Decriminalise drugs: medical journal editor

2011-02-04 12:45

The SA Medical Journal says South Africa’s war on drugs has failed, and they should be decriminalised.

“Using psychoactive substances may be a vice but should not be considered to be a crime,” managing editor JP van Niekerk has written in the February edition of the magazine.

He said the vision of South Africa’s national drug master plan was of a drug-free society.

“Human history and international experience clearly demonstrate that this does not reflect reality. We should acknowledge this and develop better ways of dealing with human frailty.”

He said a more evidence-based, nuanced approach to the harms of drugs was required.

For example, he says, it made no sense to legalise the use of alcohol and tobacco, which lay in the upper half of the “harms ranking”, not the less dangerous dagga, which also had beneficial effects.

Policy should aim to reduce the harm that drugs caused, not to embroil more people in the criminal justice system.

Van Niekerk also said making drugs illicit ceded their control to drug dealers, and escalating the war on drugs made them more valuable and attracted more participants into the illicit drug economy.

“The war on drugs has failed. Humans have always taken psychoactive substances and prohibition has never kept them from doing so,” he said.

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. 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
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

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


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 network.


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.