Pubdate: Tue, 10 Mar 2015
Source: Witness, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2015 The Witness.
Author: Ingrid Oellermann


Prohibition of Cannabis 'Violates SA Bill of Rights'

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provisionally withdrawn - said in an affidavit before the high court 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provisionally withdrawn against Strydom.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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