No drinking and driving, and especially no smoking and flying at dope expo
We'll show you how to grow it, but we won't be selling you weed, says expo director
It’s been barely a minute since recreational marijuana use was legalised in SA and already a ganja fair is heading this way.
The Cannabis Expo opens in Menlyn, Pretoria on Thursday, three months since the Constitutional Court ruling in September, as the largest consumer expo of its kind in Africa.
The sold-out exhibition will showcase local and international experts on everything and anything to do with the plant.
But the law is clear: It is still illegal to buy cannabis. Expo co-founder and director Silas Howarth said that despite the event being about weed, there will be no smoking allowed at the venue.
“It is against the law. But we do have a vape lounge and there will be edibles sold.”
The Constitutional Court ruled on September 18 that the ban on the private use and cultivation of dagga was unconstitutional.
The unanimous judgment decriminalised adults smoking dagga at home and growing enough marijuana for personal consumption. Justice Raymond Zondo ruled however that marijuana was not allowed to be smoked publicly and that dealing was still illegal.
The judgment repeatedly stated that the ruling only applies to private use of marijuana, ruling out public consumption of the drug. It stated that section 4(b) of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 140 of 1992 should be read as if it has the qualification “in the case of an adult, the substance is cannabis and he or she uses it or is in possession thereof in private for his or her personal consumption in private”.
The order makes it clear that only cultivation of marijuana for private use should be allowed, ruling out commercial growth of the drug, such as in the US state of California. It says “dealing in” cannabis may only occur as “the cultivation of cannabis by an adult in a private place for his or her personal consumption in private”.
Howarth said food stalls will sell hemp seed oil products like ice cream and cannabis cocktails. “As for your traditional space cakes ... it is still illegal to sell marijuana.”
He said the time was right for the expo.
“Our role is educating people and the government. I think this is good for SA.”
According to the expo co-ordinators, the event was planned well before the ConCourt ruling. “People do wonder about the timing and of course it takes months to plan an expo. We launched just after the ruling and the timing was fantastic. We were lucky.
“We wanted to push cannabis because it is a hot topic. We were looking at the international market and how attitudes towards cannabis are changing. Especially on the medical side, but on the business side too. It was just a matter of time before we got into the cannabis market,” Howarth said.
After directing the popular Sexpo franchise, Howarth is no stranger to controversy, but he says the response to the Cannabis Expo has been nothing but positive.
According to expo spokesperson Sabrina Forbes, exhibitors include innovative greenhouse projects, extraction technologies, vape concentrates, tailored hemp garments, oils and creams, cannabis-infused energy drinks and hydroponic equipment.
The expo also showcases the growing weed business, including financial companies showing people how to easily invest in weed markets overseas. Lawyers will also be on stage to speak about the changing laws around the cannabis market.
“And of course the growing side is huge. There are people selling compost, tunnelling, lights and information. The law says you can grow for your own use, but many people don’t know how to grow or cultivate their own plants,” she said.
The event runs until Sunday.