What does life look like after the war on drugs has stopped? Cannabis shifting from the illegal to legal market impacted where, how, and for what reason the plant moved. The cataclysmic shift from underground/neighborhood block market to Wallstreet meant a lot of black and brown people who were dealt the worst-hand under prohibitions were pushed even further to the fringes.
Even with new regulation laws being implemented to provide for the global legal cannabis industry, there is a gaping structure and implementation that limits the social equity of allowing those arrested for cannabis-related crimes or neighborhoods disproportionately impacted before legalization to easily participate in the market. Positive impact and sustainable change can be achieved through expungements, employment, ownership, local reinvestment, and other quantifiable metrics to shift distrust and resentment from the members of the previously affected and disenfranchised.
Some celebrities joining the cannabis market have made some strides that are advantageous for the shift inequity issue facing the current population.
Rapper and businessman Sean “Jay-Z” Carter launched his cannabis company called “Monogram” in late 2020. Considered a luxury brand, the company created a storytelling segment on their website called “High Tales” allowing many to share their experiences around the shift in cannabis culture from their first time, to the form and evolution of cannabis relationships and what it is like to navigate in a world of legal cannabis. This kind of initiative allows blacks and other impacted minorities to see a new world and positively shift the conversation around business development and brand integration. A need for a continued shift in cannabis culture, championing recreational and medicinal use as well as the spectrum of industrial use-cases will continue to normalize the 360 views for all.
Although small, this impact helps bridge the gap of mistrust from those in communities who might feel unheard and unseen in a new cannabis world. It also further educates them on how their participation extends past cannabis consumption into first generational wealth-building and sustainable equity.
Reform and rebuild:
Finding space for those directly affected by the laws is a highly impactful and necessary trigger to pull communities in. Former NBA player Al Harrington founded “Viola Extracts” in Los Angeles. The cannabis entrepreneur and advocate announced in 2020, the creation of “Viola Cares”, a social-equity initiative as a means to reinvest in marginalized communities. The first initiative to take place has been a partnership with “Root & Rebound” an organization dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated people reenter society. Together, the organizations are working on a toolkit to help those incarcerated on cannabis-related charges expunge their records and find their place in the industry.
There is a multitude of heavy capital requirements, restrictions on licensing for drug-felons, and other factors that have limited opportunities for people of color and other disadvantaged minorities from succeeding in a new legal cannabis market. This had led to one – in – five cannabis companies being owned by minorities. Rapper and businessman Method Man, although part of the many celebrity names to join the cannabis industry, decided to take a different approach. Method Man launched his cannabis brand “Tica”l, named after his 1992 hip hop album, made sure his line of products are only being sold at “black-owned and socially-conscious dispensaries”. This kind of reinvestment is a vital part of moving social equity for minority communities within the cannabis industry forward.
Living in the real era of the emergence of flower power requires individuals with the platforms and reach to advocate fair policy, changes in nonviolent cannabis offenses including re-assessment of all previous cases, and opportunities for entry for previously convicted offenders. Additionally, investment from individuals that reflect the disparity in the current gold rush of cannabis is responsible for advancing the narrative surrounding the capital, leadership development, and growth acceleration for blacks and additional minorities throughout the diaspora.
These minor shifts can affect our current cannabis culture in major ways. Let’s see what our favorite celebrities will do next.
Why Should We Care If Pot Offenders Get Released From Prison?
Once upon a time, getting busted by the police with a bit of pot in your pocket in Anywhere, USA, was going to set off a chain reaction that, to the unknowing passerby, the unaware, might appear as though somebody was murdered. Officers would have the pothead perp face down on the sidewalk, cuffed up tight, eventually hauling his ass down to the local precinct where the real reaming would begin. That’s where the offender would inevitably be charged for their felonious actions, booked into jail, and stuck inside a cell until going before a judge to answer for their green indiscretions. From there, if convicted — and they surely would be — the offender might find themself carted off to state or federal prison to live out the next several years with the real ruffians of uncivil society. Life as that poor bastard had come to know it was officially over.
