If you have been arrested on a Cannabis related charge and require assistance, please refer to our legal assistance project, JoinTheQueue.
In 2010, Julian Stobbs and Myrtle Clarke, aka The Dagga Couple, were arrested and subsequently sued 7 South African Government Departments on charges of enacting unlawful laws. They are currently plaintiffs and supporters of multiple legal challenges taking place to legalise Cannabis in South Africa. Our primary court case is the Trial of the Plant that started in the Pretoria High Court on 31 July and was adjourned sine die on 18 August 2017. We are currently also focused on our Desired Outcomes as it is essential that we give our input when defining the legal regulation of Cannabis for ALL South Africans.
Various experts, both local and international, were set to testify at the trial under the four platforms listed below. Many witnesses and experts for the State, Doctors for Life and us were, however, not given the opportunity to present and defend their evidence as the Pretoria High Court trial was unable to be concluded in the given time. Live stream footage of the trial can be found on The Dagga Couple YouTube channel. On the advice of our legal team and with the permission of Judge Ledwaba who is managing our case, we have decided to postpone the continuation of the trial until after the legislature has had a chance to change the law. Should we not find the new laws and regulations to be for the benefit of ALL South Africans, we will certainly return to court after September 2021. The status of The Trial of the Plant remains “part heard.”
In March 2017 the Western Cape High Court unanimously ruled that Cannabis be legalised and that the South African government conclude applicable legislation within 2 years. Although the conditions of the court’s ruling were based on personal privacy rights and not particularly on the evidence that the plaintiffs submitted, it was a strong step in the right direction and a victory for personal freedom. The State however appealed this ruling which led to the matter reaching the highest court in the country. In November 2017 the Constitutional Court heard the case for Cannabis legalisation in South Africa. Fields of Green for ALL were a part of this historical hearing as we had been permitted to join the Western Cape High Court case as co-applicants and we had the opportunity to offer our views to the Constitutional Court on this pressing matter. You can view a timeline of the legal court cases here.
The Constitutional Court Judgement was handed down on 18 September 2018. Judge Zondo read out the judgement, which declared the prohibition of the personal use, possession and cultivation of Cannabis within PRIVATE spaces unconstitutional. It is important that we continue to not only fight for full legalisation, but that we also understand what the Desired Outcomes of this process should be. It would not be ideal for South Africa to experience a solution that severely limits Civil Society’s access to the plant or that practically maintains prohibition by creating unreasonable barriers to entry. We therefore encourage you to read our Desired Outcomes document and submit your comments.
While the attorneys at Schindlers have been briefed to represent The Dagga Couple, they have also been pivotal in shaping the nature of Fields of Green for ALL as an organisation. Their conviction is demonstrated by the fact that they are working for generously reduced fees and this has made a significant difference to the momentum of the process of Cannabis legalisation in South Africa.
BA LLB (Pretoria) Advocate Mahon is a member of the Johannesburg Bar who specialises in Commercial Litigation in South Africa. He is a member of the Association of Arbitrators of Southern Africa and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. With an impressive repertoire of challenging cases under his belt, Adv Mahon has taken on The Dagga Couple’s case with fervor. He has the legal insight required to map out the complex path towards Cannabis legalisation for responsible adult use.
BProc LLB (UPE) Advocate Carelse is a member of The Johannesburg bar who completed his pupilage under Advocate Mahon. After more than 15 years experience as an attorney, Advocate Carelse was admitted to the bar in 2013. Chris is a competent strategist capable of developing innovative litigation plans and activities designed to facilitate a competitive edge. With a Post Graduate Diploma in Labour Law Practice and a certificate in Leadership Development from the University of the Witwatersrand, he brings excellent litigation, communication and negotiation skills to The Dagga Couple’s case.
BA LLB (Rhodes); H Dip Co Law (Wits). Maurice is Managing Partner at Schindlers Attorneys and has been with the firm since 1997. Admitted as an attorney of the High Court of South Africa in 1998, he is a highly experienced and established litigation attorney with several reported judgments in both the Supreme Court of Appeal and Constitutional Court. He regularly provides guidance to boards of companies, both public and private, and he gives lectures on recent developments in commercial law. He heads a team of 15 professionals, insisting that each member is efficient, knowledgeable, focused and driven. From the first day at Schindlers’ office, Maurice inspired The Dagga Couple with his positive and succinct grasp of the matter at hand.
BA (Law) LLB (Rhodes) Paul-Michael is an Associate Attorney at Schindlers. Paul-Michael has the skill to deliver creative and honestly-evaluated solutions to complex legal problems and has experience with High Court appearances and witness interviews. He is becoming known for his opinion writing and research on a variety of legal topics. His writing became known to the Cannabis legalisation campaign when he was still an undergraduate and he has the type of legal mind that is a significant asset to Fields of Green for ALL. Paul-Michael steers the ship at Schindlers in all matters relating to The Dagga Couple case.
Kyle Telfer is currently a candidate attorney in the commercial litigation department. His interests lie in civil litigation, corporate restructure, negotiation, alternative dispute resolution and criminal law. Since joining the Dagga Couple case team, Kyle has done extensive work on our Expert Witness strategy.
Caitlin is currently a candidate attorney in the commercial law department. She has been involved in several High Court and Magistrate’s Court litigation matters, as well as intellectual property matters. She is particularly interested in gaining more knowledge and experience in the fields of intellectual property and entertainment law.
