LE­GALISE, DON’T CRIT­I­CISE

CityPress - - Front Page - LUBABALO NGCUKANA lubabalo.ngcukana@city­press.co.za

Some amaMpondo peo­ple, fa­mous for grow­ing dagga on hill­sides in the Eastern Cape, are as ex­cited as mar­i­juana users can get af­ter the Cape Town High Court’s rul­ing to le­galise the pri­vate use of the ma­ligned herb.

Known in Pon­doland as igolide ya­maMpondo, the herb is grown around al­most all vil­lages in the area, in­clud­ing Port St Johns, Lusik­isiki, Nta­bankulu, Li­bode, Ngqe­leni and Mbizana.

In the land­mark rul­ing, the court said that the use of dagga by adults in pri­vate homes can­not be banned, and said it was okay to cul­ti­vate and keep it at home. Af­ter an ap­pli­ca­tion driven by Dagga Party leader Jeremy Ac­ton and Rasta­far­ian Garreth Prince, the court also ruled that govern­ment had two years to make changes to sec­tions of the Drugs and Drug Traf­fick­ing Act, as well as the Medicines and Re­lated Sub­stances Act.

On Fri­day, vil­lagers in Mbizana were ec­static af­ter hear­ing the news.

Al­fred Bazi (48) said: “Dagga is good. It has never killed any­one. I don’t know why they took so long to le­galise it. This is a good de­ci­sion that the court made. At least amaMpondo can now grow their dagga in peace with­out be­ing ha­rassed by the police.”

Bazi, who is from the Mbizana vil­lage of Emazweni, used to smoke dagga, but in­sisted he had quit. He said the herb made one peace­ful when high.

“They must le­galise it and see how much peace there will be out there. Dagga smok­ers are very peace­ful peo­ple. They are not vi­o­lent. They are only pre­oc­cu­pied about the world they are in when they are high – which is re­ally of fan­ta­sis­ing about a lot of things, such as wish­ing you could have a large piece of land where you can just grow dagga,” he said.

Sipho Ndz­i­mande (34), who is from Nom­lacu vil­lage, echoed Bazi’s sen­ti­ments, adding that dagga was also good for medic­i­nal use.

“We don’t only smoke dagga here in Pon­doland – we also use it when we get sick. For in­stance, when you have chest pain, you boil dagga with wa­ter as if you are mak­ing tea out of it. Then you drink that dagga tea and, in no time, you feel your chest open­ing up and be­come alive again,” he said.

Ndz­i­mande said he was happy the court had fi­nally re­alised that there was noth­ing wrong with the herb.

“The only thing that should be crim­i­nalised is al­co­hol be­cause that is what is killing the na­tion. Dagga is good – even if you smoke it, you don’t think about go­ing out and hurt­ing some­one. All you are con­cerned with is what you are go­ing to eat be­cause it makes you hun­gry,” he said.

Ndz­i­mande said he did not grow dagga him­self, but bought it when­ever he wanted to smoke it. This will soon change.

“I am go­ing to start my small gar­den soon. I used to grow dagga for pri­vate use, but I had to stop be­cause I was scared of the police. Now there is noth­ing stop­ping me,” said Ndz­i­mande.

He then asked: “What about sell­ing it? Is that also le­gal?” Not so fast, mate. An­other Mbizana res­i­dent, who asked not to be named, said he smoked dagga and that the rul­ing would stop those who used the herb pri­vately from be­ing at­tacked by thugs.

“It means we will smoke it at leisure in our homes. We will be grow­ing it our­selves and avoid go­ing to shady places to get dagga, where we end up be­ing robbed. This is a wel­come de­vel­op­ment. We have found our medicine. We won’t get sick again,” he said.

He added that the medic­i­nal pow­ers of dagga were un­der­es­ti­mated, and said it even helped with toothache.

“If you have an un­bear­able toothache, you just need to get one pull from the zol and not in­hale the smoke. Keep the smoke in­side your mouth for a while. You don’t have to in­hale if you are a non-smoker – you can re­lease the smoke and, as soon as you do, the pain will be gone,” he said.

Ndz­i­mande said he also sup­ported those who fol­lowed the Rasta­far­ian re­li­gion and said they a right to choose how they prac­tised their faith.

“If Ras­tas smoke dagga as part of their re­li­gion, they should not be stopped be­cause other re­li­gions are not pre­vented from do­ing what­ever it is that they do – in­clud­ing drink­ing al­co­hol – as part of their faith,” he said.

Bazi said other drugs caused peo­ple to be­come vi­o­lent, but dagga was a nat­u­ral and gen­tle herb. How­ever, it must be used re­spon­si­bly.

“When I was grow­ing up, I knew that dagga was for adults and not for young peo­ple. That was be­cause adults could han­dle dagga. To­day, you see young­sters smok­ing dagga when they are not sup­posed to – this is what should be reg­u­lated. Oth­er­wise, I sup­port the court’s de­ci­sion. It is long over­due,” he said.

PHOTO: TEBOGO LETSIE

MILE­STONE The Cape Town High Court this week au­tho­rised the pri­vate use of dagga af­ter a long fight by Rasta­far­i­ans and oth­ers in the coun­try

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