society and guide government regulation. Engaging with the society with up-to-date research on the plant and it’s effects is an area where the surface of which has barely been scratched on a large scale on the continent. Still, others have slowly begun to follow the suit by starting the process of a societal shift in attitude towards marijuana. Rumors of marijuana legalization have been explored in countries like Ghana, which has been recently been debating the merits of such a move. South Africa’s move has yet to prove to be a domino effect, but the jury is still out as to whether it can prove to be one of the pioneers on this subject in Africa. Will Ghana will be influenced by Lesotho, Zimbabwe and South Africa to make marijuana available? We will see in the future.
By : Yussuf Yanni