South Africa apex judicial arm, Constitutional Court on Tuesday ruled that the personal use of cannabis is not a criminal offence.
In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that the ban on private possession and consumption, and cultivation of the plant for own use is unconstitutional.
Activists who include members of the Rastafarian movement and traditional healers greeted the ruling with loud applause.
They have held marches over the years to demand that the law is changed to allow people to smoke ‘weed’, which is called ‘dagga’ in South Africa.
Several government departments, including the health and justice ministries, oppose its legalisation and warn of harmful effects.
Rastafarian, Garreth Prince and former Dagga Party leader, Jeremy Acton, brought the case asking the High Court to allow for the home use of marijuana.
The landmark ruling follows an appeal by the South African government against a lower court ruling, that legalised private dagga use, in 2017.
The government argued that legalising dagga was not in line with South Africa’s constitutional values, given that it could harm citizens.
South Africa is the third country in Africa to legalise cannabis, following Lesotho in September 2017, and in Zimbabwe in April this year.