In what felt like another day of endless delays, Judge Ranchod made a final ruling that the Trial of the Dagga Plant could be live streamed and televised. But is this battle really a win for cannabis legalisation?
We’ve had front row seats to the months of sensitive discussions and legal work being done to confirm the public’s right to to watch this monumental High Court case without out having to take 3 weeks off from work to physically be in the room. Despite it felling like this was all locked down before the trial, the State and Doctors For Life continued to delay the trial proceedings for two whole days as they did not wish for a public broadcast to take place. Even though the Judge eventually and conclusively ruled in favour of The Dagga Couple being permitted to live stream a non-edited feed of the trial, it still feels as if the last two days have been a limp victory for the State and DFL.
They may have lost the live stream battle, but it has been at the cost of two very valuable days that may now have a knock-on effect for the rest of the trial. Let’s face it, the State and DFL have so far come across as being more than happy to take any opportunity to not let Cannabis have its day in court. Rather than play the ball or even the man, they are playing the stadium. Any and every stall tactic appears to be their only option to draw it all out as long as possible, which may mean that all the work put into securing and funding international expert witnesses could be for nothing as they cannot afford to infinitely wait for the trial to truly get underway.
This is the type of mindset that the defense of prohibition is now resorting to. Faced with the embarrassment of the earlier Cape Town High Court ruling that cannabis prohibition is unconstitutional, the only option left is for them to filibuster their way through the trial until there is no clear winner, potentially leaving it all in some sort of legal limbo. To them that would be a win. Just another continuation of the cannabis status quo. The State is expected to log a separate appeal with the Supreme Court of Appeal, which may see it go all the way to The Constitutional Court, as the judge refused to entertain their endless appeals any further. This may result in the trial live stream again being closed until a conclusive verdict is reached.
Already the case is setting precedents that may become quite the Constitutional knot. We can expect legalisation supporters to continue to wait with baited breath for an online stream of the trial while they get on with their 9 to 5 jobs. In the meantime it will only be the unemployed anti-dagga protesters at the court house who will have the benefit of being buss’ed in daily, while getting a free warm lunch and court side seats to a trail they clearly intend to troll to death.