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.