In late 2018, people across the country celebrated the decriminalisation of marijuana use in South Africa. The Constitutional Court ruled that laws prohibiting South Africans from cultivating and smoking dagga in private were unconstitutional. Lawmakers now have to create new laws and regulations that give clarity on exactly what “private use” means and the amount of dagga that smokers are allowed to grow and have in their possession. While this is good news for many, those who had previously been found guilty of possession are wondering if and how their criminal records can be expunged.
Of course, this is a very legitimate concern, since a dagga possession conviction negatively impacts various aspects of life – from not being able to find employment to having issues travelling abroad. Not to mention, it negatively affects younger adults who were charged and convicted for what would now probably be considered an amount possessed for personal use and are currently struggling to find their feet in life.
If a criminal record related to a dagga conviction is more than 10 years old, and the accused hasn’t served jail time or committed any other crime, it would be possible for an application to be made to the Director-General of Justice and Constitutional Development, along with a police certificate that confirmed when the charge appeared on the criminal record. It would then be possible for a certificate of expungement to be issued and the Criminal Record Centre of the South African Police Service to remove the criminal record.
But, it gets a little more complicated with a conviction that is less than 10 years old. Many feel that it would be unfair for the law to require someone to wait a decade before they can apply to clear their record, especially in light of the laws criminalising dagga being unconstitutional in the first place. Activists and lawyers are seeking clarity from the Director-General
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LAW FOR ALL’s experienced lawyers can provide legal advice and guidance on matters relating to clearing your name. But for more information, read our blog on how to get a criminal record cleared!