Culture February 29, 2016

Police Shutdown South African Cannabis Festival

If you asked just a week ago what I thought about cops who arrest cannabis users I would have responded with the same answer I have always given, the same answer that I had always believed. “It’s not the cops who are the bad guys, they’re just doing their jobs and it’s the law that’s broken”. This weekend that naivety met an abrupt end when it was set on fire, chucked out the top story cop shop window and the flames unceremoniously pissed out.

By now you may or may not have heard about the last minute cancellation of Weedstock, South Africa’s first cannabis culture inspired music festival, set to take place over this past weekend. Everything had been taken care of. The provincial authorities had given their approval for the event and all the professional formalities of putting on something of this magnitude had been dealt with. All was on track until just a couple of days before we were set to kickoff when the local cops suddenly raised an eleventh hour objection. Expertly timed for maximum impact, the last minute spanner from the South African Police Service left the organisers with no option other than to pull the plug on the event. The Dagga Couple cleared the air with a statement on Saturday explaining what had gone down:

“It’s been a roller coaster 24 hours. We’ve scrambled to get all the equipment out of the venue. A quantum full of fully armed cops arrived at 18.30 yesterday evening to prove their point. We are sorry you are all so gutted, but we feel vindicated that we pulled the plug. We are, personally, hundreds of thousands down in the bank and by holding the event, we would have faced complete financial ruin if they’d impounded all the sound and generators.

It’s worth noting at this point that this is the same police force that we are dealing with legally for all the crop spraying in Pondoland and we can’t help but feel that there are sinister forces at play here.

We have a 63 page document ‘signed and noted’ by the Tshwane municipality for the event, but the local police never had any intention of letting this event happen. It’s now obvious to us they’ve been watching us since the the postponement of the first Weedstock date in January. Bronkhorstspruit has to be one of the most conservative enclaves in the country and made it clear they were ‘acting on information’.

Once again, thank you to everyone for being so amazingly supportive.”

Unlike the many local movements that resort to pillaging, destruction and violence to make their points; the local cannabis movement has always favoured fair play, very much the opposite of the good for nothing rapists and murderers riddled with schizophrenia that the War on Drug fans so love to paint us as. So while the applicable cops are likely to be smugly celebrating their bluntly executed move, one can’t help but wonder if they haven’t in fact put the PR ball into the back of their own net. That cannabis growers, suppliers, buyers and users have always provided low hanging fruit for easily meeting arrest quotas is no secret. Nor is it a secret how cops so love to tend to illicit cannabis crops and proudly take endless selfie after selfie with seized weed. Yet now we are now witnessing something that while not new to South Africa, is something new to the the post Apartheid generations of cops. An age old tradition of being an eager instrument in the oppression of a culture that is desperately trying to find its place in South Africa.

As one of those who had leaped with both feet into Weedstock only to be met by a poorly executed SAPS back alley abortion, I will be bleeding heavily alongside our fellow comrades for a while. The financial wounds will however heal with time. It is my opinion of the police that will never be the same again and I live in hope that it will not take the torching of institutions, destruction of art, Molotov’ing of buses, looting of stores, flinging of shit and fucking each other up on rugby fields before we are allowed the freedom to be our cannabis using selves.

Related news

South Africa’s Finest Smoking Gear

  • WhoisJohanGalt

    When applying for a permit to hold an event the police should be consulted at the beginning of the process. Clearly this didn’t happen, in fact it seems from the WeedStock ‘debrief’ that headless chickens only started this process two days before the event… but ticket sales and promotion had been going on for months.

    This is not the fault of the police, but with those who didn’t consult them. This is clear.

    Selling tickets while knowing you didn’t have permits and permission is nothing but a scam, all those who don’t get their money back just fell prey to a Nigerian 419 Nay 420 Scam!

    In fact this is the 3rd event that failed because of no permits, remember the Dagga Couple’s 2015 Soweto / Durban Global Cannabis march? No? well that’s because it didn’t happen… just like WeedStock… and for the same reason.

    • Bergie

      refunds have been made available, so how exactly is it that this is a scam? The cops would have been fully aware of the event months in adnvance and chose to close the event down at the last hour in order to cause maximum loss to the organisers and those who were due to be vendors at the event.
      The Dagga Couple have put their freedom on the line to bring an end to these unjust laws which are so pervasive in our society. To equate the DC to fraudsters is ludicrous and unfounded.

      • WhoisJohanGalt

        refunds have been made ‘available’ – you still have to apply for it in a given time frame, or the money is still given to the event organiser. The cops were not aware of the event months in advance – this is clear from the WeedStock debrief – the DC had their papers ready at the gate to give to Police if they showed up. (That was the plan in their own words).

