KNYSNA NEWS - Two recent “drug" busts involving the police confiscating marijuana plants from residents in Greater Knysna have placed a spotlight on the plant – and bringing with it much controversy, as witnessed on social media after Knysna-Plett Herald (KPH) reported on the most recent case.
The first bust had Knysna police swoop down on a resident of Bibby’s Hoek, near Rheenendal, on 23 November last year where they confiscated almost 50 cannabis plants.
Police spokesperson Sergeant Chris Spies said at that time that, "Information of possible drug-related activities at a house in the rural sector was followed up…
They found 49 dagga trees outside the house," said Spies. A 48-year-old man was arrested during this incident.
The second incident occurred almost a month later, on 14 December, when police raided a private home in central Knysna and found a nursery of 26 "trees" in the attic of the property.
Spies said then, "Two suspects aged 36 and 62 were arrested … on charges of cultivating of dagga."
He also said that the information that led to the bust came from a member of the public.
Andrew Burbidge, the man arrested in Bibby’s Hoek – who is due in court on 10 April – approached Knysna-Plett Herald in his quest to create awareness of the benefits of marijuana, which according to him is known as cannabis sativa, to humans.
One of the points he wants to drive home has to do with the consequences of tipping the authorities off to someone's "drug-related activities".
He says, "If you suspect someone is cultivating and selling cannabis in your community, my advice is to first try and resolve the matter within your community. Don’t be a ‘hero’ – be humane instead."
He explains, “My wife uses cannabis for its many medical benefits. She has a medical condition, and juicing the plant and consuming it helps to relieve severe headaches, anxiety and stress, among other ailments.”
Not having the plants at her disposal, he adds, means she now has to rely heavily on expensive prescription medication.
“My wife and I are passionate gardeners and grow our own foods and medicinal plants for personal use.
"I myself am a student of shamanic beliefs, and study medicinal plants in general,” he says.
Burbidge says the State and general public are blissfully unaware of the benefits cannabis holds for people – spiritually, mentally and physically.
He suggests a simple Google search to find all the information out there in cyberspace on what he calls a miracle plant.
“On 31 March 2017, the High Court found that prohibiting the cultivation and use of cannabis is unconstitutional and ruled that it should be legal to cultivate and use in your private home. This makes a lot of sense,” says Burbidge.
He adds that the State has appealed the ruling because its application would mean "they cannot control and profit from cannabis themselves".
"Making any part of nature illegal is ludicrous and a crime against humanity.
"Nature is man’s food and medicine basket, a gift from our creator to be used freely by all beings living on earth," he says.
“The problem surrounding cannabis is that it is being used for profit and greed.
"Cannabis needs to be introduced into nature where it rightfully belongs in the ecosystem and should be a prominent feature in all vegetable and herb gardens, whether you use it or not.”
According to Burbidge, people should be sharing their knowledge surrounding this and other medicinal plants, and should also be educated on the responsible use thereof.
“Profiting off cannabis must be stopped. It is tainting the beautiful gifts this plant offers to mankind,” he adds.
* Knysna-Plett Herald is planning two follow-up articles on the matter. These will be published in coming weeks.
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