Our annual D.Day 420 celebration is never an easy event to pull off. Not only is there an illicit substance in the mix, the safety, security and traffic impacts all have to be addressed and pass muster with the Joint Operations Committee (JOC) before anyone sets foot through the gates. This year, due to new, tighter regulations, our low risk category based on expected numbers increased to medium risk. the cut-off used to be 4000 people but recently it has been reduced to 2500. This meant that by law, the police would be present in uniform at the event, along with the usual fire, metro and ambulance representatives.
At face value, apart from the added expenses involved with a medium risk categorisation, the presence of blue uniforms in a prominent gazebo and a lot of weed on the lawn was seemingly going to be problematic. We are no strangers to the problem by any stretch of the imagination, but this year got very tense at times trying to impress upon the cops that this was a private event attended by consenting adults.
The local police cluster decided they would be fine with the privacy ruling, but the Brigadier at central certainly did not. Two days before the event, the team received a letter from the main man telling us we’d be in complete contravention of South Africa’s drug laws if the event became a public smokeathon, and the local police were in fact wrong.
At that point D.Day was unstoppable. We didn’t sleep with all the anxiety.
We had published a blog post 24 hours earlier reporting the police condoning the use of cannabis products. It had had 25000 unique impressions overnight. Jozi seemed keen to make D.Day a cannabis users paradise……
On the morning of the 20th, our team did everything in their armoury of negotiation skills to talk the police into not arresting us, or worse, stop the event altogether. D.Day 420 2019 was signed off as safe by 11.30 am and one hour later, Jules had confirmation from the attendant Colonel that the show would go on with no interference from them. 3200 cannabis enthusiasts became safe from any police retribution and for their part, the cops were really laid back and friendly. We couldn’t help thinking that they all thought that it was a relief they didn’t have to arrest anyone for something as innocuous as dried cannabis.
D.Day had it’s green light and the weed came out in abundance. The future had arrived for Cannabis Culture in South Africa. We were free to blaze as responsible adults.
The police were reticent to be on camera during the day and didn’t want their photographs taken with anything remotely Dagga – but we did get some footage of a uniformed sergeant remarking that she had never seen anything so peaceful in all her time on duty at public events. The other thing that was noted by all the officials was the diversity of the crowd. All the colours, all the ages, all the socioeconomic backgrounds. They were experiencing what we’ve been saying all along. Weed brings people together. Weed is the healing of the nation.
Our Easter weekend social media traffic was full of congratulations for a job well done. We wondered if the police officers at the D.Day Cannival took their story to an Easter Sunday braai with family and friends. No incidents of disorderly, polite aware people, not one visitor to the medics (impressive!) and one of the easiest public policing gigs they’d had in years.
Thanks must go to all of you for being such amazing ambassadors for the cannabis plant and the South African Cannabis Culture. It goes without saying, D.Day can’t exist without your support. Over 3000 of you without incident.
And to the authorities – we did everything we could to make the event as safe and as orderly as we could. Thank you for trusting us to use cannabis products en masse.
All we wanted to do was show you what would happen. Or rather what wouldn’t.
Photography by JM Goudvis Photography. @jgoudvisRabbit