We are inundated with requests for information on how to obtain a license to cultivate, trade in, or use Cannabis for medical purposes (of course!). If you contact us about this you will receive this stock reply:
“Hello there. Everyone is asking the same question and we’re not sure of the answer. If the ‘old’ system is still in place, you’ll need a Section 21 application to grow medicine from the Department of Health. We keep sending inquiries in that direction but we don’t know of a single successful application. According to the Department of Health /Medicines Control Council, they will be promulgating guidelines for tenders, licences etc in February 2017. We are waiting to see how it will pan out. You can find the Section 21 application forms here http://bit.ly/sec21_weed and we’ll let the community know as soon as we hear of any progress. In the meantime, please consider supporting us by joining The Green Network as that is where the most important conversations are taking place.”
After fighting for nearly seven years for the legalisation of our favourite plant, we doubt very much that the government are going to back down easily and allow any “mom & pop” operation to obtain a “license”. Who says they are even going to be “giving out” licenses? What if a license costs R1 million, or even more? There are many questions and no sign of any answers yet. Quintin van Kerken of the Anti Drug Alliance (one of our expert witnesses for The Trial of the Plant) summed it up very well in a Facebook post in November 2016:
” The Anti Drug Alliance has fervently followed the new dagga bill and what it may mean for South Africa. Whilst we commend government for taking a (very minor) step in the right direction, we would like to highlight a few problems that we believe are major stumbling blocks in the process.
To begin with, the plant will be moved from Schedule 7 to Schedule 6. In plain language, this means that a doctor will be able to prescribe cannabis for diseases such as cancer / HIV, and for pain management (according to the numerous press releases). The prescription thereof will be under strict guidelines.
Some questions regarding this:
Who is going to educate the doctors so they know when to prescribe?
Does the prescription thereof also follow through to Traditional Healers?
Who gets to judge who is “sick enough” to get cannabis?
Words such as “justifiable medical reason” have been used, with no elaboration. Why?
Why does the government get to tell sick people, or any person for that matter, HOW and WHEN they are allowed to medicate themselves, and WHAT medicines they are allowed to use?
Next, the issuing of “special licenses” to grow the plant is a concern.
Who gets these licenses?
How do they apply?
What will the criteria be?
Are current “illegal” growers with a wealth of expertise and experience going to be allowed to apply?
Is it going to “go to tender”?
How many licenses will be issued?
What changes then need to be made to all the other Acts that concern dagga? Act 140 of 1992 (Drugs and Trafficking Act), Medicines and Related Substances Act, and how will this all be policed?
How many arrests will be bungled, how many civilian claims will be paid out by the police, simply because the cops on the street simply don’t know how to enforce the law, which experts even battle to understand?
It is already a major concern that certain political parties have issued statements that their efforts to fight the “drug war” will be intensifying, and that specialised units have once again been established. Does this not seem like a hypocrisy?
Quintin goes on to describe the hypocrisy in some detail. We know that the developments in parliament are a step in the right direction and we hate to “burst your bubble” but Cannabis (medicinal or otherwise) is NOT going to be available to ALL South Africans without a fight. That fight is happening in court, not in parliament. Parliament will be forced to act by the Constitutional Court.
The best way forward is to:
- Know the facts. Start by reading the MCC’s guide to scheduling of drugs. Once you know how the scheduling works you will understand that there is still a long way to go. Know the laws and processes that are being followed to change them. Don’t be naive by thinking this is a done deal because of one announcement in parliament.
- Be impeccable in what you do. If you are already operating a Cannabis “business” outside the law you have to be vigilant, know your stuff, don’t make outrageous claims and join Fields of Green for ALL’s affiliate programme. Don’t operate in a vacuum, it won’t get you anywhere. Everyone has a lot to learn and there is enough space for everyone. There is a reason we are called Fields of Green for ALL!
- Contribute to the conversation. Join The Green Network and have your say about what YOU think legal Cannabis should look like in SA. This conversation is happening right now.
- Help where you can. Visit The Dagga Couple How You can Help page, there are many options!
We know we will continue to receive mails from complete strangers wanting us to help them get a “license” but we hope that we can continue to help in the fight against the ignorance surrounding this complex subject. If anyone claims that they have a license to grow medical Cannabis they are not telling the truth and / or they are in cahoots with corrupt government officials. CANNABIS IS NOT LEGAL YET, IN ANY FORM, FOR ANY PURPOSE. There are no licenses or permits. Help us to change that, please.
Myrtle, Jules, William and the Fields of Green for ALL crew.