Pubdate: Tue, 10 Mar 2015
Source: Witness, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2015 The Witness.
Author: Ingrid Oellermann
Page: 3


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withdrawn - said in an affidavit before the high court yesterday he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withdrawn against Strydom.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

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
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