        So it is clear more time (months) were spent on marketing and ticket sales than actually trying to hold a legal event – or they simply would have consulted with the relevant authorities in November LAST YEAR… which they didn’t

        So it’s disingenuous to say that the fault lies with the Police; the fault lies with the organisers. Who sold tickets to an illegal event they knew could be shut down. ie. #420Scam

        The question is how many tickets were sold:

        Myrtle says 400
        Jules says 1,500
        Ticibox says all 3,000 online tickets were sold
        Have no Idea how many tickets were sold from vendors

        so who is lying here?

        • James

          Your references misleading… Jules never said 1500 tickets were sold, he said “approximately 1,500 people had been expected to attend.” – That’s very different…

          Also, where is your reference for Ticibox saying 3,000 online tickets were sold?

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            So those attending were not ticket holders?

          • Buzz Rsa

            Tickets were to also be available at the gate and the sales thereof could not realistically be counted among the existing online ticket sales that you’ve quoted. You’re also not factoring in the staff, bands, crew, traders and security who would not be a part of the online sales.
            Your ticibox link makes no reference to Weedstock nor the amount of tickets sold.

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            there’s a telephone number call it like I did… but now that you mentioned the bands – I find it very odd that of the 60 bands that were to play one maybe two posted on social media that they were playing – or that the party had been cancelled. I find this very strange in this day and age for a band with a social media presence… #JustSaying

          • Buzz Rsa

            It’s up to you to make your claim of 3000 tickets stick, not me who claimed it.
            You will also notice the distinct lack of bands promoting the event prior to the cancellation. Argument cuts both ways, so I personally wasn’t surprised by the all round lack of band chatter pre and post the weekend.
            Are you sure that you are following all of the bands on social media though as you naturally wouldn’t see their updates unless you were #JustSaying

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            yes I mentioned there was no pre or post chatter – which is strange; and you don’t have to follow a band to be able to see what’s on their timeline with dates #JustSaying

          • Buzz Rsa

            Okay, that was wrong of me to assume that you hadn’t gone to everyone of their individual pages to check their timelines.
            Not the sort of thing I would do, but I accept and respect the fact that we are different people who do things differently.

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            It remains strange that bands with a social media presence don’t post their gigs or cancellations. Not in 2016.

          • WhoisJohanGalt
          • StickyScissors

            You just linked to a contact page…

    • Tony van der Veen

      I suggest you read the Dagga couple’s statement before making such sweeping statements. Everything was in order, but the police added the requirement at the last moment.

      • WhoisJohanGalt

        I did read the statement and in the comment I made below you can see I refer to it. What I see there is that the SAPS were consulted for the 1st venue and failed attempt. For the second attempt they were specifically not included in consultations – and the Dagga Couple state that there were going to have the forms at the gate for the police if they arrive.

        The police were never consulted in the first place. What do you expect them to do with 2 days notice? HUH?

        It’s totally disingenuous to say this is the Police’s fault! NA AAAA it’s the organisers fault!

    • Buzz Rsa

      Doesn’t seem fair to laud the failings of events without including the 3 successful headline making Johannesburg D-Day events in the same breath, as well as their dozens of smaller on the ground events, talks and participation in seminars held all over South Africa. Nor does it seem fair to criticize them so harshly, when you aren’t prepared to help shoulder the weight and lead by example.
      You’ve gone out of your way to alienate as many people as possible when trying to make your points about legalization. I hope there comes a time when you regain sight of the big picture, something so much larger than us and our fragile egos, and focus your passion on bridging the gaps that divide instead of enthusiastically burning them to the ground.

      • WhoisJohanGalt

        whoa I’ve just raised a few facts about this event, and it’s lack or organisation. If there were previous permits granted for much larger events – then it should be part of Fields Of Green For All’s experience of how to throw an authorised event that you visit the police regarding the event as a first stop – not a last stop.

        This article of your’s Buzz is disingenuous in the blame it lays on the police for the failure of this event.

        It was the organisers fault not the police’s.

        This is a fact of event organising. Me saying so does not mean I’m alienating myself, if people don’t like the truth well – then no I’m not going to sit in a circle with people who can’t be honest and sing Kumbayah with you.

        NA AAAA!

        • Buzz Rsa

          Your gripes and antics are not new.
          I am not the first one to cover this story, nor is my take inconsistent with that of other stories out there regarding this matter.
          You’ve made quite clear that you will not sit in a circle with anyone.
          I can live with that.

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            I can live with you calling it gripes and antics – if you won’t be honest and recognise the event management failure of the organisers and not the police.

  • We are all very disappointed that Weedstock was cancelled but now we are even more determined to get our freedom from this ridiculous prohibition.

  • Ft

    There are many seasoned event organisers in Johannesburg region who has organised biger events than these. If they have been contacted and hired to setup this event then we wouldnt be having this discussion. But I fear greed stopped this from happening.

    Also how can anyone be surprised that the Police closed down an event which is named after an illegal drug? Is it really that shocking? Do you believe that the Crack Cocain Festival would be allowed to happen?

    I fear that ego and greed caused alot of damage here. Goodluck.

