Dagga acceptance making progress in Colorado

2013-09-30 09:11
(Matilde Campodonico, AP)

(Matilde Campodonico, AP)

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Cape Town - Early indications are that the move toward dagga legalisation for consumption is having a positive effect in one US state.

The states of Colorado and Washington voted in December 2012 to legalise the possession of small amounts of dagga (known as marijuana or pot in the US), contrary to US federal legislation which prohibits the drug.

Retail stores are slated to go into operation by January 2014, but dagga users can purchase their supply at medical dispensaries.

"Marijuana retail stores have not opened yet, so marijuana can still only be purchased in medical marijuana centres by Colorado residents with medical marijuana licenses," Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver, Colorado told News24.

He said that police have reduced the number of people arrested for possession in anticipation of the implementation of the dagga legislation.

"Adults 21 and older are no longer being arrested for possessing up one ounce of marijuana or up to six marijuana plants. Adults are still being cited for the public use of marijuana, as that remained illegal under Amendment 64."


However, as a demonstration of the tenuous nature of conflicting state and federal legislation, as it relates to the issue of dagga. Activist and attorney Robert J Corry was arrested for smoking a dagga joint in Denver's Civic Centre park.

Corry handed out free dagga joints as part of his activism campaign to build social acceptance for dagga in the state.

The US federal government has indicated that it won't interfere with Colorado's dagga legalisation laws.

"The Department of Justice has provided guidelines for how it intends to handle state marijuana laws, and we hope they will follow them and make a good-faith effort to work with states to ensure those guidelines are being followed," Tvert said.

He added that the state legislation has proved that states can enact local laws independent of the federal system.

"The process that has taken place in Colorado over the past year has demonstrated that states are in fact able to opt out of marijuana prohibition and begin pursuing a system of regulated cultivation and sales. That system has not gone into effect yet."

As far back as 1988, US Administrative Law Judge Francis Young indicated in a marijuana rescheduling petition that the drug was not as dangerous for adults as some argue.


"In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume. For example, eating ten raw potatoes can result in a toxic response. By comparison, it is physically impossible to eat enough marijuana to induce death," Young said.

He went on to say that despite millions of people consuming dagga without medical supervision, there has not been a single recorded death attributed to the drug, whereas aspirin has been linked to hundreds of deaths every year.

"When appropriately prescribed and monitored, marijuana/cannabis can provide immeasurable benefits for the health and well-being of our patients… We support state and federal legislation not only to remove criminal penalties associated with medical marijuana, but further to exclude marijuana/cannabis from classification as a Schedule I drug," wrote the American Academy of HIV Medicine in 2003.

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Read more on:    health  |  research

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