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By Marizka Coetzer


Big blow for dagga ‘grow club’ model following court ruling

Police will also have to have a mind change to realise people with cannabis should not be arrested, even if it was a little

The cannabis community’s dream of trading marijuana went up in smoke earlier this week after a Western Cape court ruled the growing club model illegal.

Last year, the director of The Haze Club (THC), Neil Tristan Liddell, and his employee Adam van Houten brought an application against the minister of police to challenge the legality of growing cannabis.

They were arrested in October 2020 with more than 2kg of dried cannabis and over 300 plants, allegedly valued at R1 million.

This week, Judge J Slingers rejected the application and said recognising the grow club model would be impractical and nonsensical as it would contravene sections of the Drugs Act. Myrtle Clark, known with late Julian Stobbs as “the dagga couple”, said it was great that cannabis was in the news, despite the case being dismissed.

Clark said the problem was the private clubs popping up everywhere and splurging over social media with menus of stock. “That’s not a good thing because they are arrogant.

Okay, social disobedience comes into play, but they won’t like it when the cops come looking for them,” she said. Clark said the parliamentary committee had no idea how to formulate the Bill.

“Every time they come back to us; it becomes more unconstitutional. Why won’t the government listen to us, read our manifesto, and hear the evidence? Then they have something to hang on to because now they have nothing to hang onto.”

Grow One Africa director Kobus Schoeman said they won’t close their doors because they were not doing anything illegal. Rastafarian Steven Thapelo Khunou of the Marijuana Board said they were disappointed. “It is against the Constitutional Court judgment that gave the government two years to create new laws.

To date, the government has failed to do so,” he said. Khunou said it was “madness” that cannabis users were seen and treated as criminals. “We will continue to challenge it,” he said.

A criminologist at the University of Limpopo, Professor Jaco Barkhuizen, said the ruling was ironic. “Parliament hasn’t implemented the new cannabis legislation, nor has it done its duty to amend all the Acts, so people do not get arrested for the possession or cultivation of cannabis.”

He said the judge referred to the Dealing and Drug Control Act which had to be amended because of the Constitutional Court ruling four years ago.

“Police will also have to have a mind change to realise people with cannabis should not be arrested, even if it was a little,” he said. He said with all the crimes in SA, going after cannabis growers was an easy, soft target.

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