Fast forward a few decades, and times have changed. At least to some degree. More than half the United States has some sort of pot law on the books that either allows Americans to consume cannabis for medicinal purposes or gives that right to adults 21 and over. The real upside is that fewer people are getting slammed face down on the pavement and carted off to the pokey for having an appreciation for the herb. All is right in the world. Well, not so fast, maverick!
Prohibition is still alive and well in the so-called Land of the Free. Although there is a political tug of war in Congress with respect to legalizing the leaf at the national level, the federal government still hasn’t budged on bud. Cross Uncle Sam by messing with cannabis — a product that is enjoyed legally by millions of people all over the country — and it could spell serious trouble. Meanwhile, many states are still sticking it to the average stoner, and some of them big time. They are handing down criminal charges for petty possession, drug classes, hefty fines, and even jail time.
It is a little-known fact that tens of thousands of people are still sitting behind bars because of cannabis-related offenses. Jonathan Wall, currently incarcerated at the Chesapeake Detention Facility, a super-maximum jail in Baltimore, Maryland, is one of them. The 27-year-old aspiring cannabis entrepreneur is presently facing 15-years to life for conspiring to traffic pot from California to Maryland. His attorney, Jason Flores-Williams, argues that Uncle Sam’s aggressive pursuit of this young man is nothing short of lunacy. “Our government is locking people in cages for pot while it’s legal to go down to the local strip mall, buy an assault rifle and a fifth of whiskey,” he told High Times. Flores-Williams went on to say: “Corporations around the country are generating billions from the same activity for which my client is facing life in prison.”
Some of the most vocal naysayers of the nug — a title that requires little more than a disconnect from progress and reality — are of the opinion that, despite the herb’s legality in parts of the country, people who are incarcerated for pot must be the dregs of the doob, the scoundrels of a stoned nation: dealers, drug traffickers and violent, weapon-wielding maniacs. Why should they care if any of these people rot in prison? “I don’t want a bunch of saggy-pants thugs in the streets selling weed or anything else to my kids,” Joseph, a 47-year-old factory worker from Lafayette, Indiana, told us. “There are laws in this country for a reason. Some liberal states might not care about addiction and crime, but some of us still do. This country has enough problems.”
There is an apparent communication breakdown between discussing the compassionate release of pot offenders and some slick moves to unleash savage beasts back into productive society. Contrary to what people like Joseph might think, turning loose gun-toting felons who eat young children for breakfast isn’t what’s happening, nor is it the intention of the cannabis movement.
Mariah Daly, a legal fellow at the Last Prisoner Project (LPP), an organization vying for the release of pot offenders nationwide, told High Times that their constituents — the incarcerated men and women they step in to help see the light of day once again — must meet a specific set of criterion to receive the LPP’s assistance. Firstly, the primary offense must be cannabis related. No other illicit substances can be involved in the underlying violation. Next, and perhaps most importantly, the incarcerated individual must be a non-violent offender and not have been convicted of any sex crimes. Nobody is trying to ensure that violent criminals are set free to run amok.
Yes, the people incarcerated for cannabis indeed broke the law. It is important to consider, however, that the punishment didn’t fit the crime.
“Many of our constituents were sentenced to life, de facto life, or 20+ years for their cannabis offense,” Daly said. “No other drugs were involved in the underlying offenses and these men have zero history of violence/sex offenses over the course of their lifetime. Even if you disagree regarding whether cannabis offenders should be incarcerated at all (like say, in convictions “more serious than simple possession”), cannabis offenders who have received excessive sentences should be released.”
The majority of the average, run-of-the-mill cannabis advocates we spoke to about it, some of which are in just as much jeopardy of similar legal consequences, wholeheartedly agree. They contend that society should care just as much about releasing non-violent pot offenders as it does crushing statues of the confederates and uncovering backasswards governmental deceptions like the War on Drugs. At the very least, they should show more interest in freeing discarded offenders than Keeping up with the Kardashians and the release of the McRib. Without correcting the errors of the past, some argue, the country doesn’t stand a chance of experiencing real growth. “Freeing cannabis prisoners is a correction long overdue,” one advocate said.
