Dagga is prohibited on school premises, even if you are over the age of 18
- Western Cape Education Department has amended it's substance abuse policy to prohibit anyone, regardless of age from possessing or consuming dagga on school premises
- In 2018 the Constitutional Court decriminalised the private use and possession of cannabis by an adult
In September 2018, the Constitutional Court decriminalised the use and possession of dagga in private use by an adult, effectively allowing an adult to cultivate, possess and consume cannabis in a private space.
But how does the change in the legal status of cannabis, impact the possible use of the drug on school premises?
What does it mean for an 18 year old still at school? Would they legally be allowed to smoke a joint at break time, and do schools still have the right to restrict this in terms of its substance abuse policy?
Are schools allowed to impose punishment for something that the law would see as legal?
Paul-Michael Keichel, a partner at Schindler's attorneys who are experts in 'cannabis law' says it's not a crime for an adult or a child to be in possession of cannabis.
There was a judgment, the applications being the centre for child law. It said that you cannot afford children lesser rights than you do to adults. You can't be dragging children through the criminal justice system for their use, possession or cultivation of cannabis, because that would be misaligned with harms reduction strategies. Although the Constitutional Court limited it to adults, it's also no longer a crime for a child to use, possess or consume cannabis.Paul-Michael Keichel - Partner at Schindler's attorneys
Since the ConCourt's 2018 cannabis ruling, the WCED has noted an increase in instances at schools were learners were consuming dagga.
In 2021, 201 learners were tested for cannabis use, with 134 learners returning positive tests.
The department also received 50 expulsion recommendations for cannabis related offences, of which 13 have been expelled.
The Western Cape Education Department (WCED) says under no circumstances can a learner or adult bring cannabis on to the school premises.
Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond says they've amended their policy to make it clear that nobody, regardless of age is allowed to bring any drugs onto school grounds, including dagga.
A school is not a private space. It's regarded as a public facility. The general public has access and use of school facilities for a variety of reasons. There are minors at a school, and adults who may be non-consenting. We believe it's a public space, therefor the search and seizure guidelines we have in place in terms of a learner bringing cannabis into school still applies.Bronagh Hammond - Western Cape Education Department Spokesperson
The question still remains regarding the testing of those that are above the age of eighteen. Should they be excluded for the testing of cannabis? A person over the age of eighteen could've smokes something over the weekend in a private capacity. We are looking at possible legislative interventions to warrant the broaden of the scope of that regulation specifically.Bronagh Hammond - Western Cape Education Department Spokesperson
An eighteen year old for instance can drink alcohol, but can they drink it on school premises? No. If we test them, we can immediately see that they're under the influence. It's obviously destructive the the classroom environment. When it comes to cannabis it is more of a tricky situation.Bronagh Hammond - Western Cape Education Department Spokesperson
Learners and parents when engaging with the school, are going to subscribe to that school's code of conduct, so if the school decides that you're not allowed to have cannabis on the school premises, I think that's completely legitimate, because how else are you going to ensure that your school isn't becoming a place where cannabis changes hands or is consumed. It all comes down to a matter of policing.Paul-Michael Keichel - Partner at Schindler's attorneys
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