Not quite what Alan Paton wrote in “Cry, the Beloved Country” published in 1948, the year of the birth of apartheid, but we can cry for our beloved plant and our beloved country as the powers that be are poised to sell us out to foreign interests.
With the “legalisation” of Cannabis in Canada last week we see how licensed producers are the only producers in Canada. Licensed by the government who have favoured their cronies. A long list of people we never heard of in the dark days of prohibition. Powerful people in government and law enforcement have become shareholders of huge Cannabis factories, raking in the billions. We were at the United Nations in New York for UNGASS 2016 when Canada announced their plan to “legalise” Cannabis. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his government’s intention to “protect the youth and root out organised crime” in every speech on the day Canadians got to buy their legal pot from a government shop. There was not one happy announcement from anyone who had been involved in the struggle to “free the weed” or anyone who had been incarcerated, victimised or otherwise adversely affected by prohibition. The warriors in the battle have not been awarded any medals. The war is not over.
Meanwhile in Southern Africa… This appears on Twitter and the intentions of the huge, moneyed, elite companies are clear. What is a “Director of Government & Stakeholder Relations”? Someone to lobby our politicians until the dollar signs are filling the room? Someone to pick up the bill for lunch?
“To perfect and disrupt” – what does that mean? They are coming to perfect our plant for us? They are coming to disrupt our what? Our centuries old tradition of cultivation, trade and use of Cannabis?
Years ago we were hounded by Canadian & Israeli companies trying to get to our government ministers through us. We laughed them off, making it quite clear that we are suing our government in court and they disappeared off of our screens, only to rear their heads again once we scored a part victory in the Constitutional Court. Now there is talk of the Dept of Health starting to issue licenses. Who is getting them? Who has enough money to pay for all the pages and pages of requirements? Certainly not one farmer along that lovely road that runs from Lusikisiki into the hills.
When I think of the challenge of standing up for our farmers, our traditional healers & every single ordinary South African who wants to see real economic development through the re-legalisation of Cannabis in SA, I get a huge knot in my stomach. We certainly have the support of many international organisations fighting for the same right around the world. The Transnational Institute champions this cause and it is worth noting their publication: “Connecting the Dots… Human Rights, Illicit Cultivation and Alternative Development.”
“How can we resolve the tensions between current drug control policies and states’ human rights obligations? The international human rights framework clearly establishes that, in the event of conflicts between obligations under the UN Charter and other international agreements, human rights obligations take precedence. As legally regulated cannabis markets start to grow, now is the time to secure a legitimate place for small farmers using alternative development, human rights and fair trade principles.”
I don’t know how to get rid of that knot in my stomach. Since the early days of trying to get to the government through us, the big international 1% companies have never contacted us or shown any interest in supporting those who are changing the law. Are we going the same way as Canada? We need those of you who continue to ask questions about licenses to think about this.
A licensing system will hand our Cannabis industry to the elites. On a plate.
We will continue to speak to the international drug policy reform experts and maybe this will help in the end. In the meantime, what are YOU doing to secure our future from this onslaught? Maybe you want a job with a big Cannabis factory and don’t give a damn? If you care you will be extremely worried to know that the #Goeftas are here! As our state capture inquiry rolls on – chaired by none other than Justice Zondo, the very same chief Justice who handed down the Constitutional Court judgement that gave us our privacy and protection of our private spaces from a hundred years of police brutality.
We are working on the civil society’s Proposals for the Legal Regulation of Cannabis in SA.
Is THIS going to happen to Cannabis Regulation is South Africa?
“Regulatory capture is a form of government failure which occurs when a regulatory agency, created to act in the public interest, instead advances the commercial or political concerns of special interest groups that dominate the industry or sector it is charged with regulating. When regulatory capture occurs, the interests of firms or political groups are prioritized over the interests of the public, leading to a net loss for society. Government agencies suffering regulatory capture are called “captured agencies”.”
By now we realise that support from international experts, if it is forthcoming & affordable, will only get us so far. However, we are working on strengthening our ties with each and every community organisation, South African business and ordinary citizen who understands that the threat is real. It sounds idealistic to say “We shall overcome” or “United we stand” but our list of Local Organisations & South African Affiliates is growing each day. It is our hope that civil society’s awareness of the real threat to the future of our beloved plant grows at the same time. We need the #Gooftas to KNOW that we are here, we are watching, we have mobilised and we will shout from every hill and valley in our beautiful land: “NOTHING ABOUT US WITHOUT US!”
Have a look at what is happening in Columbia, a country that is, historically, demographically and socially VERY similar to SA. Thanks to our international affiliates, Cannabis News Network, Sensi Seeds & TNI for the work that they do in helping rural communities around the world. (Parts 2 & 3 on YouTube)