But why should anyone really care if a bunch of pot prisoners ever get out? Aside from it being a crime in and of itself to simply lock people up for going against the grain of laws that we now know were created out of reefer madness, all the while doing it in a manner that ensured no vile acts were committed against their fellow man, we should — every single one of us — appreciate the volatility of freedom. All it takes is one bad day, and a similar fate could be bestowed upon us.
“Everyone should care about restorative justice in this area because cannabis should never have been illegal in the first place, and because it could easily be anyone in the wrong circumstances,” Morgan Fox, political director of the national cannabis advocacy group NORML told High Times.
“Given the lifelong negative effects and collateral consequences of simply having a criminal record, let alone spending time behind bars, it makes no sense to continue to punish people for federal violations for behavior that is no longer illegal,” he added. “Not only do these direct and collateral effects hinder people from becoming productive, independent members of society and harm their families and communities, but the costs associated with punishing them are an unnecessary drain on the taxpayer.”
The toll of this drain is significant.
According to the latest Federal Register’s Annual Determination of Average Cost of Incarceration (COIF), the average annual COIF for a federal inmate in a federal facility in Fiscal Year 2020 was $39,158 ($120.59 per day). The average annual COIF for a federal inmate in a Residential Reentry Center for FY 2020 was $35,663 ($97.44 per day). Considering roughly 40,000 people are still in cages for non-violent pot offenses, the price tag for keeping them is sheer lunacy.
It is worth noting that arrests for federal cannabis crimes have gone down since 2019. There were fewer than 1,000 people slapped with federal pot charges in 2021. Still, hundreds of thousands are arrested for weed every year, most of which (89%) are for simple possession.
Now, state and federal prisons are not full of harmless pot users who have been stripped from their families forever over a measly joint. That much is true. Still, thousands of these low-end offenders continue to be put through the wringers of the criminal justice system every year, taking it on the chin royally even when the likelihood of spending a day in prison is slim to none.
Most first-time pot offenders are tossed into the system and forced to swallow their fair share of probationary requirements — they can’t smoke weed, can’t be around people who do, can’t leave the state, must attend drug and alcohol classes, pay elaborate fines and court costs, submit to random drug testing, etc. Failure to comply with any of these probationary terms, and, well, there’s a jail cell waiting for them. The punishment for pot possession only gets stiffer with subsequent offenses. In some cases, three-strike rules have put non-violent pot offenders like Missouri’s Jeff Mizanskey in prison for life. In fact, Mizanskey, who had his life sentence commuted in late 2015 by then-Governor Jay Nixon after serving more than two decades behind bars for pot possession, would still be a resident of the Jefferson City Correctional Center today if not for the tireless efforts of lawmakers and cannabis advocacy groups fighting for his release.
A heck of a lot of people like Mr. Mizanskey remain in prison for a plant that’s poised to become one of the most prominent economy boosters this country has witnessed since booze. Some of the latest predictions show the national pot market will be worth nearly $40 billion once Uncle Sam admits to losing the drug war and lets the herb go legal. It means millions of new jobs and a substantial economic boost for everyone from contractors to independent businesses.
Furthermore, most reasonable citizens would agree that the US government’s attitude and behavior toward cannabis offenders is wrong. And according to Stephen Post, campaign strategist for the LPP, the issue hits close to home for many American families. “Given that over a third of United States residents have experienced the trauma of having an immediate family member who has been to jail or prison, I think more people already care about this issue than is realized,” he told us.
For those who don’t give two flying squirts about pot offenders, perhaps it is time to consider the moral argument.
“Communities in the United States need to care about the release of those still imprisoned for cannabis if we are ever going to achieve our nation’s democratic ideal that ‘all men are created equal,’” Post added. “The enforcement of cannabis criminalization is one of this nation’s biggest hypocrisies as tens of thousands remain behind bars, while others are privileged to generate millions of dollars.”
Although progress on Capitol Hill has been slow concerning changing the nation’s weed laws, there is a push, one with bipartisan support, to not only legalize the green at the national level but in a way that also allows for the release of those incarcerated for a variety of cannabis offenses. The Marijuana Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act, which was just approved by the US House of Representatives and now advances to the Senate for consideration, would allow more states to open cannabis markets to adults 21 and older. It would also ensure that those caught up in the gears of cannabis enforcement over the years are not forgotten. This policy change would come with strict criteria before a pot offender finds a reprieve.
“The MORE Act explicitly limits the charges that are eligible for expungement or resentencing to non-violent cannabis convictions without ‘kingpin’ enhancements,” Fox asserts. “In cases of resentencing of a person who is currently incarcerated on multiple convictions, only the portions of the sentence directly tied to eligible cannabis convictions would be considered and affected, and a judicial panel would weigh all the factors in a person’s case before making final decisions about whether to shorten their sentence.”
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the MORE Act will go the distance any time soon. Even if the Senate were to give it the favorable attention it deserves — an improbable move considering the power struggle within the upper chamber — President Biden still isn’t willing to give his full support to the cannabis cause. For now, pot offenders all over the country will continue to sit in prison while others (maybe even you) could join them one day. So, if there is a message that needs to be conveyed, according to Flores-Williams, faith that our lawmakers are looking out for our best interests is an ignorant and dangerous position. The time for asking “why” we’re still jailing pot offenders is over. Americans should demand as much from the actions of their government as they do casual society. Where’s the cancel culture when we really need it? Because keeping otherwise innocent people behind bars for weed is the real cancellable offense.
“Try not to be blindly obedient,” Flores-Williams advises. “The law and justice are different things, and to blindly follow the law without any concern for justice reduces you to a non-citizen. “That said, I don’t know anyone who thinks that someone should be doing life in prison for pot in 2022. Except maybe a DEA agent whose job depends on it.”
The post Why Should We Care If Pot Offenders Get Released From Prison? appeared first on High Times.
Fueled by Cannabis: Pot-powered Athletes are Focusing on Recovery
Despite strict doping rules that can impact the trajectory of an athlete’s future, many former and current athletes stay active with the assistance of cannabinoids.
Natural processes in every human body, such as the runner’s high, mimic and overlap with the effects of cannabis. In terms of physical fitness, the science suggesting how cannabis can benefit recovery and mental health is overwhelming.
High Times reached out to some former professional athletes who are spreading awareness about the ways that cannabinoids can help aid in the recovery process after exercise and how these compounds can promote mental health when pharmaceuticals fail.
Former NFL running-back-turned-cannabis-advocate Ricky Williams is putting all of his energy into his cannabis-related business endeavors. Why? Because pointless cannabis restrictions in sports almost turned his career upside-down.
Williams won the coveted Heisman Trophy in 1998. He boasts 10,009 rushing yards, 68 rushing touchdowns, 2,606 receiving yards, and eight receiving touchdowns. But despite his accomplishments in the NFL, he was suspended five times during his 11 seasons with the league because of cannabis—and his celebrity notoriety as a toker didn’t help.
Williams missed out on two NFL seasons in his prime because of drug tests. Cannabis is stored in body fat and can linger in the body for weeks if not months. He launched Highsman, a cannabis lifestyle brand created to empower professional and everyday athletes, in October 2021. The company’s name is a play on the Heisman Trophy.
Most recently, Williams collaborated with the popular preroll company Jeeter to launch a new cannabis strain called “Sticky Ricky,” but it’s not the profits he’s after. According to an announcement, 100% of the proceeds from this collaboration with Jeeter are going to Athletes for CARE (A4C) to support mental health initiatives. A4C is a nonprofit organization founded by former athletes including Williams, with a mission to assist fellow athletes with everything from mental to physical health.
Williams revealed some of the reasons he turns to cannabis to help in mental and physical recovery. Lately, he’s been into yoga, meditation and healing, augmented with cannabis.
“Yoga is a major part of my physical routine, and when practicing, cannabis allows me to be more aware of how energy is moving in my body/mind system,” Williams said. “For example, it helps me to feel where there is flow and where there is congestion or a lack of flow.”
Like the “flow state” achieved by cross country runners and endurance sports figures, cannabis can provide a beneficial trance that brings balance.
“This connection allows me to focus my movement in ways that lead to efficiency and ease of movement, which has the added benefit of helping to prevent injuries,” Williams said.
