Following last year’s constitutional court ruling that decriminalised private marijuana possession and usage, the hype surrounding the booming weed industry is more than palpable. While the laws are still quite undefined, the South African government seems to be moving swiftly in terms of laying down the law in terms driving under the influence, the amount you’re allowed to grow and now they might soon be expunging the records of those with weed-related criminal charges too.
According to Justice and Correctional Services Minister, Ronald Lamola, people with certain cannabis-related criminal records can soon apply to have them expunged. The South African government is currently looking into legislative procedures in which to clean the records of those who have not appeared in court but have paid admission of guilt fine for marijuana possession. However, those currently serving out a sentence for marijuana possession will have to apply to President Ramaphosa for a pardon.
The court will only consider offences that occurred before last year’s ruling – meaning any offences charged after September 18, 2018, will not eligible. Before last year’s ruling – which saw the decriminalisation of the private use and growth of cannabis- users caught in possession faced jail time, paying hefty fines, or community service depending on the amount of cannabis found them. Those found guilty would also get a criminal record, preventing them from travelling, obtaining employment, starting a business and could take up to ten years or more to expunge.