Hundreds arrested every month for cannabis offences
Hundreds of people are still being arrested every month for cannabis offences, despite the South African government’s intention to push through legislation allowing for commercial trade.
Among the recent high profile arrests have been that of:
- King Khoisan who was growing cannabis at the Union Buildings
- Five police officers caught dealing from official vehicles at the Sedibeng Taxi Rank;
- A “syndicate” representing several rural villages supplying cannabis to the Garden Route
- Two Eastern Cape men running a R4 million unlicensed grow-op at Lady Grey in the Eastern Cape
While the Premier of the Eastern Cape and President Ramaphosa have both said that cannabis reform would benefit the poorer communities, especially in the Eastern Cape, they are currently bearing the brunt of the criminal justice system which still defines cannabis, including hemp, as a narcotic.
South African Cannabis Development Council chair Gareth Prince told Daily Maverick on 17 February 2022f proper consultation between Government and the farmers and communities who grew the plants for a living. He said South Africa needed extensive legal reform and for this public input was vital, and in the meantime, cannabis-related arrests had to stop.
“We do not have the time or the money to fight every arrest. The politicians are ineffective and not doing their jobs but we are the ones who get arrested and put in prison. ”
“There must be a legal source of dagga,” he said. “The Constitutional Court failed to make provision for one.
Prince: Move the national conversation to dagga, not just hemp and medical cannabis
“Firstly, we want the President to talk about dagga. The plants that grow in the Transkei. He talks about hemp and medical cannabis. These are all plants that must be imported,” Prince said.
“We were not particularly impressed by the President’s speech. Our government officials do not have a clear understanding of what needs to be done to get this right. Hemp and medical cannabis industries are dependent on imported varieties, and at the same time our local variety dagga remains as the focus of criminality,” Prince said.
“Our dagga can do exactly what hemp and medical cannabis can do. The dagga industry must be formalised into the legal economy of South Africa,” he said.
“The national conversation must move to working with dagga, towards using dagga for the production of food, building of houses, making books and paper.
“There are thousands of jobs in the legal dagga industry. It is the best opportunity for the province to alleviate poverty. But now the President wants us to focus on hemp and medical cannabis instead.”
He said consultations about a law that will regulate the legal use of dagga were done online and representations and consultations were only in English – excluding hundreds of farmers in the Eastern Cape who grow dagga.
King Khoisan bust after growing cannabis at the Union Buildings for a year
The highest profile cannabis arrest this year was that of ‘King Khoisan’, who had set up an informal settlement at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. He and three others were arrested for growing cannabis plants and not obeying Covid restrictions by not wearing face masks in public.
Watch his arrest here: