Pubdate: Fri, 15 Jul 2016
Source: Citizen, The (South Africa)
Copyright: 2016 The Citizen
Author: Ilse de Lange


An ill Boksburg man has obtained a court order to stay his criminal 
trial for possessing, manufacturing and dealing in dagga pending the 
outcome of a constitutional challenge aimed at legalising the 
substance in South Africa.

Judge Ronel Tolmay granted an order in the North Gauteng High Court 
in Pretoria to stay the criminal trial of Clifford Thorp, 58, pending 
the final outcome of his legal battle to legalise the medicinal use of dagga.

The court in November last year granted Thorp permission to join the 
application of Julian Stobbs and his partner Myrtle Clarke, also 
known as the "Dagga couple", in their legal challenge to the 
constitutionality of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act which outlaws 
the possession of and dealing in dagga.

The couple, who were arrested during a 2010 police raid on their 
smallholding in Lanseria, maintain their human rights were violated 
by a law that was unjust, not supported by any scientific evidence 
and outdated and that smoking dagga should not be seen as a crime at all.

Thorp, who suffers from debilitating back pain, chronic nausea and 
vomiting caused by obstructive pulmonary disease and skin cancer, 
started growing his own dagga for medical purposes in 2014, but was 
arrested in January last year.

He said dagga was extremely effective for pain relief, significantly 
reduced his nausea and vomiting, increased his appetite and gave him 
a far better quality of life.

He sometimes smoked dagga to help him sleep, but mostly consumed it 
in the form of butter and cannabis oil to assist in healing malignant 
growths on his skin.

Although he used dagga for medicinal purposes, he supported the dagga 
couple's efforts to have the responsible adult recreational use of 
dagga legalised.

"I believe that the right to choose what to consume, in instances 
where consumption of more harmful substances is permitted, is 
fundamental and finds its place in various rights enshrined in our 
Bill of Rights," he said.

His advocate argued that Thorpe would be unable to cope with the 
stress and deprivations of a criminal trial and feared that his 
condition would worsen.

If he was tried and convicted before the constitutional challenge was 
finalised, he would also be unable to visit his grandchildren in the 
UK and feared he would never see them again.

Thorpe maintains the prohibition on medicinal dagga does not serve a 
legitimate government purpose, as there are less restrictive means 
available to regulate its use.
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