Dagga Party: Eight joints a day for Cape politician
Like most politicians, Cape Town-based Jeremy Acton (49) is aiming for the top. But as leader of the Dagga Party of South Africa the self-confessed rooker (smoker) has perhaps already reached the highest office with his eight-joints-a-day habit.
While the former pig farmer admits that some people do break down laughing when he tells them about his big plans for the Dagga Party, he is busy collecting the 500 signatures required for him to register the party to contest the elections next year.
You believe that all citizens, by virtue of their constitutional rights to health and life, should have the right to grow the cannabis plant.
No one has ever died of an overdose of cannabis. It means that it is perfectly safe for self-medication, and we don't need to schedule it or obtain a prescription from a doctor.
I had skin cancer on the side of my nose. The doctors said come back in five weeks for treatment. I went home and got out the dagga and chewed it up into a ball, mixed it with cancer bush and applied it to my nose with a plaster every day and night for three weeks. When I removed the plaster one day, it fell off, leaving my skin smooth and clear. The testimonies like mine are too many to ignore.
Have you been arrested before for possession of dagga?
I defended myself against four charges that were brought against me for possession of dagga. My criminal charges were provisionally withdrawn but they have said they could retry me on new charges.
How do you earn a living?
At the moment, I am between employment. I have a degree in building arts from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. But I went to farm pigs in the Karoo. Financially I was not making it on the farm, and I was separated from my partner and daughter.
So I sold my pigs, and I came to live with my family in Durbanville. Now I do some work as an extra for television adverts. I'm a scenery kind of guy.
How many joints do you smoke a day?
The number of joints that Bob Marley talks about smoking in his song Smoke Two Joints is at least eight a day. I smoke about six to eight joints a day. That is a half a gram per joint. I don't mix it with tobacco, and I only smoke indigenous South African cannabis.
Describe the Dagga Party of South Africa and what you plan to do for people.
We are the most ecological and community oriented party in South Africa. Out of that approach, we will create employment and housing.
If you want to become a member of the dagga party, do you have to be a rooker?
You don't have to be a rooker, but you must support the legalisation of dagga, be nonviolent, respect women and you will be expected to be a positive influence in your community.
If you smoke tik and steal and do crime, then you are not welcome in the party.
When did you start the Dagga Party of South Africa and why have you decided to contest the 2014 elections?
That was back in 2009, when I was living wild with animals and trees. I was always interested in design and the political creation of communities.
I left the Green Party because my father was killed in a farm attack in Stutterheim [in the Eastern Cape]. My father [David Arthur Acton] was shot in the heart and my brother took two bullets in the attack. Dagga saved my life: I wasn't welcome on the farm because I smoked dagga.
My mother wanted to sell up after that, and I lived for a year with the unemployed on the farm.
I sympathise with the landless in South Africa, and have experience of it. I was hoping to follow in my father's footsteps and have a farm with orchids and vegetables, but it was not to be. I am now an activist for change.
What do your mother and your girlfriend say about your political party?
My mother had great doubts in the beginning. But she gave me time to explain my motivations, judged my convictions and she accepts what I am doing as reasonable. Mothers try to protect their kiddies, even if we are already 49.
My partner backs me, but she wants to remain in the background.