Road racing cyclist and former Tour de France champion Floyd Landis found relief with the help of CBD and other cannabinoids. Among his many decorations, Landis originally won general classification—the main prize—at the 2006 Tour de France, in spite of suffering from osteonecrosis, a disease caused by reduced blood flow to the joints. He powered through and rebounded in stage 17 against all odds. His hip was later replaced with a metal-on-metal hip joint.
Landis then became one of the first to come clean about the widespread doping controversy involving the top endurance road racing cyclists in the world over a decade ago, losing some titles. He was subsequently portrayed by Academy Award-nominated actor Jesse Plemons in the 2015 film The Program.
“Back in 2006, I had a hip replacement as a result of injuries I sustained in bicycle racing a few years before that,” Landis told High Times, acknowledging that the benefit of medical cannabis wasn’t always accepted like it is today, especially in the world of pro sports. “Back then, it was known within small groups but it wasn’t, you know, talked about and widely debated as it is now. And so I was prescribed some narcotics along the way for dealing with pain after the surgery.”
Landis explained that opioids work well for pain—initially. But some people turn to them to forget about their problems, which can lead to full-blown addiction.
“Next thing, you know, it’s a problem in and of itself,” Landis said. “I’ve dealt with that for a couple years. And I kind of discovered marijuana a few years later, as a means to [aid] for whatever reason.”
Throughout his career, Landis didn’t smoke weed, as it wasn’t part of the endurance cycling culture. He wouldn’t discover its medical benefits until later on.
“[Cannabis] also comes with other psychological benefits,” he said. “It helps with anxiety. It helps with the things that probably people are trying to treat with narcotics.”
Organizations such as the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) are slowly changing the tune on CBD, which is allowed, and expanding the limits for THC.
“Up until recently, at least, they haven’t considered testing for CBD metabolites and I don’t think they ever will,” Landis said of WADA. “They are focused on THC. And even that’s become deregulated quite a bit.”
Landis also acknowledged the similarities between the runner’s high and cannabis. The phenomenon describes the euphoria caused after a moderate exercise of 20 minutes or more. It is a natural mechanism in our bodies involving the endocannabinoid system, a cell signaling system which promotes balance when it comes to things like motivation and appetite. The experience of the runner’s high is the body feeling the rush of a cannabinoid produced internally as opposed to the cannabinoids produced in the cannabis plant.
“I think a lot of what your body naturally produces, through exercise, are very similar to some of these cannabinoids,” Landis said.“ And so people often augment that with either marijuana or hemp products to kind of enhance the feeling that they get in, you know, at the end of a long run or that for hours afterwards.”
Landis explained that the endurance events he is used to are a bit more extreme, so the runner’s high is accompanied with the shock of a strenuous workout. Endurance athletes are constantly balancing their careers with the effects of exertion from long distances such as inflammation or pain and swelling in the tendons.
Throughout Landis’ career, he attracted a few familiar fans. Robin Williams was among the top followers of endurance cycling and Landis. He even gave Landis a nickname that stuck—“Mofo of the Mountain.”
“He was great,” Landis said. “He got into being a cycling fan, riding his bike a bit, just trying to stay healthy back in, during the time when Lance Armstrong [was riding]. And so he would come, you know, he would come to the Tour de France and join us on the bus after a given stage and tell jokes. And I always kind of envied him. He seemed like he was just naturally high all the time.”
Leadville, Colorado is home to some big endurance sports, such as the Leadville 100, running races, mountain bike races, and so on. In 2018, Landis launched his CBD company Floyd’s of Leadville and is currently debuting a product with CBN, CBG, THC, and CBD.
“We’re always constantly trying to refine which combinations of cannabinoids will do what,” he said.
Josiah Hesse, author of the book Runner’s High: How a Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes Is Changing the Science of Sports, is among the top advocates of cannabis-propelled athleticism. Last September, Hesse spoke to ABC News correspondent Linsey Davis to discuss his book and explain how the runner’s high is linked to the high from cannabis—exposing the phenomenon to a much bigger audience.
