Man to challenge validity to dagga laws

2015-10-20 09:54


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Pietermaritzburg - A high court judge postponed the criminal trial of a Durban man who says he intends challenging the validity of South Africa’s dagga laws in the Constitutional Court.

Judge Johan Ploos van Amstel granted an order postponing the trial of Christian Mark-James Baker (23), of Glenashley, which was due to be held in Phoenix, pending the outcome of his Constitutional Court application.

However, the court order stipulates that Baker must institute his case in that court within 60 days, or else the criminal charges will be automatically reinstated.

Baker said in court papers he is following in the steps of a number of people in the Western Cape who have lodged similar challenges against the prohibition of the use of dagga by South Africans.

He said the word dagga is “highly sensitive and stigmatised” in this country and he wants to change that. “We have seen reactions to the word in South African society vary from disgust, anger and censure to laughter and even expressions of enthusiasm,” he said.

Baker said he was arrested on May 23 this year and appeared in court for the first time the following day, charged with possession and/or dealing in dagga.

“I have been smoking dagga for several years without harm. I smoke it and sometimes eat it for its known medicinal benefits, and as part of my personal and spiritual beliefs and practices. I regularly consume dagga seeds as part of my diet as a health supplement,” he said.

Baker, who said he is a member of The Dagga Party of SA, a registered political party, added dagga seeds are “not narcotic” and contain 24% protein. He alleges cannabis (dagga) is only prohibited “because it cannot be patented” and pharmaceutical companies stand to lose millions in revenue should the public insist on their right to use dagga for self-medication.

Asked to plead to the charges facing him in the Phoenix Magistrate’s Court, Baker pleaded not guilty, saying it was “not morally possible to admit to an alleged crime where there is no victim”.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  dagga  |  court

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