Weedstock Cancelled – Debrief

By |Published On: February 29th, 2016|

Weed2 TwitterWe have been planning a very special festival called Weedstock since November last year.
On Thursday afternoon at 2pm, 20 hours before the gates opened, we received an email from the SAPS to tell us that the last piece of permission – one signature – would not be granted. If we proceeded with the event it would constitute a criminal act and the organisers  would be arrested and face a large fine, imprisonment and confiscation of the equipment hired for the event.

It was this last threat that led us to make the extremely difficult decision to cancel. Hundreds of thousands of rands worth of equipment was already at the venue and we couldn’t take the chance with other people’s property. We have been accused of giving up too easily. Walk a few steps in our shoes and you will know that we tried EVERYTHING. This is how the events unfolded:

  • In January we had to postpone the event because of problems with the venue in The Cradle of Humankind outside Johannesburg. A mysterious petition against the event surfaced a few weeks before. The local police declared the road outside the venue to be “medium risk” and escalated the permission procedure to provincial level, making it impossible to get the signoff in time.
  • We moved the event further out of town, to a farm outside Bronkhorstspruit. The owner of the venue assured us that he had hosted several music festivals, the latest being a trance party in November last year. The organisers of the party had been to the local municipality who were not interested in events for under 2000 people and were assured that no permissions were necessary. The owner assured us that no permissions were necessary for the event on his private land and cited the Ramfest event in 2014 attended by 18000. We paid him in full to secure the venue.
  • HOWEVER, because of our experiences in the past, we prepared all the documentation we usually do and hired the necessary security, medics and equipment in line with standard procedure. We prepared a 63 page document to have ready at the door should the police rock up unexpectedly.
  • On Monday afternoon the Bronkhorstspruit SAPS phoned the owner of the venue to say that they had seen the event on Facebook. They believed that 16000 people were coming because of the “invite” numbers on the page. At that stage we had sold 400 tickets.
    On Tuesday morning Myrtle & our safety officer went to see the station commander. She showed us a Facebook screen grab from when the event was still called “Weedstock in the Cradle” – 7 weeks old.
  • We immediately took our 63 page document to the office of the Tshwane municipality in Pretoria. The director of events looked through the documents and approved everything on the checklist. He added a few things that were not on the official checklist but we were able to provide these later that day. The only thing that was missing was ONE signature from the SAPS to categorise this as a “low risk” event, in keeping with all of our other events, even those where we hosted up to 5000 people.
    We took the form back to Bronkhorstspruit where the station commander told us it had to be signed by a colonel in Johannesburg. We sent it straight through to him. Julian tried to speak to him on the phone and he claimed that we had to apply for this event 6 months in advance. We had never heard of this and this is the same colonel that attended our D.Day 4.20 event in 2014. Julian tried to ask some questions but he put the phone down.
    By now it was Wednesday. After a sleepless night, we contacted every person we could to resolve the issue but we failed. Sorry.

Legal Opinion:

“The event was cancelled due to it being tripped up by a relatively new law (at least the enforcement thereof, the Act itself having been promulgated in 2010). The relevant Act being the Safety at Sports and Recreational Events Act, 2 of 2010.  This Act was necessary to ensure safety at primarily “Sports” events i.e. think football hooliganism and major sporting codes, rugby, cricket, motorcross etc. However it is drafted in a catchall sense to include religious and cultural events (which thus makes it fairly broad and applicable to any event). The enforcement of this Act is not applied consistently and certainly leaves more questions than answers. I would attribute no blame to Fields of Green for All or the organisers since they communicated with the relevant authorities  and were only advised of this extra, and indeed crippling, new requirement at the 11th hour. I would not proffer speculation as to the reasons why, but it leaves much to question.”

We have legal experts weighing up our options at the moment.  If we had to apply for this event 6 months in advance, why didn’t they call us when they took the Facebook screen grab 7 weeks ago?
How do political parties get permission to hold marches for thousands of people within 24 hours?
If there is any chance that a sinister “third force” is at play here, we will continue to make it clear that, as The Trial of the Plant approaches, we will not be deterred if this is a signal of how the authorities intend to fight.

On Friday evening 16 members of the SAPS arrived at the venue to try and catch us out. On Sunday morning there were still road blocks with dogs and guns on the road into the venue.

