2023, The Year of the OG, was a remarkable show of what can be achieved when we work hard and keep fighting for Fields of Green for ALL!
We have decided that 2024 is the year that we “slay the Dragon of Prohibition”. We owe a nod to the Chinese Year of the Dragon for this! Or, as the popular narrative goes, let’s eat that dragon one bite at a time.
Small victories achieved last year finally started to see years of steady work by the SA Cannabis Community bear some promising fruit. Fields of Green for ALL, our Affiliate companies, local aligned Organisations and our Dagga Private Club family have collectively shown that we are not sitting around waiting for things to happen.
The Cannabis Expo in Johannesburg is always a good time to wrap up the year’s events:
We are pleased to report significant progress in our three focus areas – Strategic Litigation, Drug Policy Reform and Social Education:
Last year we welcomed our new legal team from Cullinan & Associates on board. Paul-Michael Keichel and Ricky Stone continue to steer our ship through the rocky weed waters with expert skill.
The Haze Club Case
Last year, Fields of Green for ALL was admitted by the Supreme Court of Appeal in Bloemfontein as Amicus Curiae – Friends of the Court. Together with the appellant, Neil Lidell, we are pleased to announce that the case has been set down to be heard on Friday 15 March 2024.
Although, strictly speaking, Dagga Private Clubs should be legal after the ConCourt judgement, we continue to see clubs, and particularly growers, raided by the SAPS.
Both Neil and FGA have paid dearly to see justice done in his case, which has been dragging on for years. We are very grateful for those who have supported Neil in his private capacity and our Dagga Private Clubs Project this far but we are facing enormous legal bills and continue to call on those who are already operating successful businesses through the grace of our collective efforts, to support us to pay these bills:
Fields of Green for ALL is represented by Stephan Bezuidenhout, #420Attorney in our community and Advocate Don Mahon, who many will remember for his impeccable command of the courtroom at The Trial of the Plant in 2017. Neil is represented by our homies at Cullinan & Associates with Paul-Michael Keichel steering that ship.
We haven’t said goodbye to Schindlers Attorneys as Pierre van der Merwe, together with Advocate Malcolm Lennox, is representing Burny Enever at the Labour Court of Appeal. The appeal hearing was held on 31 October and we await judgement.
Interdict Against the South African Police Services
The South African Police Service persists in denying our Cannabis Community our Constitutional and Human Rights by unlawfully arresting us and locking us up in cages. Most cases are thrown out by the courts, but only once the damage is already done. Fields of Green for ALL is still considering pursuing this interdict through the courts to ensure we are protected from law enforcement officials abusing their power to destroy the lives and livelihoods of participants in what the government has called “ a very promising sunrise sector”. However, litigation is expensive so we will wait to see the outcome of the passage of the CFPP Bill, the elections, the Haze Club Case and the Labour Court before proceeding with this.
DRUG POLICY REFORM
As the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill trundles its way through the system, Fields of Green for ALL was honoured to be given a seat at the table at the Phakisa Action Lab in June. Various academic and Cannabis-focused studies emanated out of the Phakisa and other esteemed institutions during 2023. Rigorous work on bolstering our evidence and educating law makers all helps to reduce the ultimate barrier to legalisation – stigma.
Emanating out of the Phakisa was (yet another) Directive from the SAPS, “directing” the police to respect our privacy. We have come a long way since the days of 1000 arrests per day but we will not stop until ALL arrests and incarceration for the use, trade and cultivation of Cannabis are a thing of the past.
Attending Africa Drug Policy Week was another highlight of our year. Drug Policy Reform is multi-facetted and our work is spurred on by the conviction that Cannabis is the gateway drug to more evidence-based policy as a whole.
Cannabis is a plant of global significance and we celebrated 2023 as the “Year of the OG” by sharing our story of progress in South Africa and networking with activists from all over the world. In particular, Germany, France, Spain, Austria, Malta, Switzerland and various African and South American countries, the USA and Canada. We ended 2023 with an online celebration of the 75th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and this is, together with our international comrades, always at the top of the agenda. We look forward to presenting and participating in side events at the Commission on Narcotic Drugs at the UN in Vienna again this year and will continue to share our uniquely South African story of progress with the world.
From the early days of The Dagga Couple to telling our South African story around the world, Fields of Green for ALL has always put the engagement with ALL at the top of our agenda. From making sure our voices are heard here at home to keeping African Cannabis on the international agenda, we could not do this without EVERYONE who supports us along the way.
2023 saw our support grow across all platforms and it is only through this that we are able to continue to fight for our collective Human Rights, Harm Reduction and Drug Policy Reform into 2024.
Thank you to EVERYONE who has helped to ensure that Fields of Green for ALL is able to continue to do this work.