The landmark bid to legalise marijuana is due to begin in court tomorrow. Julian Stobbs, director of Social Activism at Fields of Green For All, is one of the people involved in bringing the case to court. He firmly believes that prohibition of cannabis does not work in today's society.
Stobbs says they are after the complete legalisation of the cannabis plant for all users and all people in South Africa.
I believe the status quo at the moment is rotten to the core. Prohibition does not work, cannabis is prolific on the street, the price is coming down, more people use it and the state thinks it can use punitive measures to stop cannabis in its tracks.— Julian Stobbs, Director of Social Activism at Fields of Green For All
The are many debates on the effects of cannabis, particularly on the brain. Stobbs' stance is that it can be used as a health product in certain forms. This does not refer to smoking it as a joint or in a bong, but rather the use of the cannabis plant in its entirety, he adds.
With more countries around the world legalising marijuana, Stobbs hopes this bid to do the same, will be successful. He admits that even if the law changes, it will take a while to normalise the stigma associated with marijuana.
I've been smoking for 35 years and it certainly impacts my brain everyday of my life. I am fit, well and healthy. I don't have diabetes, I don't have cancer, I don't have osteoporosis. My teeth are strong, my eyes are strong and I attribute it to the use of the cannabis plant.— Julian Stobbs, Director of Social Activism at Fields of Green For All
Arguing on the other side, Dr Jan Chabalala, former president of The South African Society of Psychiatrists, says that cannabis should remain illegal. This is due to the increased evidence linking cannabis use to schizophrenia, particularity in young people.
He also says that cannabis is a gateway drug, that opens access to harder drugs. He does not think that legalising the plant will stop this access. Another problem Chabalala has is the unproductively and lack of motivation manifested by those who smoke marijuana.
Who ever is going to leagalise it must probably be prepared to take the consequences that will arise out of it. We are going to see more young people entering mental hospitals.— Dr Jan Chabalala, former president of The South African Society of Psychiatrists
When it comes to countries who have decriminalised marijuana, Chabalala says they provide evidence of increased mental heath problems linked to the plant.
It is they that produce the evidence. The users of cannabis in all its forms, like in Holland, are the people who opened our eyes to have a look.— Dr Jan Chabalala, former president of The South African Society of Psychiatrists
Listen to the full debate below: