Dagga activists have high hopes that a court case starting in Cape Town on Wednesday will end up legalising their drug of choice.
A full bench of the Cape Town High Court will hear a case brought by Garreth Prince‚ a Rastafarian‚ and Jeremy Acton‚ the leader of the Dagga Party of South Africa‚ to have sections of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act declared unconstitutional.
If their wish is granted‚ dagga users will no longer have to look over their shoulders while puffing.
Johannesburg couple Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke have made a similar application to the High Court in Pretoria‚ which is due to be heard in March.
“If our application is fully successful … everything in this country is going to change and move in a more positive economic and social direction‚” Acton said.
“But the ordinary people on the ground must wake up to their rights‚ which have been violated for the last 100 years of prohibition.”
Acton said his campaign had won support from activists’ families and young people‚ and “we believe that we are supported spiritually by the cannabis plant itself”.
“We have done this at our own cost and prepared all papers and argument ourselves‚” he said. “No one could’ve done it better than the arrested and prosecuted dagga smokers themselves.”
The activists are also asking the court to order the Director of Public Prosecutions to stop the prosecution of dagga users and Department of Correctional Services to release prisoners serving time for dagga-related crimes pending the outcome of the litigation.
The ministers of justice‚ health‚ police and trade and industry have been cited as respondents.
The court action was lodged in 2013. It was prompted by Prince’s arrest for possession and dealing in dagga about four years ago. His said his prosecution and others had been stayed pending the outcome of their legislative challenge.
“I was arrested for having dagga plants in my possession and for having the drug cannabis‚ basically for being a Rasta man‚” said Prince.
“I have waited for four years to tell the court why this law is unjust and why government is overreaching in exercising its power.”
Judge Dennis Davis postponed the case last December with the intention of inviting experts to give evidence.
– TMG Digital/The Times