Over the last five years it will have been tough to miss the multitude of headlines, both good and bad, about cannabis. From being a miracle cancer cure to heavy handed police enforcement efforts, it’s been practically impossible to miss both sides of the hype. Thankfully the time has now come for Mary Jane to finally have her day in court.
I’d be lying if I said we weren’t initially gutted when hearing that the Trial of the Plant would only be taking place from the 31st of July 2017. Having been on this road for what sometimes feels like a lifetime, watching the bucket being kicked down the road for another year brought on an instant sad-face. But after sleeping on it and realising that this actually now provides the ideal opportunity to strengthen our efforts, it became clear that this would be a blessing and allow for an even stronger case to be put forward by The Dagga Couple and their panel of expert witnesses. “The various deadlines are realistic and attainable by the defendants (the government) so there will be no room for further postponements. We mentioned before that a judge would be appointed to manage the case and we are pleased to announce that it will be Deputy Judge President Ledwaba himself, mediating between the parties and making sure that all deadlines are met. We take this as a sign that he is determined to get the show on the road.” said Fields of Green for ALL in their announcement of the date confirmation.
The time, effort and money so far invested in the Trial of the Plant has been monumental, with a team of professional attorneys working tirelessly to ensure that the applicable government departments can no longer postpone what is now considered by the courts to be a long term public interest trial. All indications are that the nearly month long case will deliver the definitive answer on whether the prohibition of cannabis is consistent with the South African Constitution. Given the judiciary’s much lauded and celebrated resilience when dealing with other matters of unconstitutional laws and behaviour, it is hard to imagine a verdict that will be any thing less than an affirmation that cannabis should be legal.
The jam may however be in defining what exactly “legal” means as it is doubtful that we will end up with a weed free for all being declared. Where the rest of the world is at in terms of cannabis law reforms is another variable that may play a part in defining the outcomes of the trial. So while the focus can now move beyond the “if” or “when” of dagga’s day in court, the real work needs to begin on the “how” of legalisation.