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Private Cannabis Clubs Are The Way Forward as a Proven Harm Reduction Tool

Private Cannabis Clubs Are The Way Forward as a Proven Harm Reduction Tool

Charl Henning from Fields of Green for All argues that the Private Cannabis Club model is part of the template on which future cannabis policy can be built on, but warns the model is open to exploitation.

Charl Henning, Fields of Green for All

1 February 2024 at 08:00:00

This article was first published by Fields of Green for All on 25 January 2023.

The research has been done. Dagga Private Clubs are a proven Harm Reduction tool. This has been evident since the first clubs appeared as safe spaces in Spain over a decade ago.

The stigma surrounding Cannabis and its use is still alive and well in South Africa. The perceived harms of Cannabis are reflected in the ongoing arrests and media attention given to “What about the children?” and “Dagga laced with other drugs”, etc. What better way to reduce stigma than to provide SAFE spaces for ADULTS where they can obtain and enjoy QUALITY products, correctly labelled and served by TRAINED staff?

I live a 20 minute drive from the CBD (that kind) of Cape Town. I need to go to the city at least once a week, usually for work, which takes me to different corners of the city. Recently, every time I paid a visit, I encountered a new Cannabis outlet somewhere that I have not seen before, and I know the city well from when I used to live there. It is clear that  “the times they are a-changing”.

We are not free until we are ALL free!

Many Cannabis outlets in South Africa are PRIVATE clubs that are trying very hard to adhere to best practice for clubs , taking our Constitutional Court judgement to heart and guided by Fields Of Green For ALL, common sense and international best practice.

Any clubs should support and guide members on the use of Cannabis and ensure that they provide quality products and these two practises can be seen as as harm reduction tools.

Useful links:

ICEERS: Harm Reduction and Cannabis Social Clubs

 Social Dimension of Cannabis Social Clubs

Unfortunately some so called ‘clubs’ exploit our absent regulations  and prioritise profit over harm reduction and community. Many buy the SAPS more than just donuts, and are blatantly advertising their goods to passers by. Some seem to think they are protected under dodgy Section 21 ”licenses”. 

(The Section 21 issue is another blog for another day!) There are also many of those so-called “wellness vendors” that, by law, should only sell hemp and CBD products. Instead of club membership, they offer THC medibles and vapes, as these are (unlike Cannabis flower) not as obviously recognised.

Why are Cannabis Social Clubs promoted as a Harm Reduction tool?

  • These are safe spaces with access control.

  • Private Clubs reduce stigma.

  • Clubs educate members with what is otherwise hard to find information.

  • Clubs offer informed choices.

  • Most proper clubs tend towards selling only tested products, so you know exactly the potency of the product you are ingesting, which is a high priority with most regular and beginner      consumers.

  • Making informed choices also comes with the social advantage of sharing a private space with like-minded individuals.

  • Cannabis Social Clubs do their best to protect the growers, those that make products and those that consume it.

Despite all this, in 2024 the club model is still in question in Spain where it remains a regulative grey area.

A vibrant Dagga Private Club should, at least, also offer social activities such as comedy evenings, competitions, quiz nights, live music, video games or host pastimes such as yoga or craft. These undertakings help reduce stigma while building the community. Stoners are not always couch potatoes! You can do many more things when stoned than when drunk!

Many clubs have restaurants, not so many have bars. Having a no or restricted alcohol policy also creates a safer environment. These and many other harm reduction aspects of social clubs were included in a 4 year study researched by our international affiliate, ICEERS. The research team had the following to say about the study:

“This study delves into the demographics, behaviours, and social dynamics of members of Cannabis Social Clubs (CSCs) in Barcelona from 2017 to 2020. Analyzing data from 2007 members across five CSCs, it reveals that most members are young men, with an average age of 36.1 years, and shows gender differences in cannabis procurement patterns. The study also highlights the longer membership duration among women, older adults, and medical users, despite their lower cannabis use compared to young, recreational male members.”

Let’s not forget that Fields of Green for ALL is fighting alongside The Haze Club to clarify legal aspects surrounding clubs following the September 2108 Constitutional Court “Privacy” judgement. Our legal fees, and those of the main defendants, are astronomical! We invite clubs who would like to contribute towards these expenses and other strategic litigation – for the benefit of ALL – to sign up to become members of our Dagga Private Clubs Project.

More information about our DPC Project here.


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