Wightman and his brother Nicholas were taken into custody in the African nation after police raided their family home. David Wightman has been a vocal supporter of marijuana reform in the country and sources within Zambia say that he has been charged with drug trafficking, manufacturing, using psychotropic substances, and inciting members of the public to use narcotic drugs.
Legendary Canadian activist Marc Emery read Marijuana.com’s piece and was interested in offering support in order to secure a release from custody as soon as humanly possible.
“The difficulty with helping people in isolation [is that] I can’t communicate with him, I haven’t been able to speak to the family yet and I haven’t been able to contact his lawyer successfully,” said Emery in an interview with Marijuana.com. “The help I could offer would be to help cover his legal fees, or any fines he gets, or whatever it takes to get him out.”
Emery discussed some of the other challenges with going to prison in this African country. “There’s not a lot of information on others who have gone to jail or been arrested in Zambia for marijuana. It’s frustrating that in this modern era we can still be so cut off from someone we would like to help.”
Emery said at this point he is just trying to “connect the dots” so he can do something to assist in the situation.
Emery had not heard of Wightman previously, but he is happy that this cause is being taken up in Zambia. “In one way I’m delighted that there is a movement in these far away places and that Canadians are sometimes in the forefront. I’m very impressed and I want to help because he must feel fairly alone there.”
Emery said that the current “state of emergency” in Zambia is why the government has enhanced powers and can arrest people without any proper charges. “Because Africa is beset by dictators, the state of emergency is applied much more frequently than we do here, and in the U.S.”
Despite the challenges in Zambia, Emery did point out that clearly, things are brewing in Africa when it comes to cannabis reform. “They are talking about medical marijuana in Zimbabwe, which is a much more maligned place as far as its citizens go with its government than even Zambia. There’s [also] slow progress happening in South Africa in the court system. [Africans] struggle against much greater odds than we have ever struggled with in North America. Nonetheless, it is much better than it was ten or twenty years ago.”
Emery was quick to add that the importance of what Wightman is doing should not be forgotten. “I admire a guy like David Wightman, to do what no one else will do, and go into harm’s way,” he said. “We live in this privileged environment in this place that’s about to legalize marijuana, but I feel I know a bit of him. I want to go to Zambia myself and help him out, but the government [of Canada] has my passport so I’m forbidden from going to many of the places that I want to go to.”
At the moment, all Emery can seemingly do is offer his support from thousands of miles away, but he did offer these words for David and the people connected with him. “I would love to do anything I can money wise, sending bodies visiting, petitioning, sending letters, any of those things.”
David and Nicholas Wightman are now sitting in a jail cell somewhere in Zambia. Although Emery and other supports can’t physically be next to them, the hope is that the brothers know they are not alone.