South Africa: Govt Considers Expunging Marijuana-Related Criminal Records

12 September 2019

Cape Town — The Department of Justice is working on new laws around the legalisation of marijuana in South Africa, and is considering amendments to expunge the criminal records of people who have been caught using the substance in the past, according to Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, who was speaking at a parliamentary Q&A session.

According to City Press, the minister said this would apply to those people who paid admission of guilt fines and not to those who appeared in court.

However marijuana activist Myrtle Clark is calling for all records to be expunged.

In September 2018, the Constitutional Court ruled that it is not a criminal offence for an adult citizen to use, possess or grow marijuana in private, for personal consumption.The court gave parliament 24 months from the date of the judgment, to bring the ruling in line with South African laws, with a new bill expected to be released soon.

Until some of the many grey areas in the regulation of cannabis have been clarified, the following has been outlined by Julie Oppenheim, a partner at law firm Bowmans, on the basic legal position on marijuana in South Africa.

You may use it for your personal recreational or medicinal use, alone or with friends and family over the age of 18, in spaces not open to groups other than your own.

Grow only as much as necessary for your personal use; where unsure, rather be conservative.

Other than in the case of specific health supplements and processed hemp fibre detailed above, buying and selling marijuana or any Marijuana-containing product is currently not legally permissible.

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