Reality Check: Cannabis is NOT Legal in SA, in ANY Form, yet.

By |Published On: October 6th, 2017|

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.”

This law is still firmly in place. Not a day goes by when Fields of Green for ALL, The Dagga Couple and our legal helpline, JoinTheQueue, does not get a message from someone in trouble with the police. Or someone being tested for Cannabis at work for no reason. Or someone stressed out as Cannabis is being used in a custody battle.

The vast majority of people arrested will be punished before they even reach a court room. They will be locked up in cages, harassed, preyed on in their vulnerability. No matter how much we promote our Know Your Rights booklet, the situations that South African citizens find themselves in through their use of Cannabis are a daily violation of human rights and this perpetual influx of horror stories is the most difficult part of what we do.

On the other hand, a vast majority of people think that Cannabis is legal already! Everywhere we go we get the same misguided statements: “Oh, but it’s legal now, the Western Cape High Court said so” or “It’s legal now because the media say that licenses are being issued” or “It’s legal to grow at home / smoke at home / if you are using it medicinally” and the misinformation goes on.

Let’s put the record straight.

The Western Cape High Court Judgement handed down on 31 March 2017 is being appealed by the state. This appeal is set down to be heard in the Constitutional Court in Johannesburg (NOT the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein) on 07 November 2017. It may take some months for a judgement to be handed down and then it will take about 2 years for the actual law to be changed by the legislature. Until then , the police can arrest you, put you in a cage and generally ruin your day and very possibly, your life. You may use the WCHC judgement in your defense at Magistrate’s Court level but to date we do not have a case that has been successfully concluded in order to create a precedent.

The issuing of licenses is a contentious one but, to date, NO LICENSES TO CULTIVATE, POSSESS, USE OR TRADE IN CANNABIS have ever been issued in SA. There has only ever been ONE license issued for research into Industrial Cannabis and that was given to one person. No Section 21 Application for the medicinal use of Cannabis for serious illness has EVER been issued by the Dept of Health, EVER! This is despite many legitimate applications being filed. As we have said many times, who is going to play god? The same people who keep locking us up? There will be regulations, of course, but let’s strive to make South Africa the FIRST license free zone in the Cannabis world. Cannabis licenses will be no different to corrupt tenders so consider where that has left us and our beautiful country. Become part of this conversation today.

How can you issue a license for an illegal plant? Putting the cart before the horse? For sure. Just consider the fact that those fluttering around the license issue do not have much of an appetite for supporting legal action to change the law. It is all about “What’s in it for me?” coupled with vague promises of “helping communities”. Why not help those communities where arrests are rampant and breadwinners in jail, at the same time as discussing the way forward?

So what about The Trial of the Plant? As most people know, the court proceeding were adjourned on Friday 18 August sine die (until further notice) and our legal team at Schindlers Attorneys are doing all they can to set a new date for next year. We will let everyone know as soon as we know the new date. For now we are strategising around the way forward. During the grueling 13 days in court we only completed the evidence of one witness, our history expert, Craig Paterson. Both our international experts, Dr Donald Abrams and Prof David Nutt, as well as our list of local experts, will have to return for round two.

What we have learned is that we have to allow all the defendants’ evidence to be heard, no matter how ludicrous, long winded or just plain wrong it may be. There are only so many issues that they can bring up and these issues have not changed in decades so we know what we are dealing with. It is also important to note that the burden of proof (the justification for the current laws prohibiting Cannabis) lies with the defendants.

Read a summary of the both sides of the argument.

Watch the live stream of The Trial of the Plant.

Download the written record of The Trial of the Plant.

Read a  day by day summary of The Trial of the Plant.

Most important to note, in terms of legal procedure, is that the Pretoria High Court, with Judge Ranchod presiding, does NOT decide whether Cannabis is legal or not. The final judgement will be in the hands of the Constitutional Court. The Trial of the Plant only ends with the Con Court ruling.

One of the matters that delayed the start of the trial was the defendants’ objection to Fields of Green for ALL’s live stream of the trial on our website. After Judge Ranchod handed down two judgements in our favour, the state are petitioning the Supreme Court of Appeal to overturn these judgements. It remains to be seen whether the SCA will agree to hear the petition but papers are in and you can read the state’s petition and Fields of Green for ALL’s reply, HERE.