We are exhausted and disappointed but not defeated. We have always operated with integrity and despite some seriously ugly accusations on social media, we know that the vast majority of our supporters will see us through this difficult time. Now, more than ever, we need your support. This is truly about what is right, about the type of country we want and it is not only about our favourite plant. We can win this and together we WILL.

Thank you for your understanding.

“The secret to success is stumbling from failure to failure without any loss of enthusiasm.” Richard Branson

ALL TICKETS ARE REFUNDABLE at www.ticibox.com. By the time we cancelled we had sold 548 tickets. Thank you to those who have offered to forego a refund so that we can cover some of the costs incurred. Refunds are available until 11 March 2016.

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SUPPORT THOSE WHO SUPPORT LEGALISATION

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About the Author: Myrtle Clarke

Everyone here on TGN should know who I am!

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17 Comments

  1. Mickey Dangerez September 10, 2017 at 8:29 pm - Reply

    In regard to your legal opinion that state “I attribute no blame to Fields of Green for All because they were only advised about this requirement at the 11th hour” it’s not the work of the police to educate event organisers of the legal requirements, you’ve hosted a cultural event in JHB CBD where this law also applies!

  2. Mickey Dangerez September 10, 2017 at 8:17 pm - Reply

    lol gets arrested for lots of dagga then affraid to get arrested for hosting a culture/music festival. I never bought the official story.

  3. liberty first March 16, 2016 at 3:46 am - Reply

    Because the best way to legalise it is by having some stupid hippie fest? What more stereotypes do you want to reinforce? And then you quote that leftist moron Richard Branson. You just lost a supporter, won’t be donating again.

  4. Marylou&Bruce March 1, 2016 at 10:13 am - Reply

    dear Myrtle and Jules, I am so sorry the event was cancelled, but more sorry about the few horrible trolls on social media. Isn’t it telling that these people have multiple and fake profiles? They are doing exactly what the police wanted- causing more harm than is necessary. Such cowards, driven by their own personal and bitter agendas and they must be ignored. They are background noise. We are fully aware of your your full time, dedication and massive financial commitment to the re-legalization cause. We have faith in you and will support you wholeheartedly.. Bruce and I thank you for everything.

  5. Mpho March 1, 2016 at 10:11 am - Reply

    I want to donate R 250 , we’re do I do it

  6. Tommie le Roux March 1, 2016 at 9:45 am - Reply

    We are all very disappointed that Weedstock was cancelled but now we are even more determined to get our freedom from this ridiculous prohibition.
    MoFAYA
    OneLOVE

  7. Fawzia Moola March 1, 2016 at 6:12 am - Reply

    Not beeb :) but been

  8. Fawzia Moola March 1, 2016 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Should have beeb hear

  9. Fawzia Moola March 1, 2016 at 6:09 am - Reply

    This is indeed sad to her Myrtle and Jules. You are pioneers of a new era and of course will be thwarted in your good works.
    I really honour your spirit and commitment to this wonderful cause for the uplifment of humanity

  10. E March 1, 2016 at 2:13 am - Reply

    please keep going, this has shown us all that we do not yet live in the democracy that our constitution promises

  11. Miri February 29, 2016 at 5:35 pm - Reply

    Thank you for all the effort you put into everything you guys do and not giving up.
    We will always support you no matter what happens.

  12. Soph Loxton February 29, 2016 at 4:13 pm - Reply

    I’m gutted to hear how you were given the run around. We must fight for our rights and
    Not give up hope. I know how hard you work. Truly disappointing news but not your fault.
    Thank you for trying.??

  13. Quintin van Kerken February 29, 2016 at 3:12 pm - Reply

    Hi guys,

    This was definitely one of those decisions that was not made lightly. We commend you on the way that you handled this whole thing – with integrity and professionalism.

    With anything in life there will always be the noisy rabble that do not understand the intricacies of an event of this magnitude, and they will make more noise than anything. Please ignore them.

    Since the day we met, I have firmly stood as a fierce ally in the battle to end prohibition, and as the head of the Anti Drug Alliance, I can tell you that our organisation fully supports your fight.

    Moreover, you are dear friends, and we love you guys.

    • Jeremy Acton February 29, 2016 at 4:43 pm - Reply

      Seconded.

    • Tommie le Roux March 1, 2016 at 9:44 am - Reply

      Seconded

    • Marylou&Bruce March 1, 2016 at 10:03 am - Reply

      well said Quinton.

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