Amanda Watson, News Editor, The Citizen
A Somerset West couple, arrested for the possession of magic mushrooms, are attempting to turn the tables and use their case as a stepstone in trying to legalize pscychedelics.
The Citizen reports that a married couple arrested in March 2021 for possession of mushrooms containing psilocin are taking their fight to authorities – challenging the criminal prohibition of psilocybin and psilocin.
Shelly-Cathy and Derek Faulds were arrested in March 2021 in Somerset West for possession of 142.4g of mushrooms.
On Wednesday, 10 May 2023 – while waiting for a court date – they served a high court summons on ministers Ronald Lamola (Justice), Dr Joe Phaahla (H) and Bheki Cele (Police), as well as the national director of public prosecutions, advocate Shamila Batohi.
Shelly-Cathy is a therapist and Shamanic practitioner and is with her operations manager husband challenging “the constitutionality of the criminal prohibition of the possession, acquiring, use, cultivation and dealing in psilocybin and psilocin as provided for in Sections 4(b) and 5 (b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act, and Section 22A of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act”.
They argued that “it infringes on several rights contained in the Bill of Rights and should be declared inconsistent with the constitution of the Republic of South Africa, and invalid in that the prohibition constitutes an infringement of the fundamental rights of access to health care services, privacy, freedom and security contained in the Bill of Rights”.
According to their particulars of claim, the prohibition cannot be justified as a limitation in terms of Section 36 of the constitution.
In their summons, they state that psilocin and psilocybin “are not addictive and have proven and well-documented therapeutic effects, inter alia, combatting mental health disorders like depression and anxiety, treating alcoholism and tobacco addiction, alleviating the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder”.
Their attorney, Nardus Grové, said the couple had appeared numerous times in the Somerset West Magistrate’s Court but had not yet been asked to plead.
“An application for the stay of prosecution pending the challenge to the constitutional validity of the prohibition in the Drugs Act is pending…” he noted.
The criminal case is expected to be postponed on Friday, pending the finalisation of the application for the stay of prosecution.