Local man seeks legalisation of marijuana

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Harare (New Ziana) – A Harare man has approached the High Court seeking an order legalising the cultivation, possession and recreational private use of marijuana by adults, court documents show.

In 2018, Zimbabwe legalized marijuana farming—not for recreational purposes, but for medicinal and scientific uses.

In an application lodged with the High Court on Wednesday, Tapiwanashe Mukandi said as a prospective user of cannabis, he was challenging the law which deemed cannabis as a dangerous substance and drug.

Citing the Ministers of Health and Child Care, Justice Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, and Home Affairs, Mukandi argued that the laws criminalizing the use, possession, cultivation and consumption of cannabis in Zimbabwe infringed on his rights to privacy, equal protection and benefit of the law, as well as to bodily and psychological integrity.

“This is so because cannabis users are not extended the same benefit and protection that users of more harmful and dependence-producing substances such as alcohol and tobacco enjoy. To penalize cannabis users for engaging in a practice that is no worse than tobacco smoking and alcohol is profoundly disrespectful of human personality and violates the equal protection and benefit clause. If users of other more dangerous substances such as alcohol and nicotine are permitted to possess and consume alcohol and nicotine, it follows that users of less dangerous substances should be allowed the benefit of the law in this respect,” read part of the application.

“For the avoidance of doubt, I desire and intend on using, possessing, cultivating, and consuming cannabis in private and/or in a place I consider private. That is, I seek to use cannabis recreationally should the laws I am challenging be struck down.”

The applicant said he wanted the court to strike down provisions which criminalised the cultivation, possession and/or use of cannabis including section 157 (1) (a) and (b) of the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act (Chapter 9:23) and section 3 as read with Section 6 of Dangerous Drugs Act (Chapter 15:02).

“In essence, I am seeking a declaratory order to the effect that the challenged provisions are unconstitutional as they infringe on my aforementioned constitutional rights and the infringement is unfair, unreasonable, unnecessary and unjustifiable in a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and freedom,” he said.

“Cognizance should be taken of the fact that I only challenge the cannabis laws stated herein, as being unconstitutional to the extent that they criminalise the possession, use and cultivation of cannabis in private by an adult for his or her personal consumption. This also includes any ancillary act that enables the cultivation, possession or use of cannabis in private by an adult for his or her personal consumption such as-the delivery, offering or incitement to use of such cannabis by another adult to another adult for his or her own personal consumption in private.”

In 2018, the Constitutional Court in neighboring South Africa passed down a judgment making it legal for adults to cultivate and smoke marijuana in their homes.

The court—the country’s highest—ruled that the right to privacy was violated by prohibiting the possession, purchase, or cultivation of cannabis for personal consumption by an adult in a private dwelling.

The case was pursued by various parties, including a Cape Town lawyer, Gareth Prince, who is a practising Rastafarian.

It was opposed by, among others, the country’s ministers of Justice and Constitutional Development, Police and Health, the country’s National Director of Public Prosecutions and the NGO Doctors for Life International.
New Ziana

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