Simon Williamson

Legalise marijuana!

2014-02-20 08:09

Simon Williamson

On Wednesday Inkatha Freedom Party Member of Parliament Mario Oriani-Ambrosini called for the legalisation of medicinal marijuana. Although Oriani-Ambrosini's call seemed to be specifically related to cancer treatment - the man was diagnosed with lung cancer last year - his stance, although progressive in relative terms, goes nowhere near far enough.
 
From the outset, let me be clear: I don't smoke marijuana; I have no personal dog in this fight. But there is absolutely no justifiable reason for any government to interfere in an adult's decision to smoke this particular drug.
 
If danger to one's self is what the government is allegedly protecting us from, then why on earth would it permit us to consume alcohol? The South African Medical Journal in 2012 said we lose 1% of GDP every year purely because people are hungover. And that’s mere money – what about severe health and criminal problems like foetal alcohol syndrome, drunk driving, and a direct link between alcohol and violence. The best the government can do here is suggest a ban on alcohol advertising, and perhaps get fiddly about what shops in what province can sell wine on Jesus’ weekly day. That’s it!
 
Marijuana, although not negligible to one's health, doesn't contribute toward domestic violence, nor does it destroy babies in the manner of FAS, nor is it any more addictive than cigarettes or alcohol. TIME Magazine said in a 2010 article, "Estimates vary, but compared with tobacco, which hooks about 20% to 30% of smokers, marijuana is much less addictive, coming in at 9% to 10%. In contrast… 15% of alcohol users [get addicted]."
 
But marijuana gets a total ban. Smokes and liquor do not.
 
So indeed, some marijuana users could show signs of addiction, most notably when stopping after long-term use. But if we assume people are grown up enough to make their own decisions when it comes to brandewyn and Stuyvesants, then why shouldn’t they be allowed to do the same with pot?
 
The other impact of criminalising something everyone does is that it goes unregulated. For example, the meat you buy at the grocery shop is subject to government oversight, which is why we can shop with a reasonable probability of not being poisoned. With weed - which has a widespread use - that surety is not the case. As an example, Germany, not all that long ago, saw an increase in young people suffering from lead poisoning, because illegal distributors of marijuana were artificially inflating the weight of their product with lead filings.
 
Regulation need not stop at what goes into the product. There are reasonable rules to be added, such as not giving it to minors, driving under its influence, or smoking it in public places. But regulation thereof would be accompanied by a jump in tax revenue, particularly if the Manuel-Gordhan model of gouging cigarette smokers more and more every year is imitated. If that money doesn't go to the government, it goes to the people who produce and distribute the drug (often cartels).
 
Police would also be able to focus on actual crimes that harm people, like burglaries, rape, theft and murder, instead of wasting energy on adults making their own decisions about something far less severe than booze (which, as a reminder, is something with real effects on other people, and which is paid mere lip service by national and provincial leaders). 
 
I applaud Oriani-Ambrosini for pushing for some legalisation on Wednesday, but there is no reason to stop there. Government should have absolutely no right to decide whether adult South Africans can or can’t partake in a bit of giggle-twig.

- Simon Williamson is a freelance writer. Follow @simonwillo on Twitter.

Send your comments to Simon

Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


Read more on:    mario oriani-ambrosini
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Stop it, America

2016-09-23 08:04

SHARE:

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
46 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.