Let me start by saying this is an opinion piece. After working behind the scenes at Fields of Green for ALL since 2015, and a friend of Myrtle and Jules and The Jazzfarm since before they became The Dagga Couple, I’ve had this fire burning and something needs to be said to the Cannabis community at large. Consider this an open letter.
I do need to also make something clear – we absolutely cherish our Affiliates and current Green Network community – we could not have kept going without your continued support through some to put it bluntly, extremely trying times. It’s true that when you surround yourself with a small group of genuine, actively good humans, miracles can happen. Surely that day in September was a miracle – one created and driven by this very special community of ours that consistently shows up when it matters the most. This article I guess isn’t really for you, so before getting into it – light one up for Jules today!
Today is the day. 2 years since we lost half of our foundation and driving force.
Trigger warning as I talk about crime, Cannabis and murder and the harsh realities of being a non-profit organisation, in South Africa, fighting against human rights violations, a lackluster and corrupt Government, whilst working daily to create and share the only large body of evidence based research regarding all aspects of Cannabis in South Africa.
As I put all my thoughts down I can hardly believe this is actually reality. I could be writing a script for a Hollywood Blockbuster movie with everything we at Fields of Green for ALL have had to fight for to be here today. But I am getting ahead of myself – I talk about this further down this article with A Back Story and Context to Jules’ Murder
Please don’t mistake this piece as a plea for sympathy or pity. We are not by any means sitting back, woe is me, we’ve always been the ones actually taking action to make things better not just for us but for all South Africans, despite the circumstances. Sympathy doesn’t help. We need action.
I just can’t believe that 2 years is all it took to forget about the very people that made it possible for us to be where we are today in terms of Cannabis in SA. I’m saying all this because I know that Jules was never one to stand down or not speak up for something he believed in, no matter how hard it was to say or what backlash he faced for it. Jules was an advocate for speaking the truth, and that is all I am doing – speaking the truth because I really just think many of you don’t know. And I’m not blaming you for not knowing. We have tried (and I think succeeded to our own detriment) to put on a brave face. But someone needs to tell the real story of what it’s actually like, without Jules.
If you get emotionally triggered by what I say, maybe it’s because it struck a nerve and you know you feel you can or could have done more to help – it’s never too late.
So what is it really like without Jules? It’s hard. Really f***ing hard. We currently have less than 100 members of The Green Network – you can do the math in terms of how our monthly budget is doing, we have a small crew of people, productive stoners, who all have day jobs as well as the time they dedicate to Fields of Green for ALL, who have really had to try to keep this fight alive and make up for the huge loss, and create some sort of way forward.
We are a NON PROFIT! We run on donations. We do not do this for the money, and maybe sometimes, for a fleeting indulgent moment we’re not even sure why we are doing it anymore.
But someone has to do it. Someone has to say it. If I don’t say this, who will? If we don’t keep fighting for evidence based policy and for the freedom of the plant and ALL South Africans to benefit from it…. Who will?
If we didn’t compile the evidence used for the Cape Town High Court case – who would have?
Not a week goes by without another phone call of someone being arrested unlawfully on a Cannabis charge. Charl has heard thousands of these cases on our helpline and has patiently helped each and every one with the information and empathy they need.
There are over 100 stays of prosecution pending the outcome of The Trial of the Plant – which again, has everyone forgotten that the evidence was never fully heard in that trial and that it was only postponed?
Why are more Cannabis consumers and businesses not more interested in that case and what is happening?
Why do we only have less than 100 Green Network members who are willing to spend R49 a month to help. 2 litres of petrol worth to fuel the ongoing fight for evidence based research informed Cannabis laws that benefit ALL South Africans?
We would love to go back to court and finish this once and for all, but that takes millions of rands. We’re not a green rush business with millions to spend on licenses that regulate laws that don’t exist. Just because we’ve been around for so long doesn’t mean we’re actually seeing the benefits of our hard work.
Be careful what you wish for right? Because ironically, Fields of Green for ALL in reality means if you give willingly, dedicate your life to changing unjust laws, to helping over 100 people to get stays of prosecution, to force the Government’s hand to start taking some sort of action on the long road to Cannabis re-legalisation in South Africa……then there are a multitude of people that readily grab what seems like a good opportunity in a flourishing and rapidly growing new industry in South Africa without so much as a thought for the decade and more of hard work by actual, real, people. Human beings just like you.
And I’m talking about all the types of opportunists we’ve seen crop up, including the big chain stores selling CBD and plant derived items – what ever happened to Corporate Social Responsibility – especially when our unemployment rate is what it is? How about even R49 per board member to go to the actual real cost of the current semi, grey area, privacy legalisation that allows the soccer moms to spend hundreds of Rands on imported, processed products that could ALL BE DONE HERE LOCALLY? That is what we are fighting for – our locals – the original Dagga Farmers and traders. Is R49 a month too high a price to pay to support our legacy growers and stakeholders?
I just can’t help feeling like the larger part of the South African stoner and Cannabis community really need to get some fresh air and think about things and the fact that something as small as a R10 donation, by even 10% of the Cannabis users in South Africa, would mean we could be proactive, continue The Trial of the Plant, and end this grey area. Surely that seems like a better plan than just fawning to comply to proposed laws that violate our human rights?
We are a non-profit, we rely on donations to run. We cut costs to the minimum with everything we do and over the years we have been so lucky to have the individuals, brands and companies that have supported us financially and continue to support us, but really they seem to be the exception to the larger Cannabis collective of people. Even when a large Cannabis Expo charging a whole lotta bucks for stands at their event don’t think to donate one to the organisation that changed the environment that allowed them the opportunity to seize in the first place, our Affiliates came through and sponsored one for us as well as costs involved to be there at all.
Jules was always one for seizing the day, and in no way am I negating nor begrudging the hard work each company and individual person is now doing for themselves and their brands in this emerging industry, but please don’t forget about the important stuff. The stuff you don’t want to do, but need to happen to be able to not live in fear of being raided and arrested by the police.
Some may question but what about hosting another D-Day to raise funds? Why not? Because D-Day was Jules. (NB not to undermine how big a role all the other team members played – they all know who they are and how grateful we all are to them and their passion that took D-Day from a Dagga dream into a reality.)
Honestly though, none of us has the funds, manpower, energy and with the current lack of support, motivation to even try to take on such an enormous undertaking. Do you know what it takes to throw a successful event like that? There are whole companies and careers that exist just for that, with huge teams that make events for thousands of people safe and successful. Jules and a small team pulled it off year after year and this was by no means most of their full time jobs. Jules convinced Metro JOCK to sign off. Jules convinced them to give permission to consume Cannabis on the premises. Jules meticulously listened to all the artist submissions and genuinely loved the process of putting on this event for the Cannabis community in South Africa (in between some huffs and puffs of course that come with logistics of throwing said event).
Jules risked his own beloved Jazzfarm that he bought from his hard earning busking money once upon a time, by bonding the farm to raise the money needed upfront to throw D-Day. He risked his home to throw the biggest Dagga Day Party he could. To celebrate stoners of all colours and creeds.
And how has he been repaid for his work? Being murdered next to his partner in bed, in the very same home, not even a free man but out of jail on bail – the price of R1000 will forever be hanging over his head.
What else did Fields of Green for ALL get for the almost decade of every day work that was in large part the reason we have the 2018 Privacy Judgement?