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TAKING ASTAND Author: Cornelia Scholtz Growing up in the Garden Route guaranteed my introduction to cannabis. From my early teens I was interested in plant medicines and holistic health care practices. This interest was sparked by my heart calling to have horses in my life and to care for them in the most natural and holistic manner.At the age of 10 my first pony came into my life. At 15, a stunning Anglo Arab bred in the Karoo joined my life and helped to shape and direct my journey into adulthood. Today I am a custodian of a herd of horses who live a life as close to that of horses in the wild as possible. I am a coach, teacher and facilitator of Natural Horsemanship, Natural Mindfulness and Equine Assisted Experiential Learning. The responsibility and commitment of caring for horses has come with many trials and tribulations. Every day is a learning experience, but one of the most important lessons I’ve learnt is the importance of having cannabis oil as one of the essentials in my equine first aid arsenal. It helps with the reduction of pain, for the improvement of digestion and appetite, the reduction of anxiety, the reduction of inflammation and there are even reports of it aiding horses with arthritis and laminitis.
However, cultural factors such as ethnic and social prejudices and the twentieth century prohibition laws that were introduced by colonial rulers, have made the procurement of this plant medicine difficult, dangerous and potentially a criminal offense. So when I heard about the cannabis mass gathering, I immediately knew I wanted to be part of it. This incredible plant has enriched and supported my journey so much.
The right to grow cannabis for personal use has been restored to us... however the government has failed to provide us with the legislation we need to proceed. I believe it is one of our “biocultural rights''. According to Terralingua, “Biocultural rights are the inherent collective rights of communities to steward their lands, waters, and resources according to their own worldviews and customary laws. After decades of struggles for individual and collective rights, it is vitally important to step back and wonder: What is the relationship between rights and responsibilities, and what respective roles do rights and responsibilities have in fostering a biocultural resurgence?" As a loyal South African, I am of the opinion that we can and should develop our own home grown cannabis industry. Many people need and desire safe access to good quality cannabis for themselves and for their animals. It is an artisanal crop to grow and not many people have the knowledge, time and experience necessary to be able to grow for themselves to the standard that is required. It therefore makes sense to insist on a legislative system/framework that is committed to supporting local farmers and promotes and employs the values of transparency, accountability, safety and ongoing education in order to create a healthy community.
Cannabis has played a role in most of South Africa’s cultures for hundreds of years and is a part of their pharmacopoeia and material culture. One cannot ignore the South African multicultural intertwining of cannabis and how its many cultures and practices are a part of everyday life.
This was obvious at the Mass Action gathering in front of the Union buildings in Pretoria on 17 September 2022. It was a true representation of our rainbow nation coming together with people from all walks of lives, from politicians to entrepreneurs, healers to community leaders, lawyers to families… There was a shared feeling of urgency. Many shared stories of frustration with the current system. Experiences of being bullied, targeted, threatened and ostracized. The people have had enough! Enough of the injustice, so many lives ruined and lost. Enough of the corruption. Enough of the empty promises by the government. Enough of poverty and unemployment. ENOUGH of any discrimination of any kind...
Now at a time when our country is confused, frustrated and in need of economic upliftment, the government needs to create cannabis legislation that is accessible and empowers ALL South African people. If structured correctly, it has the potential to place South African as world leader in the cannabis market. This legislation needs to consist of a dynamic framework which is inclusive of all communities and includes local entrepreneurs to create economic sustainability. The world is changing, and we need new ways of working together. New ways of sharing resources. Community based economies will result in the decentralisation and diversification of the economy and as communities become economically sustainable, the local economic stability will ensure increased employment opportunities for more people. This social interdependence will in turn provide a secure sense of identity and belonging, which in turn is a prerequisite for peaceful coexistence. Towards the end of the Mass Action gathering, there was laughter and a definite underlying feeling of hope and determination. I was personally left with a sense of awe .... the sheer bravery and authenticity of my fellow cannabis loving South Africans showing up and standing up for what we believe in. It reminded me of the quote by David W. Orr, “Our true destiny…is a world built from the bottom up by competent citizens living in solid communities, engaged in and by their places.”