“The two—neurologically speaking—are nearly identical,” Hesse told High Times. “What goes on in the brain, when we have the natural runner’s high, as mentioned, is an endogenous cannabinoid. Most researchers point to anandamide, which comes from the Sanskrit word for bliss.”
Hesse explained that humans have engaged with the high associated with an endocannabinoid boost for millions of years. The body’s production of endogenous, or internal cannabinoids like anandamide, reduce pain and increase things like joy and the appreciation of nature. We also get those effects from phytocannabinoids in cannabis. As explained in Hesse’s book, neurologists have data to suggest that THC increases the production of anandamide, so it is believed to get you to the runner’s high more quickly and efficiently.
“The percentage of people who are exercising—who knows what percentage of them enjoy it,” Hesse said. “Throughout the process of promoting this book effort, so many people talked about how much they hate exercise, but that they do it anyway. So it’s an even smaller fraction who are doing it as a playful, enjoyable recreational activity. So what cannabis can do is induce that natural evolutionary reward system for enjoying exercise quicker and faster.”
Research indicates that you need to get over a certain hump to achieve the runner’s high.
“It’s typically running at around 70% heart rate for 20 to 30 minutes,” Hesse said. “Most people don’t get there—they either go too fast or they go too slow and never get there. Either way, most people hate getting to that point.”
Hesse said a moderate dose of cannabis can be a way for people to achieve that euphoria faster and more efficiently. He said that he personally never had any interest in sports, and very little interest in exercise—that is, until he started prepping with cannabis edibles.
In sports organizations like the NBA, cannabis use is everywhere. Former Chicago Bulls No. 2 pick Jay Williams told Jade Sciponi of FoxBusiness in 2016 that 75 to 80% of NBA players smoke cannabis.
“I found out that [cannabis use in sports] is so popular, yet so under-reported,” Hesse said. “I couldn’t ignore it as a journalist.”
The World Anti-Doping Agency removed CBD from the list of banned substances in 2018 and raised the threshold of THC up to 120 nanograms, which allows athletes to utilize cannabis during training and then stop a week or two before competition. THC metabolites are typically out of the system by then, but the Mayo Clinic cites that they can be detected for as long as 46 days after consumption.
“I don’t think it qualifies as a performance-enhancing drug in the way that we think we understand that term, which is in relation to competition,” Hesse said.
The purpose of strict doping rules is to abate the use of banned substances like steroids, which can make competitive situations unfair.
“That’s not going to happen with cannabis. It’s not going to make your muscles stronger. It’s not going to make your blood more efficient,” Hesse said.
Entrepreneur, founder, advocate, and former NFL star Eben Britton’s book, The Eben Flow, is a compendium of experiences and insights exploring his transformation from pro sports to his recent focus on wellness. It’s a fascinating read incorporating various tracts of health practices from all corners of the world and a testament to Britton’s devotion to health and wellbeing.
Trauma and the NFL are synonymous, given the brutal nature of the sport. After six seasons of professional football, four years with the Jacksonville Jaguars followed by two with the Chicago Bears, Britton was “physically, mentally, and emotionally destroyed.”
Fortunately, the alternative ways cannabis can help played a major part in his mental and physical recovery.
“My relationship with cannabis has evolved greatly over the last few years,” Britton told High Times. “While it is still an integral part of my daily routine I use it in a much different capacity today compared to how I used it during my career.”
Britton is also currently focused on practices involving yoga, as well as breathing and meditation. Ayurvedic medicine is also part of the new ways Britton is incorporating alternative therapies.
“In Ayurveda, cannabis is known as a ‘trauma reducer’ and it was exactly this during my NFL career,” Britton said. “When I was taking on significant physical damage, as well as emotional and mental stress, cannabis was my saving grace. Something I could come home to that would quell my rattled nervous system, decompress my mental and physical body, allowing me to rest and recover.”
Britton admitted in 2016 that he consumed weed before three NFL games he played in. Finding alternatives to prescription drugs is a big part of the message he wants to convey in his book.
