The Ugandan Constitutional Court has ruled that the law prohibiting the use of marijuana and miraa, a plant commonly chewed for its stimulant effects, is unconstitutional, effectively legalizing their use in the country.
In a landmark ruling, the court found that the law prohibiting the use of marijuana and miraa violated the right to privacy and personal autonomy, and was therefore unconstitutional.
“The right to privacy and personal autonomy is a fundamental human right, and the state cannot infringe upon it without a compelling reason,” the court said in its ruling.
The decision has been welcomed by advocates of drug policy reform, who argue that the criminalization of marijuana and miraa has led to the stigmatization and marginalization of users, as well as an increase in drug-related crime.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for human rights and common sense,” said Dr. Jane Aceng, Uganda’s Minister of Health. “It recognizes that drug use is a health issue, not a criminal one, and that people who use drugs should be treated with respect and dignity.”
The ruling does not mean that the use of marijuana and miraa is completely unrestricted in Uganda. The court has directed the government to develop regulations for the production, distribution, and use of the two substances, in order to prevent their abuse and protect public health.
“The government has a responsibility to regulate the use of marijuana and miraa in a way that minimizes harm and maximizes public benefit,” the court said.
The ruling has been met with mixed reactions from Ugandans, with some welcoming the decision as a step towards greater freedom and autonomy, while others express concern about the potential for increased drug use and related harm.
“I think it’s a good decision, because people should have the right to use what they want,” said Simon Mugisha, a Kampala resident. “But we also need to be careful to make sure that people don’t abuse these substances and that they are used responsibly.”
The government has yet to release a statement on the ruling, but it is expected that new regulations for the production and use of marijuana and miraa will be developed in the coming months.