‘Canabrities’ pair continue their weed war
THEY have been called “canabrities” looking to get famous and a bunch of drug addicts trying to get off their drug charges, but Myrtle Clarke and partner Julian Stobbs are determined to keep fighting for the legalisation of dagga.
The “dagga couple” as they have been nicknamed, appeared briefly in the high court in Pretoria yesterday to kickstart their 19-day trial calling for the legalisation of cannabis.
The couple, through their organisation Field of Green For All, were expected to bring nine experts to testify on topics concerning cannabis usage, its healing powers, cultural, historical, economic and traditional aspects.
But the matter was postponed as there was a dispute on court proceedings being streamed live.
Clarke said they had put in an application six weeks prior to the trial for the broadcasting of proceedings but had had to make a number of concessions, one being that no evening highlights would be made, but she said the live stream order was granted on Friday.
Yesterday, however, despite the green light for the stream going ahead, the defence requested Judge Natvarlal Ranchod to provide reasons in writing before the matter could proceed.
“The judge had to go back and write his reasons for granting the live stream and that was only after 12. So it was decided that the matter be postponed to allow for a full day,” she said.
As they prepared to start the trial inside, members of Umphakathi Okhathazekile (Concerned Young People of South Africa) protested outside, holding up placards that read “Say no to dagga” and “dagga kills”.
They had come from different provinces and handed out pamphlets which called on citizens to say no to the legalisation of cannabis as they believed it was a destroyer of lives.
But Clarke said they were not disheartened by the crowds gathered outside.
“We don’t take it personally. If anything, we would be worried if they weren’t demonstrating. This is the hallmark of a functioning democratic process.”
Unlike Gareth Prince’s foiled challenge in 2002 in the Western Cape High Court, Clarke said they had received immense support from the cannabis community.
Prince sought exemption from the law based on his Rastafarian religion.
“We never started on this seven-year journey looking to be famous. We understand that it comes with the territory of being in the media spotlight,” said Clarke.
The couple were thrust into the steering chair for the legalisation of weed after they were arrested for being in possession of more than 115g of dagga when the SAPS raided their home in August 2010.
The police were allegedly acting on a tip-off of a “drug lab” being on the couple’s property.
Western Cape High Court Judge Dennis Davis earlier this year declared that legislation banning the use of the plant by adults in the privacy of their own homes was invalid.
He subsequently gave Parliament 24 months to change the laws which he regarded as inconsistent with the constitutional right to privacy.
The matter is set to continue today.
LEAF IT ALONE: People protest outside the high court in Pretoria yesterday against the legalisation of dagga.
SMOKE FOLKS: Myrtle Clark and Julian Stobbs outside court.