'No regret' for dagga activist who lit up joint on live TV

17 May 2015 - 02:01 By TASCHICA PILLAY

The dagga activist who lit up a joint on live TV has no regrets and would do it again.

Andre du Plessis, head of the Cannabis Working Group, confirmed it was dagga he had smoked during the broadcast.

"I lit up a joint of cannabis after the sheer frustration from the blatant lie given to me by the [Central Drug Authority] with regard to xenophobia being the reason as to why it hasn't delivered its cannabis position paper. That blatant lie pushed me over the edge.

"They are 11 years late. In 2004, when they presented their position paper, parliament rejected it for not being scientific enough. In 2010, when parliament mandated them to get their cannabis position paper presented to parliament, they still did nothing. In 2013, we presented our cannabis position paper to the Central Drug Authority. We delivered it in a presentation. They had it for two years and the xenophobia outbreak only happened this year," said Du Plessis.

He was taking part in a debate with the drug authority's deputy chairman, David Bayever, on the legalisation of dagga.

Du Plessis was crossing live from the Durban studio of the SABC show Newsroom while the show's presenter Annine Dormehl and Bayever were in the main studio in Johannesburg. As Du Plessis puffed away, Dormehl asked if he had any closing remarks, to which Du Plessis replied in the negative and pulled out his earpiece before walking off the set.

"That joint didn't harm anyone," said Du Plessis.

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But the SABC was less than stoked by his stunt and wants to introduce measures to avoid any more such incidents.

"We never anticipated a stunt like that. He took advantage of being live on air and in a [remote] studio without any presenters to stop him.

"He not only disrespected the SABC but also the laws of the country by smoking in public. We are looking at how to deal with this matter and how to prevent it from happening in the future," said spokesman Kaizer Kganyago.

Kganyago said he was not aware whether the police planned to take action against Du Plessis.

Du Plessis, who has been part of many campaigns advocating the legalisation of dagga in South Africa, said he just wanted the substance to be legalised.

"I want to change the law about cannabis. My priority is to remove cannabis from the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992, to remove cannabis from the Medicines and Related Substances Act of 1965 and to repeal criminal records and to deal with incarcerations related to cannabis," he said.