“Over the last five years, as I have healed many of the wounds that plagued me during my career, cannabis has taken on a much different role,” Britton said. “I primarily use CBD for mental clarity and inflammation, consuming much less THC than I ever have, saving my whole-plant cannabis consumption for after a sunset to prepare me for a restful night of sleep.”
After retiring from professional sports, Britton co-hosted over 50 episodes of the Hotboxin’ with Mike Tyson podcast before producing and hosting his own podcast, The Eben Flow. He also co-founded the community-based athlete advocacy association Athletes for CARE, and sits on the advisory board of Wake Network, a psilocybin research and development company. Last year, Britton joined the Revenant MJ cannabis brand in California founded by NFL brethren Kyle Turley and Jim McMahol, as partner and spokesperson.
The post Fueled by Cannabis: Pot-powered Athletes are Focusing on Recovery appeared first on High Times.
“Essentially We’re Looking to Legalize Social Growing Clubs’ says Lidell’s lawyer as THC High Court Date Now Confirmed for 6 June
THC case has implications for all PCC’s
The Haze Club (THC) director Neil Liddell’s application to have private cannabis clubs (PCC’s) declared officially legal has been set down for the Cape High Court for 6 June 2022. This was confirmed to Cannabiz Africa by his lawyer Andrew MacPherson of Ward Brink Attorneys on 4 May 2022, who said he was hoping for resolution after the case had been dragging on for months.
“Our argument is that the way the THC private cannabis club model was implemented did not break any law and the criminal case should be dropped. That would create a precedent that the THC model was legal.” He said If the court went in this direction it would immediately bring legal clarity to the other 40 or so allegedly legal PCC’s believed to be operating in the country. He said that if the court found against the application, the Constitutional Court was the next option to “cure a constitutional defect in the law”.
Danger that PCC’s could be stuck in legal grey zone for years
MacPherson said there was a danger that the legal status of PCC’s could remain in a grey zone for years until such time as new over-arching cannabis legislation was introduced as envisaged in the National Cannabis Master Plan (NCMP). Liddell understands how painfully slow the law crawls. has It has already been almost 18 months and four postponed court dates since Liddell was charged for dealing in cannabis even though he claims that the grow op for his THC PCC was completely compliant with all existing laws. And while his life has been put on hold, with the threat of jail time hanging over his head, PCC’s elsewhere in the country have been flourishing, almost all with the clearance of the local police station commander.
Allowing only people with access to private property to legally grow cannabis is discriminatory
“Essentially we’re looking to legalize social growing clubs where people can grow on behalf of other people who can’t. Prince 3 (The 2018 Constitutional Court ruling that consuming cannabis in private was not against the Constitution) deals with the general law of application. If a law doesn’t apply equally to all people then it’s discriminatory. Allowing only people with access to private property to be able to legally grow cannabis discriminates against people who have no such access.
“The social growing club is modelled on the community garden concept, where for instance in rural villages some members of the community specialize in growing vegetables on behalf of the wider group. The same should apply to cannabis. Not everyone can grow or is in a position to grow. What about the homeless and the handicapped? Many professionals, such as doctors working double shifts, would love to grow their own cannabis but don’t have the time and not everyone has the expertise. It makes sense for PCC’s to legally fulfill that gap by growing cannabis in a regulated way for a closed group of members and a binding constitution.
No place for PCC’s in new Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill
Senior State Law Advisor Sarel Robbertze sees no place for private cannabis clubs in the amended Cannabis for Private Purposes Bill. He told Parliament’s Justice and Correctional Services Portfolio Committee on 23 November 2021, that he had considered incorporating the model into the Bill but decided against it – because it would be too burdensome on the state to police!
He said: “We acknowledge that in certain jurisdictions private cannabis clubs are allowed in respect of the private use of cannabis. We did consider that but it would require substantial regulatory oversight, inspection of facilities and compliance over strains. It is our submission that it is unpractical in the South African situation to provide for cannabis clubs.”
He said the same would apply to community grow-ops. These would be too complicated to police and could be subject to multiple offences and duplicate reporting. “It therefore cannot be accommodated” and were not considered options.
“What if you have one man with four kilograms who says he’s growing on behalf of three others? This will create problems for law enforcement.
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