Mystery bankie at cannabis conference

2015-04-09 13:37
(File, AP)

(File, AP)

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Johannesburg - A tiny zip lock bag containing three small seeds was given to delegates at a discussion on the medicinal use of cannabis hosted by the Department of Social Development and the Central Drug Authority in Benoni on Thursday.

When making inquiries about the seeds, nobody seemed to know anything. Some said they had not seen them at all.

There was speculation that they were dagga seeds, in a quantity small enough to get nobody arrested, which would be used for one of the presentations at the conference themed: ''Cannabis for Medicinal Use, Yes or No''.

Dr David Bayever, deputy chairperson of the CDA, an advisory body on the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, said in his opening remarks that cannabis had been used by society since 4000BC and had been the subject of much research and discussion.

"This is not new," he said, adding that many countries around the world, including states in the US had approved its medicinal use.

Robust debate

Bayever said Inkatha Freedom Party MP Mario Ambrosini tabled the medical innovation bill as he battled terminal lung cancer to start a debate over cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Ambrosini died in 2014 and in line with the country's Constitution, discussions were being held. The late IFP MP advocated the use of an extract, in oil form.

The department said the purpose of the conference was to generate a "robust debate on the safety and dangers of cannabis use in South Africa, as well as inform the South African Position Paper on Cannabis and address the question of medicinal use of cannabis".

"This will assist in developing recommendations on how better to address the problem of cannabis use, abuse and dependence in the country, as well as influence the development of policy on cannabis in South Africa."

Legalising dagga case already heard in ConCourt

The conference would specifically discuss the pros and cons of the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes and research, the implications of the bio-psychosocial aspects of cannabis, religious perspective on cannabis use, cultural or traditional perspective on cannabis use, cannabis use and economic implications, as well as the legal perspective on decriminalisation versus criminalisation of the plant.

An attempt at legalising the use of dagga for religious purposes was already heard at the Constitutional Court when in 2002 candidate attorney Gareth Prince tried to challenge not being allowed to become a lawyer because he had a conviction for dagga possession.

The court ruled against him in that case.

Delegates heard the testimonies of two people - one the father of a drug addict who spoke about some of his goods that went missing, and a young woman who said she had been drug free for nine months after going to school stoned on dagga and moving on to Nyaope.

Read more on:    legislation  |  health and safety  |  narcotics

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