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Open Letter to those in our Cannabis Community Opposing the Signing of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill

Open Letter to those in our Cannabis Community Opposing the Signing of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill

Activist organization Fields of Green for All has come out in support of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill which is sitting on the President’s desk, waiting to be signed into law. FGFA co-founder Myrtle Clarke says the Bill will see cannabis taken out of the Drugs Act and its imperfections can be tweaked in future legal challenges.

Myrtle Clarke, co-founder Fields of Green For All

2 May 2024 at 08:00:00

This post first appeared on Fields of Green for All website on 25 April 2024


The South African government has a public relations problem. Everyone knows that. Should our government have put out a press release about the process that they intend to follow with regards to Cannabis, perhaps we wouldn’t be seeing these divisions in our community, which we certainly cannot afford.


However, the bosses are not going to polish up their act anytime soon so it is left to the community to speculate, or strategise. Take your pick.


Calling one another conspiratorial names also won’t help anyone.


Fields of Green for ALL supports the signing into law of the imperfect (nobody ever suggested that it was perfect) Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill (CfPPB) because this means that Cannabis will be taken out of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1992, with all sorts of happy knock-on consequences. 


Cannabis, now defined to exclude ‘hemp’, will no longer be broadly PROHIBITED. This significant step is a gain for us all, and will create an enabling environment in which we can move forward with regulations, plus actions that further advance our human rights. We would rather bring Court challenges to tweak the bits and pieces than to continue to fight for years for the big, broad stuff already being offered to us. This will serve to narrow the aim of any further strategic litigation.


Threatening to hold our State President in contempt of court is not only nonsensical, but will keep our community in a static, combative and uninformed position. Such action, should it even be possible or viable, is not strategic. It is knee-jerk and hardly constructive.


Nobody ever said that we want an unregulated free-for-all, even in private. If they did, they were rightly laughed off stage. That’s not how the social contract works. Regulations were always on the cards. That is what legal regulation is all about – striking a balance between legitimate state and civilian interests. 


Who knows how the regulations will unfold or what the process will be? Who knew that we would only get privacy in the March 2017 judgment in the Western Cape High Court, which informed the 2018 judgment of the Constitutional Court? Internationally, this was groundbreaking. At home, we’ve come to realise that it sucks … sort of. But please let’s move forward, instead of stagnating in our own pity.


The answer to over-regulation isn’t zero regulation. It’s a constructive debate about the correct balances, which won’t be had if we don’t move forward from out of the starting blocks. How do we even have that debate until we see the proposed draft regulations to the CfPPB? Unless we are willing to wait years more to budge an inch, only those regulations can address and mitigate the most worrying aspects of the CfPPB – penalties and plant counting.


Fields of Green for ALL has been working with our “Ten Crisis Points” for a few years now. The CfPPB does not tick any of these boxes, but we STILL support our President signing. We have solutions. Our whole Cannabis community has solutions. The CfPPB is not a one way street. Please don’t implore us to go backwards. Look how far we have come. Self interest cannot be allowed to beat the collective interest this time. This is about more than Oom rooking loads of homegrown boom on his couch. Take a look outside and see that there are others patiently waiting to benefit from the potential of cannabis. 


Ubuntu, matey!


One of the most common fallacies in Western philosophy is All or Nothing” and this “presents a false dilemma by suggesting that there are only two options – either all or nothing – when in fact there are many more options in the middle ground between those two extremes.”  Continuing to be entirely uncompromising means that we will remain at 0%, when something that is a pass-worthy percentage is peaking just over the near horizon, with potential for even more improvement.


The signing of the Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill by our President presents numerous opportunities, not failures – a fresh start after the dark days of being stuck in the regime of the Drugs Act. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater, or lose ourselves in our own smoke.

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