Although it may seem that we are in legal limbo with the Trial of the Plant, there are many projects going on the go – PAIA requests around the MCC rescheduling in parliament, Draft Proposals for regulation being researched and finalised, international and local affiliate programmes and, of course, fund raising to keep us going.

#TOTP and #CCC2017 cost a total of R868 862.74 and everything is paid for. We raised the money through donations, Green Network memberships, our affiliate & sponsor programmes, events and our 2015 crowd funding campaign. We never thought we would have to but it’s time to start from scratch again! Please consider becoming a monthly donor as part of The Green Network, signing up your business as an affiliate, visiting our shop or just foregoing the top grade and donating the difference. We now accept bitcoins too!

We hope this update helps to dispel some of the misinformation out there and answers the countless questions we are fielding. We took a break after the trial so this has been a bit long in coming but we are refreshed and confident for the road ahead.

Myrtle, Jules & William

Thank you to our FGA Affiliates who help to make our ongoing content creation possible!

Thank you to our FGA Affiliates who help to make our ongoing content creation possible!


About the Author: Myrtle Clarke

Everyone here on TGN should know who I am!

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  1. Monique Perry August 28, 2019 at 2:04 am - Reply

    Thank you for sharing and spreading awareness! Cannabis is really indeed magical. As studies progress, it unfolds a lot of possible uses and applications in science and medicine. I hope this could be the future treatment of a lot of diseases.

    • Myrtle Clarke September 4, 2019 at 11:50 am - Reply

      Thanks Monique! Its crunch time now as we are working really hard to have our voices heard by those that are in charge of making the new laws and regulations!

  2. Athea Jo July 1, 2019 at 7:34 am - Reply

    This article indeed is a reality. Many people are in prison because of using cannabis. There are still a lot of places that cannabis is not legal yet. And there are a lot of people who are using it illegally for pleasure only. I just hope that soon when cannabis gets legalized in the whole world the people will also be responsible for using it, and not for simple pleasures.

    • Charl Henning July 8, 2019 at 3:19 pm - Reply

      Althea. Simple pleasures are part and parcel of the plant. There is nothing wrong with a simple pleasure. We believe at Fields of Green for All that any use of the plant is medicinal, even responsible adult use. We are fighting for full legalisation on all four platforms. You can read more about the platforms here

  3. Kevin Murphy June 30, 2019 at 5:14 pm - Reply

    This article is very informative. Thank you for the update. Although I’m quite worried about the result. Legalizing cannabis is beneficial for me as a weed grower.

    • Charl Henning July 8, 2019 at 3:24 pm - Reply

      Kevin. No need to be worried about the result. Prohibitionists always say ‘more research needs to be done’, but enough has been done for us to know for sure that the plant is MUCH safer than f.e. cigarettes or alcohol Several countries (and US states) have legalisation models that work, and it’s just some policy details that need ironing out. You should not worry, but rather celebrate progress as the evil walls of prohibition crumble.

  4. Karen Page January 4, 2019 at 5:01 am - Reply

    Great article about legal cannabis reality check!

  5. Jennifer Smith December 30, 2018 at 10:17 am - Reply

    Great article indeed. I am in support of cannabis legalization. Let’s give patients more options!

  6. Romulus Capricorn the Second July 11, 2018 at 9:29 am - Reply


    Got a sticky situation.

    I was caught smoking by 2 cops a few weeks ago. They proceeded to search my car and person. I asked them if they had a warrant and was threatened that he could “go and fetch his commissioner and he will bring a whole team and a warrant” so I let them search. I told him I had 7 grams in the glove box which he looked at and then put back in the glove box!?!?! (Sweet). When I asked him what was going to happen he kept asking for a “Spot Fine” I told him I had no money on me, he then asked for my wallet and went through every compartment. He said “Tell me something that will make us go away.” I replied with “You are doing a good job officer. You’re keeping good citizens safe and showing people the right way to live. . . ” He cut me off and said I didn’t understand. I told him he could follow me home and I will ask my parents for some money for him. He didn’t like that and asked for my cell number. I asked what for and he said it was so that he could “Come Collect . . . Whenever”

    He called me again today, I managed to call him back from a line that has call recording. I asked him for his name and badge number to make sure it was a police officer I was talking to. He refused to give the number. I asked what the call was for and he says he wants me to give him dealer numbers. I asked him to tell me what he was asking for when I was with him in person (when he was looking for a bribe) and he refused to say.

