As you walk into the #CannabisExpo, it is difficult to believe it is only nine months since the Constitutional Court judgement decriminalised the cultivation and consumption of Dagga in a ‘private space’. Since that unanimous decision by the bench of nine, a whirlwind of investors, suits, foreign exchange, licenses and health products have sprung up all over the country. As I walked the Durban leg of the Cannabis Expo, through the rows of 3 by 3 shells occupied by cannabis industry entrepreneurs and pioneers, it was difficult to stay reminded this was South Africa and not North America or Europe. Cannabis has hit the mainstream big time – except there wasn’t any cannabis to be found. Our hosts, Sun International had a zero weed policy unless there was legal maximum of 0.3% THC in the products, and even then it couldn’t look like weed, or in fact be weed. Only CBD isolates and extractions. The Cannabisless Expo.
This mean’t the expo was a fertile germination ground for every single CBD product known to mankind.
Just like the USA, the CBD craze has hit the streets and everyone seems to be swept up in it.
As I walked the floor, I caught snippets of enthusiastic sales pitches claiming all sorts of nonsense – claims that simply cannot be made for CBD products. The only ‘proven’ medical efficacy of CBD is a couple of rare forms of epilepsy, the rest – without any clinical trials data on humans – is purely anecdotal.
One thing was for certain, the Expo had attracted a great deal of inquisitive first timer non cannabis users, to a full spectrum of isolated CBD vendors to bamboozle the unaware. In fact, the only mention of hemp was in ‘full spectrum hemp CBD’. It would seem the days of bio fuel, fodder and clothing are a thing of the past for hemp, such is the demand for ‘ CBD hemp’ products.
It’s amazing how short the human memory can be. There was even a sign offering people a free medical cannabis consultation. Who, I wondered was qualified enough as a doctor in SA to give cannabis medicine diagnostics. There was even a claim that matched strains to cures. Yes, cures…..
There’s nothing like setting yourself up for failure.
Apart from Fields Of Green For ALL, there were two other non profit companies at the expo. The Umzimvubu Farmers Network were reminding everyone with CBD fever that the glyphosate spraying of their crops by police helicopters, although stopped, has lasting effects for their rural communities. The other NPO attending was the Siyazisiza Trust, a KZN based rural food security initiative. Indigenous foods,ncluding cannabis as a 600 year old cash crop, is on their agenda for the poorest of rural communities. A far cry from CBD enriched dog treats.
We used the expo as a launch pad for a new ‘Stop The Cops’ initiative. We have decided to have an interdict written to the police by our legal associates with victim testimonies, to remind them every time they set food on someone’s property without a warrant to destroy someone’s Dagga patch, they are directly ignoring a Constitutional Court judgement.
The police are without question on the warpath again, and are using their far reaching powers to remain judge and jury when it comes to cannabis cultivation.
The people who came to the FGA stand during the four days were quite taken aback to be reminded that prohibition is still very real, incarceration for long weekends is still normal and a cops attitude to a ganja user is unchanged. We’re still guilty scum to many of them and of course the Hawks are completely desensitised bullies. The quickest donations came from people who had been arrested and had suspended sentences. They got it immediately. Others were glad to get away from the Expo party poopers as we described ourselves. I was generously given the stage on all four days to explain ‘Stop The Cops”, our Desired Outcomes document, and the day to day workings of FGA. The wizard #HotboxShow tech crew live streamed the Saturday afternoon presentation to a full audience.
Expo party poopers indeed!
Every time someone mentioned a license, we suggested all the people with criminal records for Dagga should be at the front of the queue for any concessions. Payback time from the government for all the years they robbed South Africans of their liberty for small time possession.
From our angle as a legalisation NPO, every day dealing with the harms of prohibition; the arrests, bail hearings, random drug tests and all the other cannabis prohibition cruelty, it was easy to see the cart was way before the horse. Who are all these people who have come from nowhere since the judgement and are now cashing in on a fledgling cannabis industry? where were they when the fight was on, because it’s plain to us the fight’s not over yet?
We’ll keep bridging the gap between civil society, the suits and the stoner community. Non of this is going away. It is only going to get crazier as cannamania kicks in, and the international corporations jostle for investment positions. Hell, even the main sponsor of the Expo, GoLife, is affiliated to Tilray, Canada’s enormous pharmaceutical cannabis company. Is SA’s cannabis industry is slowly being captured by the Canadians? It looks like it.