Legalise, don't criticise

2017-04-02 07:44
The Cape Town High Court this week authorised the private use of dagga after a long fight by Rastafarians and others in the country, Picture: Tebogo Letsie

The Cape Town High Court this week authorised the private use of dagga after a long fight by Rastafarians and others in the country, Picture: Tebogo Letsie

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Some amaMpondo people, famous for growing dagga on hillsides in the Eastern Cape, are as excited as marijuana users can get after the Cape Town High Court’s ruling to legalise the private use of the maligned herb.

Known in Pondoland as igolide yamaMpondo, the herb is grown around almost all villages in the area, including Port St Johns, Lusikisiki, Ntabankulu, Libode, Ngqeleni and Mbizana.

In the landmark ruling, the court said that the use of dagga by adults in private homes cannot be banned, and said it was okay to cultivate and keep it at home.

After an application driven by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Acton and Rastafarian Garreth Prince, the court also ruled that government had two years to make changes to sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, as well as the Medicines and Related Substances Act.

On Friday, villagers in Mbizana were ecstatic after hearing the news.

Alfred Bazi, 48, said: “Dagga is good. It has never killed anyone. I don’t know why they took so long to legalise it. This is a good decision that the court made.

"At least amaMpondo can now grow their dagga in peace without being harassed by the police.”

Bazi, who is from the Mbizana village of Emazweni, used to smoke dagga, but insisted he had quit. He said the herb made one peaceful when high.

“They must legalise it and see how much peace there will be out there. Dagga smokers are very peaceful people. They are not violent.

"They are only preoccupied about the world they are in when they are high – which is really of fantasising about a lot of things, such as wishing you could have a large piece of land where you can just grow dagga,” he said.

"Dagga is good"

Sipho Ndzimande, 34, who is from Nomlacu village, echoed Bazi’s sentiments, adding that dagga was also good for medicinal use.

“We don’t only smoke dagga here in Pondoland – we also use it when we get sick. For instance, when you have chest pain, you boil dagga with water as if you are making tea out of it.

"Then you drink that dagga tea and, in no time, you feel your chest opening up and become alive again,” he said.

Ndzimande said he was happy the court had finally realised that there was nothing wrong with the herb.

“The only thing that should be criminalised is alcohol because that is what is killing the nation.

"Dagga is good – even if you smoke it, you don’t think about going out and hurting someone. All you are concerned with is what you are going to eat because it makes you hungry,” he said.

Ndzimande said he did not grow dagga himself, but bought it whenever he wanted to smoke it. This will soon change.

“I am going to start my small garden soon. I used to grow dagga for private use, but I had to stop because I was scared of the police. Now there is nothing stopping me,” said Ndzimande.

He then asked: “What about selling it? Is that also legal?”

Not so fast, mate.

"We have found our medicine"

Another Mbizana resident, who asked not to be named, said he smoked dagga and that the ruling would stop those who used the herb privately from being attacked by thugs.

“It means we will smoke it at leisure in our homes. We will be growing it ourselves and avoid going to shady places to get dagga, where we end up being robbed.

"This is a welcome development. We have found our medicine. We won’t get sick again,” he said.

He added that the medicinal powers of dagga were underestimated, and said it even helped with toothache.

“If you have an unbearable toothache, you just need to get one pull from the zol and not inhale the smoke. Keep the smoke inside your mouth for a while.

"You don’t have to inhale if you are a non-smoker – you can release the smoke and, as soon as you do, the pain will be gone,” he said.

Ndzimande said he also supported those who followed the Rastafarian religion and said they a right to choose how they practised their faith.

“If Rastas smoke dagga as part of their religion, they should not be stopped because other religions are not prevented from doing whatever it is that they do – including drinking alcohol – as part of their faith,” he said.

Bazi said other drugs caused people to become violent, but dagga was a natural and gentle herb. However, it must be used responsibly.

“When I was growing up, I knew that dagga was for adults and not for young people. That was because adults could handle dagga.

"Today, you see youngsters smoking dagga when they are not supposed to – this is what should be regulated. Otherwise, I support the court’s decision. It is long overdue,” he said.

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Are you going to start ploughing your garden to plant dagga like the people in Mbizana? What do you think of the ruling?

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