Dagga couple Myrtle Clarke and Julian Stobbs outside the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria. Picture: Bongani Shilubane/ANA
Pretoria - The fight to have the use of marijuana legalised is starting to take its toll on the so-called dagga couple, Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke.

The pair expressed their frustration at the speed of proceedings at the Gauteng High Court, Pretoria, and complained that it was turning out to be a contest between expert witnesses.

“Delays have been there, but there is nothing we can do about them. A process is a process and we are just sitting in the back row. We have never been in this environment before and we don’t really know how it works.

"We are all very acutely aware of the aggression of the State towards experts and their testimonies,” said Stobbs.

The couple said they had made a mental note of how the State tried to discredit the testimony of psychiatrist and world-renowned drug expert Professor David Nutt.

Nutt took the stand this week to demonstrate that cannabis didn’t cause schizophrenia.

The couple said, according to their observation, the State was basically trying to discredit 40 years of Nutt’s work but had not achieved this.

They said it was not correct to put people in jail for using cannabis whether it gave them schizophrenia, psychosis or not.

“If you are a schizophrenic using cannabis, you should be in jail. That is what the State is trying to say,” the couple said.

Dr Mpho Phaletse, MMC for health and social development at the City of Joburg, said there was a link between cannabis and mental illness.

She said the government did not support the legalisation of cannabis.

“As much as there is no evidence that proves beyond reasonable doubt that there is a possible link between cannabis and the development of mental illnesses such as schizophrenia, there is a lot of correlation between the use of cannabis and the development of mental health disorders,” said Phalatse.

According to her, the other concern regarding dagga was that it was a gateway drug. She said studies had suggested it was a gateway drug and that its use quickly exposed people to other illicit substances of abuse.

“We do not want to see cannabis being legalised for recreational purposes,” Phaletse said.

She said, as government, they were busy with the process of reviewing policies to strengthen and protect people from substance abuse.

Pretoria News