In South Africa, the grass is much less green on the illicit cannabis market

It’s now almost as easy to order the best cannabis as it is to have a beer on Davenport Road: no fewer than six outlets dot the restaurant district, which has become Durban’s Green Mile.

In fact, it’s even easier if you start on a Tuesday, at 11 a.m. Most restaurants are still getting ready to open for lunch, but at cannabis shops, customers are already filing in.

Dirty Kush Breath, Strawberry Coug, Alien Cookies (cannabis strains), grown indoors, outdoors and in greenhouses; hash, dab (vaporized cannabis extract) or shatter (ultraconcentrated cannabis with a high THC content): so many products offered, in a whole range of cultivars (varieties), types of extraction and concentrates, at prices – and effects – as varied as the collection of whiskeys in the trendiest neighborhood’s most exclusive bars.

From small traffic to a busy store

The sale – or purchase – of cannabis is still illegal on Davenport Road like anywhere else in South Africa. After the ruling of the Constitutional Court in 2018 annulling the law which, for eighty years, had prohibited the consumption of marijuana, the State had two years to reform the legislation in this direction. He has – very largely – let this deadline pass and the enabling law will only be introduced once the president has signed the bill on the use of cannabis for personal purposes (he did so on 28 may).

This step will pave the way for legislation authorizing a commercial cannabis market, based on a national legal framework developed by the Ministry of Agriculture. This government delay, however, has not stopped small entrepreneurs in Davenport Road, other areas of Durban and the rest of the country from getting a head start “the green economy” which President Cyril Ramaphosa has praised every year since 2020 in his state of the nation speeches.

The proliferation of points of sale and new players in this sector – and the influx of money that accompanies it – is not, however, to please everyone.

Anwar, 68, has been selling cannabis in Durban’s Warwick Triangle area for more than fifty years and is one of those whose business succumbed to the green wave that swept the city after decriminalization. The eldest of ten children, Anwar started selling cannabis as a teenager, after leaving school in the third grade.

“To think we went to jail for that!”

“I started selling zol (shit) at 16 and I continue to sell them today, he says. My father smoked and sent me to get his weed. That’s how I got into it.”

Cannabis money allowed Anwar to eat, pay his rent and send his four sons to school, but it also got him into trouble with the law and, in 1989, a long prison sentence for drug trafficking. dagga (light cannabis): “The first two times I paid a fine and received a suspended sentence. Then, as I had reoffended, I went to prison. The judge considered that the suspended sentences did not teach me a lesson, and I received six and a half years.

At its output

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