Alcohol and tobacco ‘more harmful’ than dagga

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The Hawks raided a house in Germiston today where they found roughly 208 plants valued at just under R500 000. Picture: DPCI Media Liaison
The Hawks raided a house in Germiston today where they found roughly 208 plants valued at just under R500 000. Picture: DPCI Media Liaison

“Why are people arrested for possession of 10g of dagga, but it is okay for someone to go around carrying four cases of whisky?”

This was the question asked by pro-dagga activist Myrtle Clarke during a robust discussion session on the banned substance.

It is Clarke’s opinion that “drugs must be regulated according to the harms”. She argued that alcohol and tobacco were more harmful to a human being than dagga, and that no one in the world had been killed by dagga.

Judging from the packed conference room at Maropeng Visitor Centre northwest of Johannesburg yesterday, the campaign for the legalisation of dagga was seemingly gaining momentum.

Old and young attendees asked various questions and engaged speakers on the benefits, myths and facts surrounding the plant.

Clarke and Julian Stobbs are known as the “dagga couple” due to their continued legal battle to have the substance legalised following their multiple arrests for possession of dagga.

Clarke said they were all about “responsible adult use” of dagga, and were also fighting for traditional, cultural and religious use.

“Dagga remains completely illegal in South Africa and we want to change that. We will not give up until dagga is available to each and every South African,” she said.

William Wallace from Fields of Green for All, an organisation campaigning for the legalisation of dagga, responded to several questions from the audience, including which type of dagga was the finest and why he believed “dagga is safer than either alcohol or tobacco”.

“Dagga does not make you mad. It does not cause brain damage or damage to your reproductive system,” Wallace said.

“Dagga is a very good medicine. It is very effective treatment for more than 700 illnesses.”

The dagga couple has over the past few months spent about R800 000 presenting the case at the Pretoria High Court.

Stobbs said: “There is absolutely nothing wrong with dagga. In fact, government can make some money out of it and put that money to good use in society. Dagga will be legalised one way or the other. We must stop calling those selling it dealers and instead call them entrepreneurs.”

The court has not yet made a decision on the matter.

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