SA’s leading cause of craziness
This morning I was greeted by an odd article on News24, it seemed promising to start. However a few paragraphs in and it began to appear as if the author had stumbled across some convenient copy paste inserts for his/her article, which not only demonstrated a shallow understanding of the matter at hand, but also the extent to which some people will stoop in order to attempt to give their ill-informed opinion some factual muster.
With a little well written flair and a complete absence of references to his/her claims, the author of the article in essence claimed that legalizing cannabis was a terrible idea and that the only permitted market for legal cannabis in South Africa should be the expensive pharmaceutical knockoffs of cannabis’ most talked about component THC.
Once done reading the article I could only assume that the author had fallen victim to one SA’s leading causes of craziness and irrationality.... dagga prohibition. Why do I claim this? Well let’s take a look at the author’s objections to legalization.
Claim #1: “South Africa is a country with an already high crime rate”
I’m sorry, but even Julius Malema knows that 2 – 1 = 1. Striking prohibition and all of its applicable arrests from our criminal justice system will automatically result in thousands of cannabis cases no longer contributing to our crime rate and would allow our existing police resources to focus on actual crimes. The author not only fails on some very basic mathematics, but more worryingly would rather have the cops arresting the stoner next door instead of the hijacker at his gate.
Claim #2: “The criminal and social impact would be too large”
Perhaps the author has stumbled across an inadvertent truth with this claim, but not in the direction he intended. Yes, the impact on criminals will be huge as they will now have to compete in a legal and regulated market that would most likely result in cannabis no longer being profitable enough or informal enough for them to profit from. And yes, great social impact would come from taxing a R3.5 billion per annum market and providing much legal employment in a country that is reaching record levels of unemployment. Let’s also not forget the social impact of families not longer having to contend with breadwinners receiving criminal records or imprisonment for responsibly using cannabis, or the loss resultant loss of income.
Claim #3: “Incidence of dagga use would probably be higher than currently the case”
Had the author known anything about SA’s cannabis consumption it would be that SA’s rate of use has increased significantly over the last decade, indicating that prohibition has in fact exacerbated use while simultaneously wasting millions if not billions of Rands on a pipe dream. Had the author know anything about the cannabis consumption of countries with policies of decriminalized (Portugal) or quasi-legal cannabis (Netherlands), he would know that they have significantly lower rates of cannabis use than their peers who have spent hundreds of billions of Rands trying to keep cannabis illegal (USA).
Claim #4: “The deregulation of dagga cultivation (with unknown levels of THC), makes the use of it akin to taking any medicine for any disease”
Firstly the author seems to be suffering from the delusion that cannabis being illegal implies that there is some form of regulation or quality control. Prohibition means that there is neither regulation nor quality control as it is a black market product.
Secondly, THC is not the only relevant component of cannabis and the scientific research regarding cannabis is currently largely focused on cannabis’ other components with potential medicinal applications, such as CBD. No claims have been made by anyone in the scientific community that cannabis can be applied for any disease, yet you will find it unanimously agreed that you cannot overdose on cannabis irrespective of how high it’s THC content. The same cannot be said for many off the shelf medicines, such as aspirin. By default, a regulated cannabis market would mean there being clearly packaged cannabis indicating the content of the relevant components.
Claim #5: It is an utter travesty of logic to campaign for the legalization or decriminalization of dagga.
All I can surmise from this comment is that the Author feels exempt from logic himself. None of the author’s claims in the article are backed by logic, rationality or supporting evidence. Creating an argument based on the axis of it being a travesty of logic to disagree with an article that is devoid of logic takes the whole article from being itself simply illogical to potentially crazy. A frequent symptom of cannabis prohibitionists is familiar unsubstantiated claims such as those demonstrated by the author.
There is definitely a need to discuss the matter of cannabis legalization in South Africa and authors’ of articles such as the one discussed harm only themselves and the progress of the local cannabis discussion when making absurd claims. Let’s shape the way forward by engaging with facts, logic, realistic expectations and rational constructive debate.
It is up to you though to decide whether you consider cannabis legalization to be a good or a bad move. Please bare in mind though that being ignorant is one thing, but using that ignorance to support the persecution of your fellow humans is another thing all together.
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