Pubdate: Tue, 10 Mar 2015
Source: Star, The (South Africa)
Copyright: Independent Newspapers 2015
Author: Sherlissa Peters
Page: 2


THE BATTLE to legalise the use of dagga could reach the 
Constitutional Court if a Howick farmer has his way.

John Lawrence Strydom, 44, yesterday launched a Pietermaritzburg High 
Court application against the minister of justice and the office of 
the director of public prosecutions.

Strydom wants criminal proceedings against him for the possession and 
cultivation of dagga to be stayed.

This was in order for him to approach the Constitutional Court to 
have certain parts of the Illicit Drugs and Trafficking Act of 1992 
and the Medicines and Related Substances Controlled Act of 1965, 
relating to the use, possession of and dealing in dagga, declared to 
be in violation of the Bill of Rights.

He was arrested on November 12 for the possession of almost 5kg of 
dagga on Freelands Farm, Lions River.

Police said they also seized equipment used to grow dagga.

However, Acting Judge Piet Bezuidenhout told Strydom the charges 
against him had been provisionally withdrawn, which rendered his 
application moot.

But Strydom, representing himself in the criminal and civil 
proceedings, believes the charges could be reinstated and insisted 
the application be heard.

The case was then adjourned for a date to be arranged.

In an affidavit to the court, Strydom said the word "dagga" had been 
used by the police and media in South Africa to stigmatise the plant 
and the people who used it.

He said he wished to destigmatise the use of the word and ultimately 
give the dagga plant "its rightful place in society, for the benefit 
of the citizens of South Africa".

He admitted to using dagga for 28 years without harm.

"I smoke it and eat it for its known medical benefits and as part of 
my spiritual beliefs and practices."

Strydom said he made medicine from the plant extract for his health 
and when necessary, he shared freely with "various terminally ill 
people who rely on dagga medication to survive or have some quality of life".

He said personal research into the medical benefits and economic 
potential of dagga had led him to seek a scientific justification for 
the law as it stands, which Strydom considers to be a violation of 
his constitutional rights.
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