Dagga march to hit Cape Town

2013-05-03 11:00
Dagga. (File, AFP)

Dagga. (File, AFP)

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Cape Town - A group proposing that dagga be legalised plans to march in Cape Town to highlight their claims that the plant is safe and should be available to those who want it.

"There is growing awareness among global and South African citizens that drug war propaganda against the Cannabis plant and its consumers is not scientifically based and does not justify criminalisation," the group, NORML South Africa posted on its Facebook page.

Dagga evangelists have said that South African society is ready for the legalisation of the plant.

"We really do believe so. The latest statistics not only among adults, but also among scholars over the age of 13, say that 35% of all South Africans, including youth over the age of 13, smoke dagga," Jeremy David Acton, leader of the Dagga Party told News24.

He said that they had distributed flyers throughout Cape Town and that in addition to those who had committed themselves to attend the march from Keizersgracht and Chapel Street, he expected around 1 500 people to participate.

"On the event page, it's gone up to 850; I looked last night. We're expecting a large non-Facebook sector as well."

Studies

According to the website drugaware.co.za, the use of dagga results in brain damage, amnesia and emphysema, among other effects, but studies have refuted the often-repeated claim that dagga is dangerous.

A study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) showed the controversial finding that dagga use was not tied to a decline in IQ, refuting an earlier study.

According to the paper by Ole Røgeberg, factors related to socio-economic status had more to do with the decline in IQ than dagga use.

"Out of all the so-called recreational drug options, cannabis is the safest: It is safer than tobacco; it is safer than alcohol, and obviously safer than all the hard-core stuff as well. Nobody has ever died from an overdose of cannabis - ever in history," said Acton.

In January, researchers reported that several measures of lung health actually improved slightly as young people reported using more dagga - at least up to a couple of thousand joints in a lifetime.

"Previous studies have had mixed results. Some have hinted at an increase in lung air flow rates and lung volume [with dagga smoking], and others have not found that. Others have found hints of harm," said Dr Stefan Kertesz, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who worked on the study.

Pain relief

In the US, two states have legalised dagga and polls consistently show that the American public would support nationwide legalisation of the hallucinogen.

Mason Tvert, who co-authored Marijuana Is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?, said that dagga has been shown to have benefits in the treatment of a range of diseases, including cancer.

"It has been found to provide relief from nausea and appetite loss, such as that experienced by cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. In individuals with glaucoma, it reduces intraocular pressure, alleviating pain and reducing damage to the eye. It has been found to be effective at reducing muscle spasms associated with multiple sclerosis."

The march kicks off at 10:00 and participants are encouraged to bring small musical instruments.


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