It’s the middle of a cold winter night. You’re tightly tucked into bed, dreaming or lost in space and time. Not a worry in the world.
BAM! Dogs barking, flashlights, cops, big guns, sniffer dogs…. shouting, lots of shouting. You can’t tell left from right and there’s a big cop with a big gun demanding to know where your stash is, “Where are the drugs!”
This is a reality we all face. We are criminals. Not because it makes sense, but because the law says so. Not a substantiated logical law, just one that’s there. A reality that affects us all, whatever your reason for sparking up, the law sees you as a bad guy. A reality Jules and Myrtle have recently had to face.
Having the cops raid the house, while they are dazed and confused, clad in pyjamas and trying to explain that “There is no lab”, “It doesn’t grow in winter”. Being unceremoniously dragged to the Muldersdrift police station and then not really knowing what to make of it all. What to do next?
Sitting down with Jules and Myrtle at their place, the Jazzfarm in Lanseria, on a sunny Saturday afternoon leaves me throwing the occasional look over my shoulder for a cop at the gate. Fortunately the cops haven’t been hanging around since the bust. You would in fact think that it’s just another day for them. But it’s not. Jules and Myrtle have made a valiant stand and are taking the criminalization of dagga to the constitutional court, head on; the first ever legal challenge for the re-legalization of Cannabis in South Africa. There case has already set new precedents with regards to being prosecuted for the possession of dagga and the prosecution of many is now standing by to see what direction their case takes. There is very little that I can say about them that they haven’t already been able to articulate for themselves. So I’ll quote a bit from their website:
THE REASONS WE WANT THIS MATTER TO BE HEARD IN THE CONSTITUTIONAL COURT:
- The South African legal system is sufficiently corrupt that we had the option to pay a large sum of money for our case to “disappear”. After our experience at the hands of the police we are not prepared to just pay our way out of this. Corrupt behaviour will ensure that the police will be breaking down our gate sometime in the future.
- We wish to demonstrate the ignorance at all levels of law enforcement when it comes to the prohibition of Dagga.
- We will provide evidence that the laws prohibiting the use of Dagga in South Africa have their origins in the racist colonial laws of the early 20th century. These laws are also dictated by international statutes based on propaganda in the United States and have no bearing on our local culture.
- The enforcement of the prohibition of Dagga costs the South African taxpayer millions every year. These resources could be utilised in a more efficient manner & the re-legalisation of dagga would pave the way for the development of the hemp (which is also the Dagga plant) industry, which would create jobs in the agriculture, bio fuel, textile & medical industries.
- Our Human Rights have been violated by a law that is unjust & irrational, not supported by any empirical evidence & outdated. The punishment far outweighs the “crime”. Smoking Dagga is a “victimless crime” and should not be seen as a crime at all.
- We reserve the right to smoke whatever we want in the privacy of our own property, with whom we wish. We are not harming anybody & no government has the right to treat us, the tax payers, like criminals.
- The prohibition of Dagga leads to organised crime. This is fact and is supported by extensive research, both locally & internationally. Because the makers of the law have been informed by propaganda that is blatantly incorrect, organised crime surrounding the growing & marketing of Dagga is a major problem in South Africa.
- We reserve the right to self medicate. We are both very healthy individuals and we believe that our daily use of Dagga contributes to our healthy immune systems. Dagga has been used as a medication for thousands of years.
- We both contribute in significant ways to the society around us and, far from impairing our abilities, we believe that our use of Dagga contributes to this being so.
- We propose that the law prohibiting the use of Dagga in South Africa is based on propaganda and hearsay, based on protecting the industries that benefit from its prohibition and not based on protecting its citizens.
- In short, the prohibition of Dagga is unscientific, irrational & wrong.
What I found most striking is that Jules and Myrtle are pretty regular folk, just like you and I. Living their lives as individuals while being productive and constructive members of society. If anything, they are breaking away from the “Stoner” image and presenting the courts with two healthy middle aged people who have not gone mad or lost themselves to dagga.
Talking about the night that they were bust echoes of something you would expect to hear about for the arrest of a murderer who is armed to the teeth, just fresh of a killing spree. Surprisingly, there is no talk of “Pigs”, “Fuzz” or “F@cken bastards”. As Jules puts it “They we just doing their jobs”. Who then are the actual bad guys here? The cops for doing their job? Jules and Myrtle for being persecuted based on outdated and racist laws? Or is it really just a vicious cycle where there are no good guys or bad guys, just a broken system that needs to be fixed. Not that it ever worked.
Beneath their casual surface, there is a fire and passion to freeing this wonderful herb for all. Myrtle injects a firm “It should be available to everyone”, as the conversation treads into the “who gets access and who doesn’t” territory.
The conversation steers back to the court case. I can’t help but ask if they have received a flurry of hate mail or has there been much resistance from the court system? A simple answer of “What resistance” from Jules is not what I expect. Is this going to be a cakewalk for them?
Sadly, it won’t be. They have stood up for the rights of millions of innocent South Africans (including you and I) and as such, the court case may cost just that. The minimum bar is set at a “million rand” so far. I spend lots of time working with attorneys and have no doubt that this is what the cost of our freedom may be. They have put their very futures on the line.
Reflecting back on what lead the cops to their door, they told me about “Someone we know had taken the easy root when being bust and offered us up to the cops”. You would think that being ratted out and having their lives turned upside down should leave deep bitter feelings toward the ratter. This couldn’t be further from the truth. If anything Jules and Myrtle have embraced the outcome of being bust. Seeing it for the opportunity it is and not begrudging the snitch in the slightest. Something that many, including myself, would probably not be able to do.
Personally, I am glad that Jules and Myrtle have shown the fibre to stand up and speak out against the oppression of not just themselves, but also for the millions of other innocent South Africans out there who are being tarred with the same brush. That same brush that brands us all as criminals, irrespective of our reasons or motives for smoking dagga. The only victims in this victimless “crime” are us.
They have caught the eye and the imagination of the cannabis community and various pillars of the community are engaging. Hopefully to represent a united front for what we all want… Access to a plant that has the potential to change the world for the better.
Sitting amongst the two long terms tokers, I get the feeling that this is the beginning of the end for dagga prohibition. For decades the truth has been obvious. “There is no Reefer Madness, there never was”.
In summary, they believe that dagga should be available to all with the opportunity for us to make the most of all its beneficial aspects, from rope to dope.
They are South Africans, fighting against the war on dagga in a South African context. So the next time you need to score with one eye over your shoulder checking for cops; spare a thought for The Dagga Couple and maybe buy once less bankie because you’re going send some cash their way, so that their stash jar doesn’t run dry. They could really use your support to take this the distance. I’ve set up my debit order to help pay towards the legal costs of what is also my fight, and will one day look back on it as my contribution to a cause that is very close to my heart. Besides, I’m tired of nearly sh1tting myself at road blocks!
Oh yeah, Jules and Myrtles favourite strain? Unanimously it’s “Super Congo”!
Listen to their radio interview on Jacaranda below: