South Africa

It is unreasonable to impose criminal sanctions on children for using or possessing cannabis, lawyer argues

A female plants cannabis in the growing room of the “Hemp Embassy” store. (Miguel Medina, AFP)

  • The verdict on decriminalizing the possession and use of cannabis by children has been upheld.
  • The South Gauteng Supreme Court in Johannesburg has previously declared the provisions of the Drug and Drug Trafficking Act unconstitutional.
  • The Center for the Rights of the Child would like the Constitutional Court to uphold this order.

The lawyer representing the Minister of Justice and Penitentiary told the Constitutional Court that it was unreasonable and unfair to impose criminal sanctions for the use or possession of cannabis against children.

The Supreme Court must now decide whether the South Gauteng Supreme Court in Johannesburg was correct in declaring the provisions of the Drug and Drug Trafficking Act unconstitutional insofar as it criminalizes the use or possession of cannabis by children.

The Center for Child Law wants the Supreme Court to uphold this verdict.

On Thursday, the minister’s lawyer, Hephzibah Rajah, said the Children Act and the Drug Abuse Act offer less restrictive methods for treating children found in possession of cannabis.

He added that criminalization is not possible.

According to Rajah, the incarceration of a child in possession of cannabis was harsh compared to adults in similar possession.

He said:

This is not in the best interests of the child.

He said the minister would not “allow cannabis to be used and held by children” and said the government should take action and protect children from drug abuse.

“According to the Minister, it is unreasonable and equitable to criminalize the use and possession of cannabis by children when it has been decriminalized against adults.”

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According to a GroundUp report, in 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that children found guilty of trivial crimes, including possession or use of cannabis, could not be incarcerated.

The verdict came after the Constitutional Court ruled that the personal use of adult adults did not constitute a crime, News24 wrote.

However, the Supreme Court did not address children in its judgment.

The case began when four Krugersdorf children tested positive for dagga at school.

The children and their parents appeared before the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court, where they agreed to take part in diversion programs.

It was later revealed that all four children did not meet the conditions for diversion programs.

They were then referred to the Department of Social Development, where they were assessed by probation officers.

It has been suggested that children be given a compulsory residential diversion program for an indefinite period.

The children were released in February 2019 by an order of the Supreme Court.

Earlier on Thursday, Morgan Courtenay, a lawyer at the Center for Child Law, told Supreme Court judges that the case is not about whether children should be allowed to use or possess cannabis, but whether it is constitutionally permissible to criminalize children. be penalized. in order to prevent and deter them from using cannabis.

“This court must decide whether the Supreme Court was correct in its findings,” Courtenay said.

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He added that a criminal sanction cannot be justified when it comes to children under the guise of prevention and deterrence.

Courtenay said when a child is found in possession of cannabis, the child should not be dealt with by criminal justice.

He added that children, like adults, have no right to keep cannabis in their possession, but if they do, “the system needs to determine the cause and address the root cause”.

The verdict was upheld.


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It is unreasonable to impose criminal sanctions on children for using or possessing cannabis, lawyer argues

Source link It is unreasonable to impose criminal sanctions on children for using or possessing cannabis, lawyer argues

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