    There were no forms filled out, no evidence taken, no pics taken, no process whatsoever.

    I’m wondering if you can tell me if he has any justify able means to arrest me now? The incident happened about 3 weeks ago.


    Romulus Capricorn the Second

    • Myrtle Clarke July 12, 2018 at 7:39 am - Reply

      Hi Romulus, no he can’t come after you but please be careful, especially if you live in a small town. In the meantime, make sure you have our JoinTheQ details and SOS number saved on your phone. Well done for not paying him and your case would not have stood up in court anyway as he did not have a search warrant. Rather smoke at home!

  7. Carlo May 29, 2018 at 7:54 am - Reply

    What will happen to us growers when weed gets legalised. We cant compete with big industry. Ill probably have to go work for a rich farmer and make him even richer. A small sacrifice for the greater good i guess.

  8. Gary April 18, 2018 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    Hi Myrtle, first off I want to thank both of you for your courage to fight this matter in court. I have been following you guys since last year’s court case.
    Now my question, probably been asked a gazillion times recently….when is the follow up court case…and when will weed be legal?
    I know its a difficult question to answer, like how long is a piece of string…but i really want to smoke this stuff… legally…
    Thanks again and may the force be with you!

  9. Paul April 6, 2018 at 10:05 am - Reply

    I was arrested a few months ago for possession my lawyer call for a diversion program to be done . The court then sent me there , the program only runs at 1 on Thursdays how can any working person complete a 8 week program

  10. Pierre October 13, 2017 at 7:39 am - Reply

    a guy was just bust in Benoni for 105 plants, some legal type said it’s a bit much for “personal” use, I think sustainable subsistence farming

    • Myrtle Clarke October 17, 2017 at 5:06 am - Reply

      He can use the Western Cape High Court judgement in his defense but we have not had a case that has set a precedent yet. There is no mention of the number of plants considered for personal use. The best is if he contacts our JoinTheQueue Dagga Arrest helpline on 0631740938 as he can apply for a stay in prosecution pending the outcome of our case. This is a more certain route than using the judgement. Be careful of shark lawyers! All the best… #ProudlyGreen!!

  11. Pieter October 8, 2017 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    No matter what happens in the days before the continuation of the trial of the plant. You have a lot of supporters willing to walk the path with you. Bring back Professor Nutt, he certainly gave the state a bloody nose.

    • Myrtle Clarke October 11, 2017 at 10:54 am - Reply

      Thank you Pieter, we really appreciate your loyal support over the years x

  12. Jaco October 8, 2017 at 12:19 pm - Reply

    I’ve got a criminal record that says “possession of drugs” I was walking along the beach and on my way to the shops when a homeless guy asked for a smoke and tried to sell me a spliff of very low grade weed. The cops pulled in and arrested me and charged me. I paid the R 100 fine cos there was now way i was going to spend the night in jail! and was let go. Never was I told about a court date or anything. I now have had the loss of high income jobs due to the criminal record. This is so wrong as I didn’t even had the intention of buying ” a seeded spliff”. What can I do? This hapend about 8 to 9 years ago!

    • Myrtle Clarke October 11, 2017 at 10:53 am - Reply

      Hi Jaco,
      You are not alone. This has happened to thousands of South Africans. There is nothing you can do that will not take time and money. You can apply for the record to be expunged after 10 years have passed and it takes about a year to come through. If you Google “Expungement of criminal records:za” you will get to the relevant government departments and it is worth a try. Expungement of ALL criminal records is a non-negotiable term in our list of outcomes once we are through the courts.

  13. Gerald Freedman October 8, 2017 at 8:42 am - Reply

    Red tape is always such a catch 22

  14. Lee October 6, 2017 at 9:07 am - Reply

    It definitely did thank you. I just have to ask when it has been legalised will ppl who have prior records still have them or will they be exponged?

    • Myrtle Clarke October 6, 2017 at 9:46 am - Reply

      Hi Lee,
      Expungement of ALL criminal records is definitely a non-negotiable point in our “Draft Proposals for the Regulation of Cannabis in SA”. We are still busy working on this document and will let everyone know once it is out. Thanks for the support!

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