Durban - With the new year well under way, national focus has turned to the forthcoming elections, the date of which is expected to be announced by President Jacob Zuma any time after February 9.

According to the Independent Electoral Commission there are 183 registered political parties – and if Western Cape resident Jeremy Acton gets the signatures in time, the South African Dagga Party will soon be on the list.

Following in the footsteps of the likes of South African James Mange’s Soccer Party established in 1994, the Canadian Marijuana Party, the UK Legalise Cannabis Alliance, the Australian HEMP Party, and the Israel Green Leaf Party, the Dagga Party advocates the legalisation of marijuana for public benefit.

Party founder Acton emphasises the economic benefits this controversial plant can bring to the country and its people.

“We want to tackle other issues on the environmental and economic fronts. We can’t afford to keep using fossil carbons. By growing cannabis you are eliminating carbon from the atmosphere while creating a clean source of energy.”

Acton said the legalisation of dagga would empower the poorest citizens to participate in a dagga-based economy, and would also give a huge boost to the viability of agricultural land-reform projects.

“We could also create a dagga tourism industry and a global market for our superior dagga fibre-based products, our carbon-neutral fuel, and medicines,” he said.

Acton said dagga-based building materials could be used for RDP housing, cutting building costs substantially.

The plant has gained much publicity of late, with a number of states in North America decriminalising it for medical and non-medical use, and Colorado opening its first “pot shops” to the public last week. However, marijuana remains illegal under US federal law.

Asked whether national mindsets were changing with regard to marijuana, Acton said the movement towards legalising marijuana in South Africa had been well developed since 2009.

“People have discovered the law is draconian and unsubstantiated. With forums such as and the Dagga Couple (referring to the couple, arrested for dealing in dagga, who are taking their case to the Constitutional Court) people are querying the laws.”

He said in KwaZulu-Natal, there was much support from the Ndwedwe and Pietermaritzburg areas.

To date, the Dagga Party is 130 signatures short of the 500 needed to register, but Acton is confident the target will be met.

We’re aiming to have a few hundred more than the minimum required. The form can be downloaded from the Dagga Party website.”

The final registration weekend is February 8 to 9. People have until 5pm on the day the president proclaims the election date to register.

[email protected]

Daily News