JOHANNESBURG – While campaigns against drug abuse across the country intensify, a Johannesburg couple has taken up the fight to legalise the use of dagga in South Africa.
They are suing government, arguing it's their right to consume the drug.
A late-night raid by police in August 2010, where 1.8 kg of dagga was found, sparked the couple's fight.
They were charged with possession and intent to sell and face a lengthy jail time if convicted.
Julian Stobbs, dagga activist, said, “Between us we've smoked for 50 years of our lives and we've had a really good life – with this plant as part of it. And we owe it to the plant to do what we’re doing.”
Now known as the Dagga Couple, the two have turned their case on its head, challenging the government to legalise marijuana.
“We are now suing seven government departments on the charges that they are upholding unlawful laws – unconstitutional laws. So we have now become the plaintiffs,” Myrtle Clarke said.
While dagga has been decriminalised in countries like the Netherlands and recently in Uruguay, South Africa classifies the drug as bad as heroin.
The law here considers it a dangerous, dependence-producing drug.
But the couple argues that it’s their constitutional right to use the plant and in doing so they are not hurting anyone.
They also believe dagga does far less damage than alcohol or tobacco — and in fact it can be used for medicinal purposes.
“The case against this plant is probably the most successful propaganda campaign ever. Depending where you are in the world, it's been going on for anything from 70 to 100 years. That's what we're up against, so we have to overcome that. There are just so many misconceptions about this plant,” Clarke said.
“We're cannabis activists now – it’s been three years of this – so you can call us what you want. We know that we are speaking the truth,” Stobbs said.