On Friday we were devastated to learn the news of the death of South African cannabis activist Julian Stobbs.
One half of the popularly known “Dagga Couple", Julian and his wife Myrtle are well known for tirelessly challenging the South African government and leading the charge for legalisation since 2010, when they had their home raided by police.
In their own words: “We had a very heavy handed visit from the South African Police Service who, acting on a tip off, raided our property in search of a 'drug lab'. What they found was a quiet, middle aged couple in their pyjamas and a quantity of marijuana.
We were arrested after a five hour ordeal in our kitchen, jailed, and because we had more than 115g of the substance, were charged with dealing in marijuana.”
Rather than pleading guilty, the couple turned the case on its head by suing seven sectors of government that maintained and enforced the policy of cannabis prohibition.
This resulted in what was described as the Trial of the Plant in 2017, currently postponed until 2021 “after South African legislature has had a chance to amend the offending laws.”
In the meantime the couple has become well loved national icons in the legalisation movement, and dedicated social activism lobbyists who have set up their own NPO, Fields of Green for All.
This organisation provides legal assistance for anyone arrested on cannabis charges, giving them the resources to fight their case, refuse to admit guilt and insist that they are not criminals.
Fields of Green For All argues that the prohibition of marijuana is irrational and unscientific, based on outdated colonial racism, not in sync with the times or challenges we face and, ultimately, wrong.
The couple were also instrumental in securing the success of the landmark September 2018 ruling decriminalising cannabis use and possession in private spaces.
Julian will be remembered as a hero for the enormous impact that his passion for the plant and commitment to the cause has made, leaving behind an indelible mark on the local cannabis community.
We are forever indebted to him for the great strides that have been made in the legalisation movement over the past decade, as well as any future advancements that will made in his legacy