Legalize It!by Matt Vend / 05.05.2014
An unlikely gathering of individuals congregated at Botha’s Park, opposite the Durban University of Technology on Berea Road down in Durbs this past Saturday to march for the legalization of the godly green. Ganja clouds wafted through the balmy autumn air as Durban’s cannabis culturists made their way to the City Hall. Amid chants of “Free the weed! Industrialize it! We are not criminals!”, regular city dwellers watched with amusement, some even feeling the irie spirit and joining in. The Durban protest was part of the annual global Cannabis March, which aims at highlighting the medicinal benefits of marijuana. It was just one of about 230 gatherings that took place globally on Saturday.
The march was lead by a 77-year-old man called Harry du Plessis, who believes cannabis oil has kept him alive, helping him survive cancer and other diseases. According to an article in the Independent on Saturday, Harry was diagnosed with prostate cancer and cancer of the liver, as well as being a diabetic and having high blood pressure. He was told by the western medical world that he didn’t have much time to live. But his family wouldn’t give up on him, as they searched for alternative solutions and found that cannabis oil could dramatically improve his quality of life and help fight the illnesses.
On Saturday, Harry walked in the midst of rastas and hippies, all puffing away as they strolled along Durban’s Dr Pixley KaSeme Street (West Street). The march was notably small, which was surprising considering the many green-loving people that live in Durban, which is disappointing since a crowd of about 2000 showed up for the march in Cape Town. Most Durban stoners were probably stacking bongs instead of making banners. Durban is famous for spliff and apathy after all!
The mighty law escorted the motley gathering with a combination of amusement and indifference, but eventually they stepped in when a fellow by the name of ‘Bobby Greenhash’ (Sheldon Cramer, 48) lit up an absurdly giant and conspicuous spliff – a spliff so large that it could have been entered into the Guinness World Records. Mr Greenhash was arrested and taken to CR Swart police station. He was released several hours later.
Greenhash will be attending court soon to face criminal charges for possession of dagga. “If it wasn’t for people standing up for what they believe in, we would still be in the apartheid era,” he later commented. “My only regret is that the fuckers got 15 grams of my finest Swazi! Haha! I will be appearing in Durban Magistrates court Number 10 tomorrow. I look forward to it!”
Ironically, Mr Greenhash is involved in legal compliance and maritime law, so he’s not your average stoner. Although he also dabbles in the production of cannabis oil, which he sells to Harry and others in need of a dose.
“As convener of the march I was disgusted with how the police were sent in like pit bulls,” raged Bow who has been fighting for the cause of legalizing marijuana for many years. She said that she hopes future protests will be free from police intervention.
Although the turnout wasn’t what organisers would have hoped, it did gather momentum as random people from the public joined in when the march neared the City Hall. “I hope that one year we can fill West Street with people marching for the legalization of marijuana,” lamented Bow.
Once outside the City Hall, Harry Du Preez handed over a cannabis manifesto to members of the Durban SAPS amongst flamboyant stoners, one even sporting a motorbike with fresh dagga plants attached to the handlebars, turning the whole gathering into something of an informal circus parade. The police officers refused to comment for fear of losing their jobs.
The infamous indigenous strain, Durban Poison, has made our coastal town famous among ganja smokers the world over. Hell, you can even buy Durban Poison from rude-boys in London Town or weedmen in New York. Now a small but resilient group of unlikely renegades feel it’s their democratic right to fight for Poison City’s ganja heritage. Is weed a harmless recreational pastime, a dangerous gateway drug, or the medical saviour of our modern era? Some countries are starting to legislate in favour of the herb, but in South Africa the cause of decriminalizing marijuana is only just beginning to gain traction.
Syd Kitchen was there in spirit.
Oh look, it’s weed o’clock.
A delivery for the mayor?
“We love ganja and Red Bull!” – new-age hippies with wings.
“Catch that hippie! That spliff is WAAAAY TOO BIG!” – Officer Gumede.
The revolutionary crew.
*Images © Matt Vend