South Africa made history by becoming the first African nation to legalize cannabis for personal use with the Cannabis for Private Purposes Act. This groundbreaking legislation allows adults to grow and consume cannabis at home, marking a significant shift in the country’s drug policy.

While the sale of cannabis remains illegal, with medical use as the only exception, this development has sparked a national conversation. To gauge public opinion, Real Research, an online survey app, conducted a survey to understand public perspectives on South Africa legalizing cannabis.

Key Findings:

  • The public is pretty much 50/50 for and against South Africa’s legalization of cannabis for personal use.
  • Almost 60% agree past cannabis offenses should be cleared.
  • Nearly 58% think taking it slow on weed shops is a good call for managing any risks.

South Africa Legalizes Marijuana for Personal Use

In South Africa, President Cyril Ramaphosa signed the ‘Cannabis for Private Purposes Act,’ legalizing marijuana for personal use and finally removing cannabis from the country’s list of outlawed narcotics. The legalization of marijuana in South Africa regulates how adults can cultivate, possess, and consume cannabis for personal use.

Figure 1: Respondents’ stance on South Africa legalizing cannabis for personal use.

The survey revealed a population that’s both informed and divided on South Africa legalizing cannabis. While the majority (63.42%) were aware of the new law, the rest (36.58%) remained uninformed.

When asked about their stance, the results were nearly split down the middle. South Africa legalizing cannabis garnered support from 50.72% of respondents, while 49.28% opposed it.

Buying Weed is Still a No-Go

Despite legalizing marijuana for personal use, the sale of cannabis and the creation of a legal market remain prohibited, unless for medicinal purposes. There is currently no lawful way to acquire cannabis for recreational use except by growing it yourself.

A policy analyst believes South Africa’s cautious approach to commercial cannabis sales might help it avoid a situation like Thailand’s, where lawmakers are now threatening a U-turn to its cannabis use due to rising public health concerns.

Figure 2: Should South Africa consider legalizing the commercial sale of marijuana?

Although 58.24% believe South Africa should consider legalizing the commercial sale of marijuana, another 57.96% believe South Africa’s cautious approach to commercial sales will be effective in managing potential risks.

Clean Slate for Past Potheads?

The expungement of prior marijuana-related convictions also received broad backing, with 58.54% believing it’s a necessary step in South Africa legalizing cannabis. Apparently, the bill also stipulates that those who committed cannabis-related offenses before the legalization of marijuana should have their records automatically wiped clean.

Are the Rules Fair or a Buzzkill?

Figure 3: Are South Africa’s regulations regarding cannabis use appropriate?

However, opinions diverged regarding the regulations. As per the law, public consumption, failing to ensure cannabis plants are inaccessible to children, exceeding cultivation and possession limits, or not complying with cultivation standards will result in penalties, including fines and imprisonment.

While nearly 40% found the regulations regarding cannabis use in South Africa appropriate, others felt they were either too strict (21.94%) or lenient (38.14%). Nonetheless, over 61% of respondents believe South Africa legalizing cannabis could be a trendsetter for the rest of Africa.


Survey TitleSurvey on South Africa Legalizing Cannabis for Personal Use
DurationJune 19 – June 28, 2024
Number of Participants5,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.