efe-epaCape Town

A South African court on Friday handed down a landmark ruling that allows for the possession, cultivation and private use of cannabis by adults in their homes.

The Western Cape High Court declared that the ban on the herb, or "dagga" as it is commonly known in the country, represented an unconstitutional infringement on citizens' rights.

The issue was brought before the court by Rastafarian lawyer and cannabis advocate Garreth Prince, as well as the pro-legalization Dagga Party.

An epa photographer captured images of activists celebrating the decision outside the courthouse.

In one picture, a member of the Rastafari movement sporting dreadlocks _ a symbol for the Lion of Judah _ could be seen blowing smoke out his nostrils in celebration of the ruling that finally decriminalized pot in the African nation.

Several people held up a banner that read: "Legalize, Decriminalize _ Free The Herb."

The gathering was dominated by the colors red, yellow and green that make up the Ethiopian flag; Rastamen have traditionally used it as a symbol for their movement, which traces its origins to Afro-Jamaicans who wished to reclaim their African heritage.

The South African Parliament must now amend some of its drug laws _ sections of the Medicines Control Act and the Drug Trafficking Act _ within 24 months to reflect the court's decision.

Those laws made it a crime to possess dagga except for specific medical purposes.

Prince and the other plaintiffs had argued that the laws were discriminatory, as they were enforced disproportionately against black users.

Rastafarianism originated in Jamaica in the 1930s following the coronation of Emperor Haile Selassie I of Ethiopia, who claimed to be God incarnate and the returned Biblical Messiah.

For Rastafarians, cannabis is a sacred plant with a clear spiritual use, as they claim it is the Tree of Life mentioned in the Bible.