The Trial of the Plant: South Africa’s Attempt to Legalize Cannabis

While much of the marijuana world looks toward societies already in the process of cannabis reform, a major battle for the legalization of pot is happening in South Africa’s justice system.

Lanseria residents Jules Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, also known as “the Dagga (marijuana) Couple,” have brought a constitutional challenge to the Pretoria High Court stating that jailing people for marijuana use is against South Africans’ right to dignity. The trial that began on July 31st is expected to take 19 days.

No less than seven government ministers are being called to defend South Africa’s position on keeping cannabis prohibition in place. Armed with the usual outdated arguments that cannabis causes psychological harm and addiction, the bureaucrats are hoping the court will side with the status quo.

But the Dagga Couple invited some experts of their own, including the Chair of Neuropsychopharmacology at London’s Imperial College to testify that marijuana is not the dangerous drug the world has been falsely led to believe.

The trial is so pivotal and engaging to South Africans that it has been live streamed for all to see.

Arguments in the defense of cannabis have included everything from how the sale of pot can improve the economy, to showing how countries that have enacted cannabis reform handle issues such as impaired driving and quality control.

If the court sides with the Dagga Couple, it will be a landmark decision in South Africa for cannabis, which has been illegal since 1903.

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