JASVIR MANGAL SEWNARAIN
JASVIR MANGAL SEWNARAIN
Jasvir attained a Bachelor of Medical Sciences at the University of Pretoria and completed his LLB at the University of Pretoria. His legal interests lie in medical and pharmaceutical law, competition law, alternative dispute resolution, corporate and commercial litigation and intellectual property law.
With Thanks To…
ADVOCATE ROBIN STRANSHAM-FORD
ADVOCATE ROBIN STRANSHAM-FORD
In April 2015 we bade farewell to our very special warrior when Robin left his long and painful battle with cancer behind and went forward into the light.
No stranger to difficult and high profile cases, Advocate Stransham-Ford became involved with The Dagga Couple case after it became evident that Cannabis Oil was an effective treatment for his cancer. With his extensive international experience, he steered the ship with characteristic insight and aplomb. Through his intimate knowledge and personal experience of this plant he made significant contributions to our legal strategy.
We continue our work with the memory of long conversations with Robin fresh in our hearts. Together with Dr Mario Oriani-Ambrosini, Adv Stransham-Ford will be remembered as a warrior for our beloved plant, right up to the end. He believed that “by doing what is right, we will overcome might.” He understood about usefulness and happiness in life, and ultimately courage and peace in death – this was a principle in which he firmly believed and this was evidenced by his final battle to enshrine one’s right to dignity in death in our Constitution and Common law.
Director at Boqwana Burns with extensive experience in environmental protection law, Ricky has been instrumental in the work to eradicate Cannabis crop spraying in South Africa and the legal challenge successfully live streaming of The Trial of The Plant. We look forward to continuing our work with him.
BComm (Stellenbosch) LLB (UJ) With experience in criminal law and commercial litigation, Kyle contributed a great deal of time and professional service to The Dagga Couple case while he was a Senior Associate at Schindlers. Kyle was instrumental in the process of Schindlers Attorneys taking on the case as a firm. He has left to pursue other options. His knowledge of technology and its integration into the legal process is crucial for a high profile case such as this. We look forward to continuing our work with him.
David is a Partner at Schindlers Attorneys and he supervised the process of registration for Fields of Green for ALL. He and his team made sure that all was in order for the formation of South Africa’s first Cannabis legalisation Non-Profit Company.
Simon is a personal friend of The Dagga Couple. He held their hands in the early days, attending meetings to make sure everything was understood and on track. After leaving the ProBono Organisation, Simon established Delaney Attorneys, a niche law firm specialising in legal and consulting services to civil society. Over the past 10 years Simon Delaney has been involved in cutting edge human rights law in South Africa. He is a committed, passionate and highly strategic legal activist and dedicated to supporting grassroots struggles. A true asset to our cause.
THE PRO BONO ORGANISATION
THE PRO BONO ORGANISATION
ProBono.Org is a young, dynamic NGO that works with the private legal profession to provide pro bono legal services to the poor. They harness the enormous skill, might and strength of the South African private legal fraternity to cases and clients that they identify. The Dagga Couple approached the organisation for help with the registration of Fields of Green for ALL and their sound advice led to the organisation being given the green light by the Law Society of South Africa and this set in motion a process which shifted The Dagga Couple case into top gear. On the strength of the approval of The Law Society, Schindlers Attorneys started the registration process and went on to take on the case in its entirety. The Cannabis legalisation campaigns in South Africa are grateful to The Probono Organisation for their pivotal role on the road to legalisation.
When The Dagga Couple first decided to challenge the Cannabis laws in South Africa, they presented their unorthodox idea to Ferdi Hartzenberg. He understood that this is a Human Rights issue and for two years he guided Julian and Myrtle through the process. He proved to be a formidable figure in the early days at the Krugersdorp Magistrate’s Court and administered the process whereby the case was struck off the roll at the Magistrate’s Court and transferred to the North Gauteng High Court. After two years Ferdi advised The Dagga Couple that their case needed the pro bono assistance of a larger law firm. Julian and Myrtle are very grateful to Ferdi for his role in getting through the first steps of the process.
ADVOCATE RUDOLPH JANSEN
ADVOCATE RUDOLPH JANSEN
The legalisation cause in South Africa is also grateful for the guidance of Advocate Rudolph Jansen. We were very sad to hear of the untimely passing of Adv Jansen in November 2017. He gave us very sound legal advice in the beginning and created the foundations for our campaign by submitting our affidavit that summonsed the government to answer to charges of enacting unlawful laws. He brought it to our attention early on in the process that we would need to build a large social activist network and form a non-profit company in order to manage the formidable task of changing a law. Thank you Advocate Jansen.
State Legal Team
Bogoshi Bokaba was admitted to the Johannesburg Society of Advocates in December 1994 and took silk in January 2008. His preferred areas of practice include commercial, corporate, tax and administrative law. He appears primarily before the High Courts, the Supreme Court of Appeal, arbitrations and the High and Supreme Courts of Namibia. In addition to his practice he has been appointed as an acting judge and as an arbitrator. Bogoshi holds an LLB and Higher Diplomas in corporate and tax law
Doctors For Life Legal Team
Attorney at the University of Pretoria Law Clinic.
Advocate Reg Willis is chairman of the Christian Lawyers Association.
Advocate Mpati Qofa is assisting Advocate Reginald Willis.
High Court Judge
Mr Natvarlal Ranchod as a Judge of the North and South Gauteng High Courts, Pretoria and Johannesburg.