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South Africa Makes History as First African Country to Legalize Marijuana Use

On May 26, a day before South Africa’s latest elections, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the Cannabis for Private Purposes Act, making South Africa the first African nation to legalize marijuana use for recreational purposes. The law allows adults to grow and consume cannabis privately but does not legalize its sale for recreational use. The legislation also directs that everyone who has been convicted for marijuana use should have their criminal records expunged. The new legislation is seen as a victory for activists who have campaigned for years for the drug to be removed from the country’s outlawed narcotics list. The new law follows a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling that deemed private consumption constitutional. While some conservative segments of society view cannabis as dangerous, the new law marks a significant shift. The legislation could inspire other African countries like Eswatini, which is considering revising its cannabis laws to compete economically.