Air still smokey around dagga-infused drinks

Cannabis cooldrinks are being sold in the city..

One of the side-effects of dagga is confusion and this same side-effect seems to have been caused by the recent Constitutional Court ruling on the drug.

On September 18, the Constitutional Court decriminalised the cultivation and ingestion of dagga for private use, which means that it is no longer illegal for people to grow their own weed, as long as they do not intend to sell it.

The ruling came about after Garreth Prince, a Rastafarian who was prevented from taking the bar exam because he had been arrested for dagga possession, brought an application to the High Court for the use of dagga for religious purposes.

The application failed, but Mr Prince then reapplied, saying parts of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act infringed on the constitutional right to privacy.

Police are yet to get clarity on the sale of dagga-infused products, but warn that the public use of cannabis is illegal.

The spokesperson for Cape Town Central police, Captain Ezra October, said the police are continuing to make arrests for possession and the sale of dagga and drugs across the board.

“There is a misconception that dagga has been legalised. This is not the case. It has been decriminalised for private use, but not for public use or the sale of it. You cannot make business from it.”

With regards to dagga-infused products, Captain October said the laws on this must still be clarified.

“We’ve got some guidelines, but we are waiting on legislation from Parliament to determine the way forward with this.”

At least one informal trader in the CBD has also started selling a cannabis cooldrink, which is imported from the Netherlands where marijuana is legal. The trader vouched for the legality of the drink, saying it also is sold at two major retailers. Nevertheless, he did not want the Atlantic Sun to publish his name.

Third-year UWC law student Andrea-Joy Jantjies has researched the ruling and its repercussions.

She said it is unclear if cannabis-infused products are legal or not.

“The judicial officer has stated during the judgement that ‘dealing in cannabis is a serious problem in this country and the prohibition of dealing in cannabis is a justifiable limitation on the right to privacy, and as such the court has no intention of decriminalizing dealing in cannabis’. Put differently, the selling and purchasing of cannabis is still a criminal offence in terms of South African law. As such a reading-in of provisions will be adopted until parliament ‘cures the defects’,” she said.

The courts will have to deal with dagga-related arrests “on a case by case basis” until parliament enacts the amended law, she said.

“It is important to note that countries all over the world are legalising cannabis and the market is slowly expanding to include a range of weed-infused products.

“Unfortunately for South Africa many issues pertaining to the cannabis are still uncertain,” Ms Jantjies said.

“Upon research we have found that there has been cannabis-infused drinks launched by a South African brewery in Durban after the Constitutional Court ruling. It is said that this cannabis-infused drink does not contain THC, the primary psycho-active ingredient in the substance. Since it is legal to grow for personal consumption, however, not commercial and therefore one of the founders (of the beverage) stated in an (media) article that the beer (their company produced) is made from imported strains, mostly from Eastern Europe and Germany.

“It is up to parliament to enact legislation regarding the extent of the legalisation of cannabis in South Africa and the judgement only provides for interim relief.

“Hence, there is no certain answer regarding this issue.”

One of the products the Atlantic Sun found contains “00.2% hemp extract” according to the labelling and no Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) but people who have drunk the beverage reported various effects.

A man on the street said: “It makes you feel irie”.

Another two sources also gave Atlantic Sun their reviews. One reported that the drink made her feel “lighter” and more at ease, similar to the effect of calming tablets.

Another reported a headache and a racing heart.

A few hours later, she said: “That was rather disappointing.”