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Clearing A Criminal Record for Dagga Use

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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What You Need to Know about the Legalisation of Dagga in South Africa

Many South Africans across the country celebrated the Constitutional Court’s decision to decriminalise the private use of dagga. Last month, the Court confirmed that by making the private use of marijuana by adults a criminal offence, the law breached the constitutional right to privacy. In the euphoria that swept the nation after the ruling, many people misinterpreted or misunderstood just precisely what the judgement meant and what the legal parameters are. There are a few essential things you need to know about the legalisation of dagga in South Africa before lighting your next “joint”.

What You Need to Know about the Legalisation of Dagga

1. It’s no longer illegal to grow, possess or use marijuana as long as it’s for personal use in private. It is, however, still illegal to sell or buy dagga from anyone or to smoke it in public.

2. Over the next 24 months, lawmakers still have to determine how much dagga a person may grow or possess for purposes of personal consumption.

3. Police can still arrest someone on a reasonable suspicion that marijuana isn’t for personal use. It is best not to grow or have large amounts on a person.

4. The ruling also allows someone to grow marijuana on a private premise. Regarding growing the plant, the exact definition of “private premise” has yet to be determined. Questions surrounding growing dagga in a private garden or apartment space are still up in the air.

5. It is illegal for anyone to drive a vehicle or occupy the driver’s seat of a motor vehicle while the engine is running on a public road while under the influence of intoxicating liquor or drug having a narcotic effect, so driving while “high” is still illegal.

6. The court’s decision to legalise dagga doesn’t allow employees to bring dagga to work. Employers still have to enforce Health and Safety Rules in the workplace and can’t let anyone under the influence stay at work. Drug tests are permitted, and employees could face disciplinary action.

Remember, before you light up, it’s best to familiarise yourself with exactly what the new law stipulates, and avoid circumstances that could lead to a run-in with the law.

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