My heart is beating so intensely it feels as if may explode at any moment, blowing my chest wide open and plastering bits of me all over the dashboard and windscreen. It’s not the weed that’s made me paranoid, it’s the roadblock that I’m slowly approaching with the smell of the bankie in the cubbyhole lingering throughout the car.
As a Stoner I will be judged and considered to be stupid, lazy, irresponsible and a criminal. Not much different from how every non-white has been judged for centuries. A striking similarity between the oppression of millions based on race and the oppression of millions based on their choice to ingest a non-toxic plant.
Just as Apartheid and similar establishments drilled the “White is right” mindset into its citizens, we are still drilled with the misconception that “Dagga is gagga”.
This could not be further from the truth. The history of dagga is well documented and the truth, as always, has an uncanny way of finding its way to the ears of the people. This has been especially evident in the recent activity taking place in the United States of America. From the We The People petition by the Whitehouse to the Gallup survey, the majority of US citizens no longer believe the unfounded anti-dagga (marijuana) gospel that has so vigorously been preached by the US government for nearly 100 years and are now in favour of legalization.
This activity has not been limited to the US though. Internationally there are more and more countries that have decided that they will no longer enforce these false truths at the expense of their people’s rights, Portugal being a prime example of the success of a liberal drug policy and the social improvements due to giving its people more freedom as opposed to less freedom.
Some popular beliefs surrounding dagga are:
· Will fry your brain cells faster than the local takeout fry’s burgers on a Friday night.
· Is the gateway drug to a life of hard drugs and an early death.
· Has no medicinal value.
· Will make you nuttier than squirrel turd.
· So addictive that you will steal, murder and rape in the pursuit of your next fix.
· Causes lung cancer.
· Is a cause of the social problems we see in impoverished communities.
· Creates a social burden on the rest of the country.
This is what we have been told for the last 100 years. Amazingly, just because it is said by official people in official places makes it true.... doesn’t it?
Some of the truths about dagga:
· Studies have shown that it might in fact repair or cause new brain cell growth. Quite shockingly, the conclusion that dagga kills brain cells was an outcome of gassing a few monkeys to death with dagga smoke. The study conveniently forgot to mention that the monkeys had been deprived of oxygen for the duration of the gassing and that this was the cause of the monkeys’ death and brain damage. Junk science at its best.
· It is not a gateway drug. The vast majority of dagga smokers never move on to harder drugs and might in fact live longer if you are a regular dagga smoker. You may as well say milk is a gateway drug. Didn’t all drug addicts start off with milk? Correlation and causation are nicely highlighted in this gateway drug study.
· Has shown amazing results in not only treating and curing various cancers, but also in the treatment of many other illnesses. Not only does it help with these illnesses/diseases, it helps with dealing with the side effects of other medicines. See for yourself.
· While dagga use has increased significantly over the decades, schizophrenia cases have not increased.
· Is not physically addictive.
· Does not cause lung cancer, may actually decrease the chances of lung cancer. See for yourself.
· It is a symptom of social problems and not the cause. Just as crime, violence and protests are symptoms of social problems.
· It does however create a social burden on the country, by spending millions if not billions of taxpayer Rands per year on prosecuting and incarcerating thousands of South Africans for dagga offenses. I don’t know about you, but I would rather have the cops arresting murderers and rapists instead of dagga “criminals” who then contribute to the overcrowding of our prisons. It would also be great to take the money out of Organised Crime’s pockets and place it firmly in the hands of the people. Logically, the police themselves agree with this.
· For more myth busting info on dagga check this out.
This is without even taking into consideration the numerous benefits of hemp (industrial dagga) such as building homes, treating nuclear disaster areas, bio-fuel, extremely nutritious seeds, clothes, paper and so on. A truly renewable resource in a time when we need it more than ever.
Cannabis, marijuana, zol, skyf, ganja, herb, Mary Jane, chronic, hydro, dope, weed, wacky tabacky, spinach, tea, reefer, twak, doobie.... like it or not, dagga is here to stay. Our past has taught us how dangerous it can be to accept what we are told without question.
Every objective legitimate government sponsored study (mainly US and UK) has concluded that dagga / cannabis / marijuana should be legal, which the respective governments have subsequently chosen to completely ignore. The only studies that do not come to this conclusion are the dodgy subjective studies that are 100 years old and racially motivated. Any subsequent studies that have been anti-dagga have been regurgitated studies/analysis of the original subjective studies and have actually shown that dagga is no more harmful than caffeine. Oddly, these are the studies that somehow continue to be the only weapon in the prohibition arsenal, with prohibitionists cherry picking exerts from these studies without taking the full studies into account. The US government is currently making every effort to prevent US studies into the merits of dagga, as this does not suit their political agenda or the pockets of their corporate backers. I know that this sounds like a crazy conspiracy theory, but it’s not!
Even the recent report by the Global Commission On Drug Policy (consisting of the likes of Sir Richard Branson and Kofi Annan) has recommend that they “Encourage experimentation by governments with models of legal regulation of drugs to undermine the power of organized crime and safeguard the health and security of their citizens. This recommendation applies especially to cannabis....”
The war on dagga is its own greatest enemy, in that it creates a dangerous fundamental flaw in our perceptions. It takes the enquiring human mind and preaches that “Dagga is gagga”. When said enquiring mind eventually finds out first hand that dagga is not gagga, they will probably make the same assumption of all drugs. The gateway drug then is not dagga, the gate way drug is the danger that we create by creating a false perception and creating a slippery slope of potential drug experimentation because “They lied about dagga, what else are they lying about?”. The danger is therefore in prohibition and the awareness black hole it creates. A black hole where misinformation and propaganda run rife.
Alcohol has been proven to be the most dangerous drug in a recent UK study. Yes, more dangerous than heroin or crack. Yet dagga was way down the harm chart, even below tobacco. Yet I can buy a ton of booze from my local bulk retailer without so much as eyebrow being raised. Pot, kettle, black.... you get it?
As with all good things in life there is the potential for abuse, this will never go away. But should the actions of a few be the reason to continue limiting the freedoms of the majority? I think not, there are no victims of this victimless crime.
South Africa has a bustling dagga community. From the recent launch of SA’s first online cannabis magazine, Below The Lion, to the constitutional battle of The Dagga Couple to have dagga re-legalised. We have always been on the map when it comes to being part of the global cannabis community and we are now showing our colours proudly. We are the green in the green and gold.
Dagga might not be for you, this I respect. If dagga is for me, then I ask that you show me the same respect. Do not persecute me for persecution’s sake.
I have often wondered why we are called “Stoners” and the best I can figure is that we are socially stoned by our peers. Put down and discounted because we have made what is actually the safer choice of having a joint rather than choosing from the many available legal options.
Let us not progress to the point of “shooting the Stoner”, let us rather accommodate the millions of doctors, lawyers, politicians, presidents, cops, judges, teachers, CEO’s, family members, friends, peers and colleagues who are leisurely toking on a joint as you read this. Not harming themselves or those around them.
Millions of us are considered to be criminals by our State, even though we are constructive and valuable members of our society. As South Africans, let us continue to be the ground breaker in Africa and the world when it comes to the freedom of the people. Let’s embrace our similarities rather than our differences.
Let’s free the weed and let’s free the people who wish to enjoy the weed!
"... when a man is denied the right to live the life he believes in, he has no choice but to become an outlaw."
— Nelson Mandela
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