Cannabis legalisation grows with South Africa ruling

19th September, 2018 by Amy Hopkins

South Africa has become the latest nation to legalise recreational cannabis use – but selling the drug remains a criminal offence.

South Africa is the latest nation to loosen its laws on cannabis

Yesterday (18 September), South Africa’s highest court – The Constitutional Court – ruled that adults can privately consume cannabis that they have grown. It will remain illegal to use cannabis in public, and to sell or supply it.

South Africa follows in the footsteps of Canada, where recreational consumption of cannabis will become legal on 17 October. However, Canada will also allow cannabis to be sold to recreational users.

The Constitutional Court ruled that South Africa’s ban on private cannabis growth and consumption was unconstitutional and impinged on an individual’s right to privacy.

The court pointed to a number of other “democratic societies based on freedom, equality and human dignity that have either legalised or decriminalised possession of cannabis in small quantities for personal consumption”.

Its decision was also influenced by the position of the South African Central Drug Authority, which claimed: “Alcohol is the substance that causes the most individual and societal harm”.

The news comes as Bloomberg reports that soft drinks giant Coca-Cola is “in talks” with Aurora Cannabis to co-develop beverages.

A number of alcohol players have already moved into the nascent industry – in August, Constellation Brands poured an additional US$4 billion investment into Canadian cannabis firm Canopy Growth Corporation. The Svedka Vodka maker acquired a minority stake in Canopy last year.

Meanwhile, Southern Glazer’s, the largest wine and spirits distribution group in North America, created a subsidiary exclusively for the representation of cannabis products in Canada after entering into a partnership with producer Aphria.

Most recently, fellow distributor Breakthru Beverage Group invested in Canadian cannabis producer CannTrust.

Beverage Trade Network will host a new conference in San Francisco next year to assess the “challenges and opportunities” cannabis presents to drinks.

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