Will this leave us high and dry, or will our visions and dreams truly fly?
I found myself wondering after the effects of South Africa’s Constitutional Court decision to partially legalize the use of cannabis wore off. I have a nagging feeling that it is not Afrikan people in general who will benefit from this landmark case. But there is still more work to be done. The tree must be wholly freed.
Many newspapers lapped up the news and the Business Day of 19 September 2018, even made it their cover story. But it was Mary Nel on the Sunday Times of 23rd September which carried a more succinct or balanced narrative. Headlined “Constitutional Court Ruling on dagga leaves brains somewhat muddled.”
She began, “The Constitutional Court has passed down a judgement that makes it legal for adults to cultivate and smoke dagga in their homes. The court ruled that the right to privacy was violated by prohibiting the possession, purchase or cultivation of dagga for personal consumption by an adult in a private dwelling. The case was pursued by various parties, including a Cape Town lawyer, Gareth Prince, who is practicing Rastafarian. It was opposed by , among others the ministers of Justice and Constitutional development, police and health; the national director of public prosecutions and the NGO Doctors for Life International.” Now this opposition is what we must investigate further. We need to understand exactly on what grounds do these ministries and a civil society formation find it correct to oppose the constitution of the land as well as the will of the people.
nel continues instructively: “The Constitutional Court’s judgement is to be applauded for doing away with the moralistic and paternalistic assumption that dagga use by adults in private is always wrong and unhealthy. SA joins a number of countries that have taken a similar step, among them Canada and Portugal.”
The complexity of the COnCourts decision centres around matter of persecution and legislation regarding trading in dagga/ganja/cannabis.
Essentially, the user can grow their own herbs yet they need to obtain the seeds elsewhere. So while the private citizen has rights, the so called dealer does not have the right to sell. This speaks to the difficulty that courts will have to determine what constitutes a public and a private space. For an example, is my body not my personal space wherever I may take it. Is my motor vehicle also not a private space, what about my Bed and Breakfast or Hotel room or even the home of my relatives or friends?
“The COnstitutional Court envisages instead that, provided dagga is used “in private and not in public”, it is protected by the right to privacy even if the adult in question is not at home or in a private dwelling.” Now if that does not sound rather confusing then I do not know what else is?
The Business Day ran a more business centric story. With headlines such as, “Hemp houses could spur job creation”; “Dagga chef rolls out the boom butter”, and “Ploy to trade legally in weed just the ticket”, which included this interesting quote from a user, “Transactions are always going to happen. We are going to trade and transact and purchase and swap in private.” The journalist, Katherine Child added. “He has thought of ways to circumvent the ban on the purchase of dagga – all based on not paying directly for it.”
Needless to say, it is obvious that this is only the beginning of a very interesting journey for this versatile plant.
But the most thought provoking headline is one that said ‘Cannabis trials are up in the air”, which deals with the lives of thousands of people facing prosecution for possession as well as dealing in Marijuana/dagga/ganja. I have been there too and I know how difficult it is to get off the roll without cash. There will be bribes and there will be mass confusion, but if the law is respected and the legal system does its job properly, we should be seeing a lot of presumed guilty people walking free and contributing bountifully to society.
My only advise to fellow Rastafari is “SAVE THE SEEDS and SECURE LAND”.
We will be writing soon about how so many multinational companies as well as pharmaceuticals have already planned just how to exploit the opportunities presented by the steady but sure international acceptance of the plant that Rasta’s love to call ‘The Healing of the Nations”.