The ACDP wants parliament to urgently debate a recent Cape High Court ruling legalising using and growing dagga at home and requiring parliament to amend dagga legislation within 24 months.
While the state has confirmed it will appeal the controversial ruling and SAPS say they will apply the existing law pending the outcome of the appeal, the ACDP wants an urgent debate on the implications of the ruling in order to ensure that current laws on the use of dagga are not repealed or amended, the party says in a press release.
It is not the role of the court to make legislation and Judge Dennis Davis has overstepped his mark and placed the court in the position of usurping the role of parliament and its democratically elected members, says ACDP MP Cheryllyn Dudley in a comment on the ruling.
She said whether or not the law regarding dagga will be amended should be decided by members of parliament once parliament has followed due process which involves briefings, deliberations and public participation through written and oral submissions.
“First and second reading debates also take place before a bill is put to the house to be voted on in the national assembly. This whole process would then be repeated in the NCOP to make quite sure the voices of constituents in all provinces are heard and their views considered,” she said.
She said the ACDP recognises the wisdom of the UK government’s dismissal in 2016 of calls for dagga to be made legal.
Dudley said: “While evidence in favour of using cannabis in the treatment of certain conditions has been claimed, the UK government argued that there is a ‘substantial body of scientific and medical evidence to show that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health’.
“They stressed that ‘It is important that medicines are thoroughly trialled to ensure they meet rigorous standards before being placed on the market’ and that cross-government strategy was to prevent drug use in communities, support users through treatment and recovery, and tackle the organised criminals behind the drugs trade.
“In a recently published study by Dr Wayne Hall, director of the Centre for Youth Substance Abuse Research at the University of Queensland examined the effect of marijuana over a 20 year period (1993-2013)
“Halls’ review showed smoking marijuana nearly doubles the risk of an accident; that marijuana addiction is more prevalent in adolescents than adults and that marijuana can lower IQ.
“The ACDP will oppose the legalisation of cannabis as it increases the risks facing young people and whole communities.”