Man’s bid to legalise dagga

2015-03-10 00:00

A HOWICK man wants the Constitutional Court to uphold the rights of all South Africans to use dagga.

John Lawrence Strydom (44) — against whom criminal charges of illegally possessing and cultivating dagga were recently provisionally withdrawn — said in an affidavit before the high court yesterday he wants to “destigmatise” the word dagga and “give the dagga plant its original name and rightful place in society” for the benefit of all the country’s citizens.

Strydom says he has been “eating and smoking” dagga for 28 years “without harm” to himself.

His comments were made when he applied to the high court to have his criminal case in the Howick ­magistrate’s court stayed pending finalisation of a Constitutional Court challenge against the Drugs and Trafficking Act and Medicines and Related Substances Act, and to declare the prohibition of dagga use to be a violation of South Africa’s Bill of Rights.

However, Acting Judge Piet Bezuidenhout yesterday adjourned the matter sine die (indefinitely) after the criminal charges were provisionally withdrawn against Strydom.

He was told if the charges are re-instated he should apply to the magistrate’s court for a stay of prosecution, and then pursue his Constitutional Court case.

Strydom, of Freelands Farm, said he is a member of Iqela Lentsango (The Dagga Party of South Africa), which is a registered national political party.

“I am dedicated to building a culture and spirituality that is centred upon the dagga tree as a direct personal access to communion with the Creator, without the need for membership or formal religious structures and their prescriptions,” he said in his affidavit.

Strydom said he has been using dagga for 28 years for its “known medicinal benefits and as part of my own personal spiritual beliefs and practices”.

He said he makes medicine from the plant extract for his own health ­“issues” and when necessary “to share freely” with terminally ill people who rely on dagga medicine to survive or have some quality of life.

He said dagga seeds are not narcotic. They contain up to 24% protein and all amino acids necessary for human nutrition, he maintains.

He alleges that dagga (botanical name being cannabis), is “only prohibited because it cannot be patented and because it is estimated that pharmaceutical corporations would lose millions in revenue should the public insist on their rights to access cannabis for purposes of self medication”.

Strydom was arrested and charged last November after police raided his farm in response to a tip-off. Dagga worth R663 000 was reportedly seized.

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