David Wightman is a cannabis activist who was born in Zambia and raised in Canada. In May of this year, Marijuana.com published a feature on David highlighting his attempt to bring cannabis reform to Zambia through his journalism and various other efforts.
By July, Zambian authorities raided David’s home and arrested his brother when David was not found on the premises. David later turned himself in and secured his brother’s release from jail.
David has now been in custody for almost three months but Marijuana.com was able to get some questions to him in prison through a friend. He responded with a written letter to let the world know how he’s doing.
(Marijuana.com) How are you holding up in prison?
I am holding up pretty well, all things considered.
I have met some good friends in prison, including a number of foreigners and I am well taken care of and provided for. Several of my prison brothers are sympathetic, considering the work that I do.
I am writing a lot, taking everything in, and otherwise passing the time productively.
Can you describe what prison in Zambia is like?
The conditions in this prison, Kamwala Remand, are comparatively good by Zambian standards. I have the resources and social status to be in a better position than some of my fellow inmates, but everyone gets fed and sleeps lying down. I hope I don’t get convicted, as the Central Prison has a hellish reputation!
What is the latest on your trial? What have the authorities charged you with?
My lawyer, Keith Mweemba, is one of the best in Zambia and is confident I will be acquitted. At this point, I have been in a cell for 58 days and tomorrow will be my eighth court appearance, including three adjournments.
Three witnesses have, so far, been destroyed by my lawyer and I expect to face at least two more.
I am charged with 8 counts, including trafficking, consuming, producing, and inciting the public through the Facebook page NORML Zambia. All of the charges relate to cannabis and the work that I have done in the past two years to expose the oppression of mostly poor and powerless Zambians by the Drug Enforcement Commission (DEC).
There is no doubt in my mind, and in the minds of my supporters, that what is happening to me now is a political attempt to “fix” me.
Are you hopeful that this will end sooner than later?
I am hopeful that this ordeal will end soon, perhaps in the next two weeks or so, at least before October. The case against me is weak, not least of all because the DEC failed to obtain a search warrant and I was not home when they raided the farm.
My lawyer is more confident than I am, which I suppose is a good sign. I remain optimistic, but I am holding off plans for my release party until it’s a sure thing!
I assume you received word regarding the funds that were sent by Marc Emery?
I did indeed hear that [Marc] had sent a generous donation, which my lawyer has confirmed. Thank you!
Is there anything else the cannabis community can do from the outside to help you?
Help raise awareness of my case on social media, which I feel is the best way to support me from outside. These DEC “vampires” as the local Rastafarians call them, hate bad publicity and international publicity can only help push the cause of ending the vicious form of cannabis prohibition that exists here.
Zambia is the only country that I know of in Africa that victimises cannabis cultivation and consumers to the extent that it mirrors the United States.
The war on cannabis in Zambia is out of control, violent, immoral, and insane and international attention may help to end it. If not, at least to shine a light on the issue.
Is there anything else you would like your supporters and the general public to know?
I would like to add that when I am released and can extricate myself from Zambia, my plan is to relocate to Vancouver. I have a place there to write my books and other writing projects.
As they say here, One Day Freedom!
Canadian David Wightman has spent three months sitting in a Zambian prison. While his incarceration continues, the country where David grew up is in the middle of ending cannabis prohibition for the entire nation. Hopefully, David will be out in time to return to the Great White North for legalization day in July of 2018.
Photo courtesy of Andrea Williams