Fields of Green for ALL speaks in parliament for the first time!

Fields of Green for ALL is very proud to have had the opportunity to present civil society’s viewpoint on the legal regulation of Cannabis in the South African parliament for the first time on Friday 29 November 2019. We see this as a brief but significant opportunity to start the converstaion with the honourable members of our government.

About 2 weeks ago we heard on the civil society grapevine that the Standing Committee on Appropriations was accepting submissions from the public on the 2019 Adjustments and Appropriations Bill and the 2019 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. 

This is the committee that appropriates money from  government departments who have not spent all the money that was allocated to them in the current financial year. We always seize the moment so we put together a submission and sent it in. Our main point is that, if there is excess budget, it should be spent on Cannabis development. There are 22 government departments who HAVE to be involved in the legal regulation of Cannabis and not one of them has allocated anything to this very important issue.

READ FIELDS OF GREEN FOR ALL’S SUBMISSION HERE. Take note of the numbers in brackets on the table indicating the 22 government departments: That is how much money they returned, unspent, to the treasury.

There was only a week between sending in our submission and being chosen to present in person in Cape Town – with 24hrs notice! After the redeye flight parliament’s branded coffee and water was most welcome!

After listening to 6 other civil society groups, it was our turn and Myrtle took the committee through what we do and why it is absolutely essential that government start to fund legislative change in the Cannabis industry.

The presentation was 20 minutes and then the members of the committee each had 3 minutes for questions. After that, each organisation had 10 minutes to reply to the questions.

Fields of Green for ALL’s presentation was well received, despite the usual sniggering and giggling!

Myrtle was rather rudely interrupted by the honourable member for the DA, Mr D Joseph, as he accused us of “being the cause of all the lawlessness in this country!” Mr Joseph was called to order by the chairman, the honourable Mr S Buthelezi of the ANC.

At the start of question time, the honourable member for the DA, Mr D Ryder, asked whether we had brought any samples with us! More silly giggling before the honourable Ms ED Peters of the ANC had a little rant about how smoking is killing the people. This type of banter just shows us that, despite 9 years of education and awareness raising, the message has certainly NOT filtered into parliament. Sigh!

Despite the slight irritation at having to answer outdated prohibitionist questions, there were genuine expressions of interest and concern and we are grateful to have been given this opportunity.

A HUGE thank you to Bioleaf Technologies and the Afristar Foundation for sponsoring Myrtle’s (expensive) last minute flight to Cape Town! And thank you to the AWESOME Ricky Stone for supporting Myrtle on the day!

We will update everyone should we hear anything back from the committee. There is no turning back now on the road to evidence based Cannabis policies that pass constitutional muster. We don’t think the honourable members will forget the day that Dagga came to parliament!

 

GET YOUR COPY OF “CANNABIS IN SOUTH AFRICA – THE PEOPLE’S PLANT – A FULL SPECTRUM MANIFESTO FOR POLICY REFORM” – by clicking HERE

This article originally appeared on fieldsofgreenforall.co.za and was published with permission.

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