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Is Weed Legal in South Africa? (April 2024)

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Yes, South Africa legalized cannabis back in 2018 through a constitutional court ruling.  The country has also decriminalized the personal use of cannabis by adults in private residences.

Cannabis has a long history of traditional use in South Africa, particularly among certain ethnic groups. It has been used for various purposes, including medicinal, spiritual, and recreational use. Indigenous communities have employed cannabis for its therapeutic properties, using it to treat ailments and promote well-being. It has also been incorporated into cultural rituals and ceremonies, where it holds spiritual significance.

About South Africa

South Africa is located at the southernmost tip of the African continent and is home to the Cape Floral Kingdom, one of the world's six floral kingdoms and the smallest and richest in biodiversity. South Africa holds significant importance in the study of human evolution. The Cradle of Humankind, a UNESCO World Heritage Site located near Johannesburg, is one of the richest fossil sites in the world. It has yielded numerous important hominin fossils, including the famous discoveries of Australopithecus africanus and the early human ancestor Homo naledi.

Cannabis in South Africa is known by various local names, reflecting the rich cultural heritage and diverse languages across the country. Some common local names include “dagga,” “kwaaiba,” “ganja,” and “mbange.”

Is Cannabis Legal in South Africa?

In South Africa, the legal status of cannabis has undergone significant changes in recent years. In 2018, the Constitutional Court legalized medical cannabis and also decriminalized the personal use and cultivation of cannabis for private consumption by adults. This landmark ruling allows individuals to possess and cultivate cannabis within certain limits for personal use. However, the commercial sale and distribution of cannabis remain prohibited, except for specific circumstances such as medical use.

Can You Grow Weed in South Africa?

With the decriminalization of personal cultivation, adults in South Africa are now permitted to grow cannabis plants for their own consumption. However, there are restrictions on the quantity of plants and the cultivation should be done in a private, non-public space. Commercial cultivation requires licenses and compliance with regulations set by the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority (SAHPRA).

Historical Use of Cannabis in South Africa

Historically, cannabis has been cultivated in South Africa using traditional methods. It has been grown in both rural and urban areas, often in small-scale operations. Traditional cultivation practices have involved utilizing local landraces and heirloom varieties adapted to the local climate and conditions. Seeds have been passed down through generations, preserving unique genetic traits. Traditional drying and curing methods have been employed to prepare cannabis for consumption or other purposes.

Are Hemp and CBD Legal in South Africa?

South Africa recognizes the distinction between cannabis and hemp. Hemp refers to cannabis plants containing low levels of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive compound. Hemp cultivation for industrial purposes, such as fiber, seeds, and CBD extraction, is permitted under specific licensing and compliance with regulations set by SAHPRA.

What is the Future of Cannabis in South Africa?

The cannabis industry holds significant economic potential for South Africa. The legalization of personal use and cultivation has opened opportunities for small-scale growers, creating jobs and generating income. Moreover, the potential for commercial cultivation, particularly for medicinal purposes, presents prospects for investment, export, and economic growth. The production of hemp, a non-intoxicating variety of cannabis, can contribute to various sectors, including textiles, construction materials, and health products. The growing demand for CBD (cannabidiol), a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis, also offers economic opportunities for the production of CBD-based products.

South Africa has experienced significant developments in cannabis legislation, allowing for personal use and cultivation while maintaining restrictions on commercial activities. The traditional use of cannabis, diverse local names, and traditional cultivation practices highlight the cultural significance of the plant. The cannabis industry, including hemp and CBD, holds economic potential, contributing to job creation, investment, and various sectors within the country.


Lydia K. (Bsc. RN) is a cannabis writer, which, considering where you’re reading this, makes perfect sense. Currently, she is a regular writer for Mace Media. In the past, she has written for MyBud, RX Leaf & Dine Magazine (Canada), CBDShopy (UK) and Cannavalate & Pharmadiol (Australia). She is best known for writing epic news articles and medical pieces. Occasionally, she deviates from news and science and creates humorous articles. And boy doesn't she love that! She equally enjoys ice cream, as should all right-thinking people.