In July I had the privilege to look after a small cottage on a wealthy wine farm in Stellenbosch for a few weeks. It was a welcome break from Babylon and time to focus on my music projects as well as my ongoing work for Fields Of Green For ALL. After a few days I had to go to the nearest shop to get some basics.
It was a short drive, but I couldn’t help but notice the sprawl of wealth I was surrounded by. Prosperity created by alcohol, the most harmful and destructive substance I have ever encountered. As a Cannabis activist and rationally thinking person, I could not help but get a headache even though I gave up alcohol five years ago. I hardly made it to the shop and the arrest helpline rang in my pocket with another one of the ongoing unconstitutional arrests. The SAPS is clearly still living in the old South Africa with no intention to change unless they are forced to.
The second thing I noticed was a sign with a big green Dagga leaf on it. It was outside what appeared to be an old Cape Dutch farmhouse that looked like a restaurant and venue with outdoor and indoor seating and vineyard views. A gem of a spot. After a few days I decided to stop by and see what was the modus operandi of the openly Dagga friendly establishment. As I was running low on my favorite flowers, I was hoping they could help. It turned out to be one of the many quasi legal Dagga Private Clubs in our country.
After chatting to the friendly staff for a while, I learnt that I cannot purchase any flower or consume any of my own in the members’ only lounge unless I join as a member myself, which had to be done via a website. Fair enough, but upon visiting the website on my phone right there, I found out that it was a public site serving several clubs. Something about this bothered me. The real definition of ‘private’ was troubling my mind. It’s not private if everybody everywhere signs up at the same entry point? I decided not to join. Whether the venue was operating in a compliant way or not was not for me to decide. There are no laws or regulations around Dagga private Clubs to be compliant with! The biggest blame for the confusion falls directly on our government who cannot simply provide clear guidelines for private clubs. For me, Private Clubs are the cream of what we earned through the privacy judgment and every suburb and town should have one (and most of them already do).
The third thing I noticed was “Zetlers Strawberries” on several signs in the area, as the farm was right next door. I remember reading in the news that they were granted a license and are now growing Dagga for export purposes. This seems to be how our government strikes deals in our faces. Granting licenses to the privileged that can afford to join them in bed. I was still wondering if Zetlers or any other rich license holders ever contributed a cent to the legalisation struggle, or even paused to think about how corrupt their game is in the face of ongoing oppression and exclusion of the unregulated Legacy Cannabis community? What about our legacy growers that are STILL oppressed? Do license holders even know that others are struggling to survive in a country where they are still treated as criminals? It was then that my phone rang again with another arrest victim…
We don’t call the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992 the last apartheid law for nothing. Already rich licensed farmers can grow and export, and the media will stand in line to help them boast about their success in our faces. More and more, we see these glistening stories in the news and on social media, right next to the bust reports. Conflicting messages sent out by a well oiled media machine to the poor folks already confused by the lack of coherent regulations. Crocodile Harris sang “Please give me the good news”, but did he question it’s authenticity? Everybody wants good news, but we don’t need our hopes and dreams swept up by false reports that merely fill up empty slots on newspaper feeds and the poor are still locked up in cages.
Dagga is still illegal, judging by the ongoing arrests. Our government insists on playing God and choosing who can and cannot benefit from their ‘legal’ industry. They are stealing our human rights and renting it back to the rich via an unconstitutional license regime. This year, more than ever before, small unregulated growers felt the punch as prices dropped due to “R&D” or “licensed” weed hit the streets. Not all licensed growers had offtake agreements and had to somehow get rid of all the flower they grew. Why would anyone burn their crop unless it’s in a joint or a bong?
Every day we read about some “magnificent deal” that was struck with this and that company, only to never hear from them again. Or the deal morphed, soon after, into yet another pump and dump scheme to boost share prices. These articles are full of inflated figures, fabricated quotes, over optimistic speculation and other misinformation. There is no money in Dagga for the people. Yet. Still not a single, legal, regulated, unlicensed seed in the ground. Don’t let the media give you false hope. They even go so far as to report about Cannabis being imported! Why import sand to the desert? We are still screwed and nothing has really changed.
Why are we still incarcerated for a plant while our government’s appointed dealer, SAHPRA, is allowed to conduct business as they please?
Here are some urgent, green changes that would make South Africa a better place in the world.
Image credits: Featured image: https://www.news24.com
Time cover time.com
Illustration: artist Brian Jay https://www.artland.com/artists/brian-jay adapted by unknown