Dagga Courtcase postponed as DFL and the State oppose livestreaming by FOGFA

Media Release

Embargo: Immediate release Enquiries: Doctors For Life Int.
Date: 1 August 2017 Telephone: 032 481 5550
On the first day of the Dagga Court Case, the trial was postponed to Tuesday the 1st of August 2017 for the defendents who are the State government departments and Doctors For Life International (DFL) to obtain the reasons for Judge Natvarlal Ranchod’s decision on Friday 28 July 2017 to allow Fields of green for All (FOGFA) to control the livestream broadcast of the trial. FOGFA is the alter-ego of the first and second plaintiffs, Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clark, the so-called ‘dagga couple’. The judge made his decision, which has far reaching implications for the State and the trial, without a formal substantive application by FOGFA, which they had always said they would bring. The Judge made his decision on the basis of correspondance only. Neither the State nor DFL are opposed to the mainstream media filming or broadcasting the trial, but insist that FOGFA is not a media entity regulated as the mainstream media are and that FOGFA is not bona fide. DFL has experienced hate speech by the ‘dagga couple’ and on FOGFA’s website. The State and DFL suggested that the trial proceed today, but without broadcasting until the issues can be addressed and the Judge consider the matter with all the facts before him. However, the ‘dagga couple’ did not want the trial to start today because they want it broadcast from day one. The public should not lose sight of the fact that the ‘dagga couple’ were arrested for posession of 1.87 kg of dagga worth roughly R500 000. The crux of the matter is that the presumption is on their own version they are drug dealers. The courtcase is not in fact the “trial of the plant”. It is about the plantiff’s trying to escape the consequenses of the law by having dagga removed from the list of dangerous and undesirable addictive substances, regardless of the destructive consequences of this psycho active drug. The ‘dagga couple’ is not acting in the best interest of South African society and particularly not our youth, the disavantaged, downtrodden and the socio-economically oppressed rural communities where dagga is rife. Doctors for Life International represents 1500 medical doctors and specialists, three-quarters of whom practice in South Africa. Since 1991 DFL has been actively promoting sound science in the medical profession and health care that is safe and efficient for all South Africans. For more information visit: https://doctorsforlife.co.za]]>

The legalisation of dagga is not a matter of popular opinion but needs a scientific approach

Media Release

Embargo: Immediate release Enquiries: Doctors For Life Int.
Date: 31 July 2017 Telephone: 032 481 5550
The cannabis court case, or so-called “trial of the plant” that starts today in the Pretoria High Court, is about the total legalisation of cannabis (dagga). The use of dagga for medicinal purposes is however being misused across the world as the thin edge of the wedge to get dagga legalised. In the World Drug Report of 2017, Executive Summary, Conclusion and Policy Implications, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime officially holds the same position that Doctors For Life International (DFL) has taken for the purposes of this court case: “Medical use of cannabis needs a scientific approach” “Research has shown that, notwithstanding the usefulness of some cannabinoids in the management of specific medical conditions, their use, particularly in the botanical form of herbal cannabis with unknown content and dosage, can be detrimental to health. To protect human health, it is therefore necessary that the principles of safety, quality and efficacy and the rigorous scientific testing and regulatory systems that apply to established medicines be applied also to cannabis-based medicines.” In light of the above mentioned rigorous principles for allowing dagga for medical use, we cannot see how South Africa can consider legalising dagga for recreational use. Doctors for Life International represents 1500 medical doctors and specialists, three-quarters of whom practice in South Africa. Since 1991 DFL has been actively promoting sound science in the medical profession and health care that is safe and efficient for all South Africans. For more information visit: https://doctorsforlife.co.za]]>

Doctors For Life Court Case to Prevent Legalization of Dagga (Marijuana)

In RE: Stobbs and 2 others//National Director of Public Prosecutions and six ministers of government departments and Doctors For Life International

Download the Court Papers

Introduction

On the 31st of July 2017 a court case commenced in the Pretoria High Court concerning the constitutional legality of South Africa’s dagga legislation. The media is calling it the “Trial of the Plant”. DFL joined the case to be of assistance to the State and we are opposing the legalisation of dagga in the interest of all South Africans; especially our youth and their future. The case ran for the full three weeks that was set aside for it but has not been concluded and will therefore continue next year. The court will notify of the date on which the case will commence in due course. We appeal to you to assist us with covering the substantial legal costs of this important court case.

