Speaking Truth to Power
- by Leela Bear
Fields of Green for ALL pitched bright and early at 10 Darling Street, Cape Town on 6 May to join the Global Cannabis March 2023. A warm and sunny morning welcomed people from every Cannabis Walk of Life, coming from far and wide.
We gathered, several hundred strong, to voice our anger at the slow legislative processes underway in liberating the Plant for ALL.
The reasons to march for our Human and Constitutional Rights to Cannabis echoed through the placards, the speeches, and the discussions between groups.
Etienne van Zyl – a social anthropologist completing his masters in Cannabis Policy while fulfilling his role as a research consultant for Fields of Green for ALL – opened the day. He highlighted the need to support our civic organisations in their engagements with the industry and government, and outlined why the processes to unleash Cannabis are so frustratingly slow.
Filling the streets of Cape Town with our Cannabis pride, we marched to Parliament, yet on arrival we had to wait for the chosen representative to receive a memorandum holding our collective dismay at government’s inaction and our disdain for a Bill in need of scrapping. Mfuzo Zenzile, parliamentary representative for the Ministry of Justice, was delayed for over an hour. This delay symbolises exactly how and why the Cannabis Communities of South Africa have become disillusioned by a government that has been slow to act on bringing about an inclusive, enabling, and sustainable Bill that will see the Plant unleashed – ALL of it!
Etienne was able to confirm with Mr Zenzile that we should have a response in a week or two. Let’s hold the Ministry of Justice to account on this.
Memorandum (eventually) delivered and our various grievances voiced fiercely by various organisations continuing the fight for free and fair access to Cannabis for ALL, we marched back to Darling Street. Pausing at the police station, we learnt of a Rastafarian man sitting in a holding cell. Predictably, he had been unlawfully arrested the night before on Cannabis charges.
This incident is far from isolated, and speaks to why we need to rally and unify our voices as we fight the many battles in the War Against Drug Prohibition.
Thanks to the efforts of informed community members, this man was freed. Quanita Booley of the Cannabis Community Council and Advocate Mbonisi Kenneth Nkita returned to the cop shop post march to correct the police in their error. The duo engaged with the officers about the unconstitutionality of their actions, but also learnt that the officers have never been adequately informed of the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling nor that it is unlawful to arrest someone in possession of Cannabis, whether on their person or in a private space.
This highlights the need to educate ourselves, our communities, and yes, our police officers on our Human and Constitutional Rights to Cannabis.
The after party saw some lekker vibes happening at Trench Town in Observatory, where the day’s seriousness melted away into a festive celebration of the Plant, thanks to the beats of some incredible local talent.
We would like to thank the South African Cannabis Community for joining the Global Cannabis March 2023 wherever you were. Our heartfelt thanks to ALL those who made the day a success.
We hope to see you ALL next year!