Rev. Kenneth Meshoe of the ACDP.

Durban - Anyone planning to make an early start on their Christmas shopping be warned – the Grinch is back and he’s having another go at stealing Christmas.

But the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) is not about to take it lying down, or allow the country to go to pot – for that matter. The party will march on Saturday in opposition to a bid to have Christmas and Easter holidays removed and against calls for the legalisation of dagga for religious and recreational purposes.

“When prayer was removed from our schools, Christians said nothing.

“When Ascension Day was removed as a public holiday, Christians did not fight it,” said ACDP leader the Reverend Kenneth Meshoe on Friday.

But now it was “time for Christians to stand up and say ‘no’ to subtle attacks on our faith”, he said.

Submissions had been made to the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, a Chapter Nine institution, calling for the removal of Christmas and Easter as public holidays.

The commission had also recently made recommendations to the government that dagga be legalised.

The ACDP – which will march from Braamfontein in Johannesburg on Saturday– is opposed to both calls.

Commission spokesman Sipho Mantula said the recommendation on dagga came after a long consultation with Rastafarians and it was decided to authorise 100g of dagga per person for religious purposes.

“Even the children will claim to be Rasta and the drug problem in the country will be exacerbated.

“You cannot solve one problem by creating another,” Meshoe said, referring to a suggestion by Dagga Party of SA leader Jeremy Acton that there was no difference between alcohol and dagga and that both could be regulated successfully.

“We believe it [dagga] can be regulated and we have the right to access to the plant for recreational use,” Acton – who is battling criminal charges for possession of dagga – said.

Part of the court’s reasoning was that it would be difficult to regulate the responsible use of the plant and almost impossible to ensure that those given permission to use the drug would not abuse it.

Cultural rights, the right to access economic resources and medicinal rights and the right to personal use were all at stake, Acton argued.

Meanwhile, Meshoe said the public hearings in Gauteng for the removal of the Christian holidays had been “hidden” from his party until the day before they were held.

Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington were on a high this week as they became the first states in the US to legalise the possession and sale of cannabis for recreational use, while drug users in Uruguay will be allowed to buy enough cannabis from their government each month to make 20 cigarettes.

Colorado was quickly followed by Washington, in a week that saw millions of Americans streaming to the election booths.

Back home, South Africa’s “dagga couple”, Jules and Myrtle Clark who are challenging the constitutionality of being legally allowed to use dagga recreationally, are hoping to have their case heard in the high court by next year.

But director of SA National Council Against Alcohol and Drug Dependence in Durban, Carol du Toit, said that while there was a powerful lobby to legalise dagga, there were a number of issues to consider.

“South Africa, as we all know, has an unacceptably high rate of deaths due to road accidents, a large percentage of which can be attributed to the abuse of alcohol and or other chemical substances.”

She added that dagga abuse has also been linked to an a motivational syndrome, affecting the user’s work performance and drive for success. - Independent on Saturday