Govt must scrap all dagga convictions, urges activist Myrtle Clarke

Marijuana activist Myrtle Clarke has called for the South African government to expunge the criminal records of people who have convictions linked to dagga possession.

Clarke has also called for the charges to be withdrawn for those awaiting trial in cannabis-related cases.

In September 2018 the Constitutional Court ruled that the private use, possession and cultivation of dagga is legal.

In light of that ruling, Justice Minister Ronald Lamola says the government will now consider expunging the criminal records of people who never appeared in court but paid admission of guilt fines for the possession of dagga less than 10g.

Lamola says everyone would have to apply to have such a sentence or criminal record set aside.

However, Clarke says this legislative action does not go far enough.

We want all criminal records to be expunged. We want all pending cases to be withdrawn. We want all cannabis prisoners to be freed without any conditions.

Myrtle Clarke, marijuana activist

Read: Concourt ruling on cannabis needs to filter down to cops, says dagga couple

Clarke is prominently known as one half of the "dagga couple", the duo who fought for the legalisation of dagga use in South Africa.

According to Clarke, many people are not aware that signing an admission of guilt results in a criminal record.

She says civil society groups have had to shoulder the burden of litigating in court in defence of dagga users.

Also read: New drug test that detects dagga from saliva

Meanwhile, Peter Ucko says the government needs to differentiate from illegal drug dealers and those who cultivate dagga for personal use.

Ucko is the CEO of Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Advisory, Advocacy and Action Group (TAG).

He supports governments move to expunge criminal records under certain conditions such as diversion programmes.

Dealers are still criminal... It's very different from personal use and having 10 grams of dagga.

Peter Ucko, CEO at Tobacco, Alcohol and Gambling Advisory, Advocacy and Action Group (TAG)

Listen to the discussion on Today with Kieno Kammies:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Govt must scrap all dagga convictions, urges activist Myrtle Clarke


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