CAPE TOWN, Sept. 18 (Xinhua) -- South Africa's Constitutional Court ruled on Tuesday that the cultivation and private use of cannabis is not a criminal offense.
The court ruled unanimously that the country's long-time ban on private possession and consumption, and cultivation of the plant for own use infringes upon the Constitution which gives all citizens the right to privacy.
However, the court said cannabis may not be consumed in public, nor distributed or sold, or used by minors.
The court gave Parliament 24 months to develop a law that will give more clarity in line with the ruling.
Parliament said in response that its relevant structures will take a decision on the matter to give effect to the judgment.
As required by the Constitution, the public will have an opportunity to make submissions during the processes in Parliament, spokesperson Moloto Mothapo said.
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said it has noted the ruling by the country's highest court.
The government recognizes the medicinal efficacies of cannabis, the DAFF said.
The DAFF and the Department of Health are developing guidelines for regulating the cultivation and manufacturing of cannabis and cannabis products, DAFF spokesperson Khaye Nkwanyana said.
As a result of the ongoing engagements amongst the different departments, the DAFF has already formally requested the Department of Health and the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to consider the necessary legislative amendments to allow for the commercialization of cannabis in South Africa, according to Nkwanyana.
Nkwanyana said the DAFF recognizes the developments around the world where various countries are decriminalizing cannabis either for medicinal use, recreational purposes or for both.
Canada is the recent country where its senate has passed the Cannabis Act in June this year. Countries such as Uruguay, Netherlands, Panama and a few others have long legalized the use of the plant. Lesotho and Zimbabwe have also decriminalize the cannabis cultivation and its use.