File photo: Henk Kruger

Durban - A Durban North chef intends challenging the constitutionality of provisions in the Illicit Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, saying there are many health benefits to smoking dagga.

Christian Baker, 23, was successful in the Pietermaritzburg High Court on Monday in getting his prosecution, on drug-related charges, stayed in the Phoenix Magistrate’s Court until he could take the application to the Constitutional Court.

He said in court papers that he was charged with being in possession of, or alternatively dealing in, dagga in Phoenix on May 25.

“I have been smoking dagga for years without harm … I sometimes eat it for its known medical benefits and part of my own spiritual beliefs and practice … I eat the seeds as part of my diet and as a health supplement due to research into the medical benefits and economic potential of cannabis.”

Because of his beliefs, he had to defend himself by bringing this application and then by going to the higher court.

He added that he considered the laws to be in violation of certain constitutional rights.

Baker said he was dedicated to building a culture and spirituality centred on the dagga tree as a direct means to communicate with the Creator without the need for membership of formal religious structures.

He was part of the Dagga Party of South Africa.

Baker said dagga seeds contained up to 24% protein and omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids in perfect balance for the functioning of human cardiac and mental health. The laws violated rights in the Bill of Rights.

He said the illegality of cannabis was unconstitutional and invalid and it was not in the interest of human rights and justice.

The enforcement of the prohibition of the drug cost the taxpayer millions each year.

“I believe if dagga was legalised and regulated, resources could be used in a more useful way … It would pave the way for the hemp industry.”

It would also provide economic benefits in, for instance, agriculture, paper, textiles, construction and many other industries.

“The enforcement laws constitute unwarranted state tyranny against citizens.”

Baker added that research showed that anything prohibited, including dagga, led to continuous demand, to inflated prices and organised crime related to supply of the product.

Baker cited about 19 cases countrywide that were stayed in the lower courts pending challenges in the Constitutional Court.

The Mercury

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