If you have been arrested on a Cannabis related charge and require assistance, please refer to our legal assistance project, JoinTheQueue.
In 2010, Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, aka The Dagga Couple, were arrested and subsequently sued 7 South African Government Departments on charges of enacting unlawful laws. They are currently plaintiffs and supporters of multiple legal challenges taking place to legalise Cannabis in South Africa. Our primary court case is the Trial of the Plant that started in the Pretoria High Court on 31 July and was adjourned sine die on 18 August 2017. We are currently also focused on our Desired Outcomes as it is essential that we give our input when defining the legal regulation of Cannabis for ALL South Africans.
Various experts, both local and international, were set to testify at the trial under the four platforms listed below. Many witnesses and experts for the State, Doctors for Life and us were, however, not given the opportunity to present and defend their evidence as the Pretoria High Court trial was unable to be concluded in the given time. Live stream footage of the trial can be found on The Dagga Couple YouTube channel. On the advice of our legal team and with the permission of Judge Ledwaba who is managing our case, we have decided to postpone the continuation of the trial until after the legislature has had a chance to change the law. Should we not find the new laws and regulations to be for the benefit of ALL South Africans, we will certainly return to court after September 2021. The status of The Trial of the Plant remains “part heard.”
In March 2017 the Western Cape High Court unanimously ruled that Cannabis be legalised and that the South African government conclude applicable legislation within 2 years. Although the conditions of the court’s ruling were based on personal privacy rights and not particularly on the evidence that the plaintiffs submitted, it was a strong step in the right direction and a victory for personal freedom. The State however appealed this ruling which led to the matter reaching the highest court in the country. In November 2017 the Constitutional Court heard the case for Cannabis legalisation in South Africa. Fields of Green for ALL were a part of this historical hearing as we had been permitted to join the Western Cape High Court case as co-applicants and we had the opportunity to offer our views to the Constitutional Court on this pressing matter. You can view a timeline of the legal court cases here.
The Constitutional Court Judgement was handed down on 18 September 2018. Judge Zondo read out the judgement, which declared the prohibition of the personal use, possession and cultivation of Cannabis within PRIVATE spaces unconstitutional. It is important that we continue to not only fight for full legalisation, but that we also understand what the Desired Outcomes of this process should be. It would not be ideal for South Africa to experience a solution that severely limits Civil Society’s access to the plant or that practically maintains prohibition by creating unreasonable barriers to entry. We therefore encourage you to read our Desired Outcomes document and submit your comments.
PLEASE NOTE THAT, FOLLOWING THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT JUDGEMENT, TRADE IN CANNABIS AND CANNABIS PRODUCTS REMAINS ILLEGAL IN SOUTH AFRICA AND THIS LAW REMAINS IN PLACE:
The South African Drugs and Drugs Trafficking Act No.140 of 1993 lists Cannabis under “Undesirable Dependence-Producing Substances” and states that “Canabis (sic) (Dagga), the whole plant or any portion thereof, except dronabinol, is illegal.” (The “except dronabinol” part is the subject of much debate and you can read our opinion on this issue here.)
For a summary of The Dagga Couple’s legal argument, please click here.
A summary of both sides of the argument can be found on our Legal Case Timeline.
Our timeline of the History of Cannabis Prohibition in SA can be found here.
You can read the transcript of The Trial of the Plant here.