April 27th marks Freedom Day in South Africa, a public holiday to celebrate and commemorate the long struggle for democracy in the country. However, the dagga culture of South Africa, which was only recently allowed to cultivate and consume cannabis privately in 2018, has yet to experience true freedom.
The dagga culture has put forward a call for more radical changes to the laws but to no avail. While Freedom Day is a time to celebrate, the dagga culture is still a marginalized group that has faced discrimination in laws created under apartheid. They are still forced underground, and the police continue to use the word dagga in a negative way.
The South African Human Rights Commission are limited in its ability to make changes to the law, and this inaction has left the dagga culture without a legally regulated cannabis industry. The grey market of the illicit dagga industry continues to exist, despite the ruling party’s own history of selling dagga to fund their party during apartheid.
On Freedom Day, the dagga culture must stand strong in the face of continued discrimination. They must tell their story of continual struggle and demand change. They must remain vigilant and fight for a system that allows daggafarians to be free and to be treated with respect, instead of being vilified by the police.
Only then will the dagga culture be able to experience true freedom.