    • Sticky Scissors

      Not true. The Dagga Couple have run bigger cannabis events in the past… Double the size. Here’s a quote:

      “We’ve actually had much larger gatherings. With Weedstock we were planning for a maximum of 2500 people, our 4/20 street party in Johannesburg in 2014 was more than 5000 and it’s exactly the same legal process. For Weedstock, the submitted a 63 page application to the Tshwane Council with every box ticked – medics and ambulances, toilets and waste management, disaster management, safety officers on site, and security – and the council signed off on it. Only one signature was missing. That was a signature certifying this as a low risk event. We were told by the Brokhorstpruit Police that the only person who can sign off on this is a high-ranking official in Johannesburg who signs these for the whole of Gauteng, but that seems to have been incorrect information. The 4/20 party in 2014 was signed off the day before the event without any hassles.”


    I see the same person is commenting under different aliases…. some people are bored!

    • WhoisJohanGalt

      This has been my Disqus name for over a decade – sadly when wanting to comment with my Facebook profile so you could see my Name and Face BTL went ahead with my Disqus profile. Some people are board because the entertainment they paid for turned out to be a donation drive rather than a planned event.

      • CANDIPOT

        Hahahaha! You are a laugh (also obviously have a guilty conscience lol), the event was an attempt to raise more of the much needed funds for the upcoming court case. As it is related to cannabis, obviously they are being blocked at every turn and try and get through any gaps they can because the SA government has ample access to legal fees (tax payers money) where the Dagga Couple do not. Time will tell if people complain about not being refunded. If someone chooses not to provide their banking details for a refund, then obviously they won’t be refunded, I mean that is not rocket science. The refunds are available and the Dagga Couple I am sure will endeavor to see all tickets purchases refunded. If you bought a ticket and want a refund, then just ask for one and include your banking details, they can’t refund your money to the air, they need to know where to send it…I mean isn’t it common sense.

        • WhoisJohanGalt

          No really you make me laugh – do you think I would have paid money for a 4th failed dagga event?

          • Buzz Rsa

            Doesn’t seem fair to say that without including the 3 successful headline making Johannesburg D-Day events in the same breath, as well as their dozens of smaller on the ground events, talks and participation in seminars held all over South Africa.

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            Ok; So the Crop Eradication talk of Myrtle’s (+- 45 mins in) – was rendered totally useless, when she did not object to the Common Africa Paper to be submitted to the UNGASS that supported African crop eradication for the next 10 years.

            and you know I’m sure those 4/20 events were piggybacking someone else’s event management permit – I could be wrong.

          • Buzz Rsa

            Now you’ve just gone way off track.
            Let’s please stick to the matter at hand and deal with your conspiracy theories one at a time

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            sorry I thought you wanted a pat on the back for all the good being done at ground and international level – I thought I’d just be fair and mention this great work; I take it I shouldn’t bring up the failed DC Soweto and Durban Global Cannabis march of 2015 either?

          • Buzz Rsa

            So these are above and beyond the “4” failed events that you’ve already raised?
            I don’t recall any Durian marches organised by the DC or FOGFA.
            Also don’t recall you having organised any marches or public events recently.

            Do recall the Pan Africa Cannabis Conference though. You spent a fair amount of time attacking the SAPS, as well as offending journalists and attendees.
            Yet now mere weeks later you are feverishly defending the cops.
            Have had my say. Nothing to be gained by trading comments with you.

          • WhoisJohanGalt

            Oh so what was that Pan-African cannabis thing? Anyway yes I’ll point out SAPS heavy handedness and racist application of cannabis prohibition. Which is the truth, just the same as I will point out this event failure is not their fault. Which is also the truth. Every cannabis event I have dealt with the police regarding a public event – it has been a fair meeting of the minds – not shouting and screaming at them, like Myrtle did. I didn’t even do that when addressing their tactics used in cannabis prohibition.

            Here let me jog your memory about 2015 Durban and Soweto


  • Rob Van Vee

    It’s quite amazing to see the extent some failed cannabis activists will go to in their desperate attempts at being in the spotlight again! Talk about inflated egos…

    • WhoisJohanGalt

      The only failure I see here is no WeedStock. Empty Fields of Green – no stages – a tent or two…

      • Rob Van Vee

        Fuck off troll

        • WhoisJohanGalt

          oh look a failed argument, that can’t support the evidence

  • WhoisJohanGalt

    As I pointed out:

    Metro police says they did not adhere to the requirements to get permission for the event.

  • Vik

    TL;DR .. the whole entire pissup that is
    So as to the question WhoisJohanGalt ? … my impression is “a faking troll”, rather not feed 😉

    My story: I only bought a ticket for Weedstock in order to support those taking our fight forward, If I wanna have a party, I will do that, anytime I want to.

    And I did not ask for a refund, its only R250. NOW, If R250 doesn’t mean much to you as well, why not leave it be to be refunded the court case, its for OUR greater good after all.