Dagga The Peoples Medicine

On Special Assignment Mondays at 21:00

In this week’s episode we explore the illegal enterprise of medical marijuana against the backdrop of the “The Trial of the Plant”, a court case that is currently underway in the Pretoria High Court where internationally renowned expert witnesses have begun testifying for the legalisation of cannabis for medical use. The application was brought by the ‘dagga couple,’ Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clark, who were arrested for possession of cannabis in February 2010. They are challenging the laws that criminalize dagga as invalid and unconstitutional.

Growing demand for medical marijuana is fuelled by a huge black market industry and because the drug is illegal, there are no proper controls to ensure it is safe. Medical marijuana can be easily purchased and is widely used by people who suffer from medical conditions and for pain management.

We bring you the touching story of Melissa Botha, the mother of Aidan, a young child with Costello Syndrome, a rare genetic disease that has affected most of his body. Melissa explains how medical cannabis has assisted Aidan to concentrate and do better at school. 

Arbie Jurgens, a former IT executive has fibromyalgia, a crippling disease that affects his muscles. He smokes medical marijuana at short intervals to alleviate pain.   

In April 2014 the late IFP Member of Parliament, Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, then terminally ill with cancer, developed serious complications after it was found that the medical cannabis he was using contained high levels of arsenic. This aggravated his condition and made him severely ill. He was the first person in South Africa to publicly call for the proper legalisation and control of cannabis.

The government recently launched a detailed blueprint for South Africa’s cannabis industry with guidelines for the cultivation of dagga for medical use under strict control. Activists see it as a positive step towards legalising the drug.   

We ask whether legalising dagga will make it safe and put an end to the massive black market trade around it and, whether the controversial drug is the panacea that helps to fight medical conditions and diseases like cancer that people report it to be.

Watch Dagga: The People’s Medicine? Produced by Frank Ferro and broadcast on   Special Assignment,14 August, 2017 at 21:00 on SABC3.

For more information contact the Special Assignment office: 011 714 6758/64541

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