Don’t tell Neil Liddell the wheels of justice move slowly. The Haze Club (THC) director is all too painfully aware of how the legal system is stuck between two speeds: very slow and even slower.
This time delays have been due to Covid-19
His lawyers have been fighting for a Cape High court date to determine the legality of private cannabis clubs following his arrest almost a year ago. He was charged under the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act after police raided THC’s grow-op in Ottery, despite his protestations that the club was entirely legal and in line with the 2018 Constitutional Court ruling.
Prosecutors agreed to back off pending his bid to the Western Cape High Court to seek a declaration on the legality of private cannabis clubs, despite their belief their case was sound.
Andrew MacPherson of Ward Brink Attorneys says the delays have been extremely frustrating as his client wanted resolution as soon as possible. He told Cannabiz Africa he had hoped to get a September court slot but that Covid had affected the senior members of the legal teams. “We are waiting for agreement for possible dates in November” he said on 13 September 2021.
Law under which Liddell has been charged is “unconstitutional’
Schindlers Attorneys is assisting pro bono in the THC case, and has drawn attention to the fact that the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act of 1995 under which Liddell has been charged, is unconstitutional. Schindlers’ Paul-Michael Kiechel told Parliament’s Justice and Portfolio Committee on 31 August 2021 that the Act should be revised “in toto” as it was “outdated, unscientific and irrational”.
Right now this is not of much comfort to Liddell, who many see as the guy who’s taking it for the team in the private cannabis club space. His livelihood has been put on hold and he has the threat of jail time hanging over his head, while other private cannabis clubs are operating “normally”.
Cannabiz Africa knows of at least 30 legally constituted cannabis clubs in South Africa, most established with the help of Kobus Schoeman of Grow One Africa. Schoeman has drawn up a constitutionally and legally-sound template for private cannabis clubs and most of them are operating with the full knowledge of local police.