What is the “Trial of the Plant” about?

It is about the dagga plant and its prohibition in our society. Scientists have long since proven that the dagga plant is highly complex and dangerous and must be prohibited, but some believe it is not dangerous and even medicinal.

What does the law in SA say about dagga?

Except for medical and research exemptions, the possession, use, cultivation, transportation and distribution of dagga is criminalised in terms of the Drugs and drug trafficking act as well as the Medicines and related substances act.

Was the law not settled by the Constitutional court in 2002?

In 2002 a Rastafarian brought a case to the Constitutional Court about Dagga where he complained that the law prevented him smoking dagga as a religious observance and this violated his rights to religious freedom. The court accepted that a Rastafarian’s religious rights were violated but dismissed the case as there is no objective way for law enforcement officials to distinguish between the possession or use of cannabis for religious or for recreational purposes.

There was also a recent Cape Town High Court dagga case?

Earlier this year in the Western Cape High court there was a new attack on South Africa’s anti dagga legislation. The court found that the dagga legislation infringes ones right to privacy BUT only to the extent it prohibits the use of Cannabis by adults in their home. The court did not legalise Cannabis in public.

So people can now grow and use dagga in their own home?

No not quite yet, if ever at all.

Why not?

Because the court suspended the effect of this order for 24 months to allow the Constitutional Court to confirm, alter or overrule the decision and if upheld in full or in part, then for parliament to pass corrective legislation. However the court gave an order that until then, this case is a defence against a charge for possession, cultivation or use in your private home. The trial of the plant will in all likelihood be the final decider.

Why is that?

Because the Trial of the Plant will be the first and only case where there will be oral evidence given and tested, in the witness stand. These other cases were fought and decided on affidavit evidence in a day or two. The trial of the plant is very different and will take many days in court starting on 31 July and continuing through the month of August. There are three legal teams comprising 6 attorneys, 11 advocates, 16 expert witnesses and as many as 12 other witnesses. The trial will probably be recorded by the media and will also probably go all the way to the Constitutional Court to be finally decided. DFL’s lead counsel is Adv Reg Willis instructed by the University of Pretoria Law Clinic.

How did this case start?

In 2010 a couple were arrested with approximately R500 000.00 worth of dagga in their home. They became known as the dagga couple. To avoid prosecution they obtained an interdict in the Pretoria High Court against their prosecution, pending the outcome of a case to declare that all the SA dagga legislation is unconstitutional. The case is against various government departments and against Doctors for Life International. DFL joined this case to be of assistance to the State. So for example DFL will lead the evidence of Harvard Professor Bertha Madras who is one of the foremost authorities on cannabis in the world. She contends that the legalisation of cannabis has to be resisted in the interests of the human brain.

Who is Doctors for Life and what does it do?

DFL is a non-profit relief and civil society organisation of doctors who care and give voluntarily of their own time and money to the many needs of the poor. DFL is funded by its members for the needs of the underprivileged communities they serve in South Africa and Southern Africa. DFL also has an extensive track record of being involved in public interest cases predominantly as a friend of the court, especially to assist with scientific and similar evidence. Ordinarily lawyers act pro bono for DFL. However in a trial action of this nature it is impossible for lawyers to act for free but they have drastically reduced their fees. DFL has four advocates to pay, the work load is immense, and some have been working for a few years for free. DFL’s budget just for the trial is R1million and we have only raised R100 000.00.

So then how is the dagga couple funding their case?

The dagga couple dragged the case out for some years, while they raised money. They started an organisation called “Fields of Green for All” “FOGFA” which now has over 45000 supporters who are funding the case.

How important is this case for South Africa?

Given the role of dagga in crime, women and child abuse and the future of our youth, this trial is one of the most important to ever reach our courts. If the dagga couple win their case as they want to, there will be no restriction on the possession, consumption, cultivation, transportation and distribution of cannabis.  A free for all.

Read our dagga court case press releases and more info on cannabis

Media Release: Conflating marijuana plants with isolated cannabinoids to confuse the public Media Release: High Court Blunders into Dagga Minefield Article: Substance Abuse]]>