Cannabis in South Africa today 2015

2015-02-09 13:25

I recently conducted an intense inquiry into current research and information available about Cannabis, its uses and effects, and the implications of revising legislation regarding Cannabis and its use in S.A. as is happening globally at the moment.  I long ago lost confidence in what most of the “experts” have to say since they never seem to agree for long, and I wanted to see myself, hear myself, think it through myself, and verify in my own experience.  Put in a very small nutshell, I have found the following:

History

Globally, the law as it relates to Cannabis is extremely outdated and clearly requires major revision.  A short examination of the history of Cannabis Law in South Africa reveals an unscientific and in fact racist basis for the classification of Cannabis as a drug in the first place in order to outlaw it.  To implement control of the persons most using Cannabis at the time, mostly African and Indian, it was clearly necessary to “demonise” the plant which had been used by both peoples medicinally, spiritually and recreationally since time immemorial.  This was done to convince the rest of the population, who constituted the political if not the actual majority at the time, that it was dangerous.

“Make the most of the Indian hemp [Cannabis Sativa] seed, and sow it everywhere!”                                  Thomas Jefferson’s Garden book 1849.

After the El Paso Ordnance of 1914, meant to control the Mexican weed called “Marihuana”, which was ultimately used to control Mexican people, the U.S. Department of Treasury created the Federal Bureau of Narcotics under Commissioner Harry J. Anslinger.  This first U.S. Drug Czar initiated the “War on Marijuana” and lobbied for uniform State Narcotic Law via a vigorous propaganda campaign.  As a direct result of this the Marijuana Tax Act was signed into Law by President Rooseveldt on June, 14 1937 without any public debate, scientific inquiry or political objection

We are currently experiencing this identical process in reverse with the Medical Innovations Bill – Government Gazette, 18 February 2014 No. 37349 Page 6 (5) “legalise and regulate the use of Cannabinoids for medical purposes and for beneficial commercial and industrial use”.  The use of the word “cannabinoids” not “cannabis”, and the specific exclusion of spiritual, social, agricultural and nutritional use, suggest that the process is being driven by the Corporate World.  Let us not make the same mistake twice, this time by allowing a monopolisation of the healing properties found in the Cannabis plant which actually require zero beneficiation to create results.

In fact the U.S. Government’s decision to include Cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, together with heroin and other pharmaceutical drugs was a political platform and went against the findings of Federal researchers at the time.  This was a political move to create the “War on Drugs” still being waged and costing taxpayers countless billions of wasted dollars.  Moreover this framework was imposed on the rest of the world via inclusion in International Treaties which still hold sway today and dictate policy in smaller countries as the consequences for breaking the treaties are complex and severe.

"Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth & protection of the country." - Thomas Jefferson

Stigma

 The remnants of this stigma remain present even today despite the wealth of current information, research, investigation and the verified experience of millions of people as to the many benefits the plant has to offer.   In fact, what becomes obvious in any in depth look at the situation to date is that the criminalisation of Cannabis use has caused many, many more problems than it has ever solved.

Prohibition has actually clearly increased the incidence of addiction to drugs such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines, mandrax and many other illegal and obviously dangerous drugs with clearly visible and identifiable negative effects, even to the layman.  At a recent forum on the effect of the legalisation of Cannabis on International Treaties, Sandeep Chawla , Former Executive Director of the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime said the following :

“We may eventually get to the first step to remove what was quite clearly the weakest and most vulnerable point of the whole [International Control System] which was something that has been obvious for thirty years, but that nobody has ever been able to do anything about because of the dead-weight of multi-lateral consensus, and that was to include Cannabis in the same control regime as heroin and cocaine and methamphetamine.  That auditing needs to be removed from the system.”

He goes on to say :  “and what we have to I think guard against , is that there are too many vested interests in the world in favour of keeping the present system ticking over as it is, and those vested interests need to be tackled.”

In fact, before this document was even complete two big pharmaceutical companies announced  their intention to produce trademarked Cannabis drugs, in other words to cash in on the legalisation of Cannabis and corner the market with patents.  In fact, it becomes clear that they are actually behind or at least supporting the movement because they stand to make trillions of dollars out of the products.  It is therefore essential that Cannabis be made fully and freely available to all South Africans as a genetically pure natural resource for responsible use.

Cannabis is to date a genetically pure plant, occurring globally, which offers massive medicinal, industrial, agricultural, ecological, and socio-economic benefits to the man on the street.  Millions of growers have proven that anyone can make use of it in a myriad ways with a little willingness to learn.

This may sound strange as it is the exact opposite of what we have been told by the “experts” for a long time.  However, it does not take an expert to look rationally at any situation and to see, by looking at the results, whether something has worked or not, and what is true or not.  It is also not hard to see that the stigma of Marijuana as a “dangerous drug” is extremely beneficial to the big pharmaceutical companies.

Effects of Prohibition

How is it then that outlawing the use of the Cannabis plant and its derivatives has actually empowered and expanded the organised drug trade and thus created so much misery through addiction?  As far as I can see, the Law on Cannabis is neither clearly written nor clearly implemented and this sends a terribly mixed message.  The gist of the common consensus since I became aware of Cannabis 30 years ago seems to have remained thus: 

“We’ll turn a blind eye if you are growing a bush or two or carrying a small amount, and we won’t be too hard on you for smoking a joint or two, just don’t  make money out of it because it is illegal!” 

Well, this can only be confusing, especially to young people who have already, mostly by their parents, been introduced to alcohol, the legal gateway mind altering substance, long before they even become teenagers.  So, curiosity and availability are both present and here’s the rub. 

Because Cannabis has been made illegal, it can only be obtained from drug dealers, who are most definitely going to try and push their product by fair means or foul, especially onto the vulnerable – the young and/or uninformed.  That is how come many regular, responsible Cannabis smokers prefer to grow their own.

Drug dealers are very aware of the cycle of addiction and how to lure someone deeper into their products and thus line their pockets more.  According to the media releases we see about how much is confiscated in comparison to say heroin, LSD, cocaine, methamphetamines etc., cured (dried) Cannabis certainly seems to be their bulk seller.  This is despite the fact that its intoxicative effect when smoked is as mild as, if not much milder than, social drinking and nowhere near as hectic as heavy drinking. 

Most people who access Cannabis are, certainly initially, simply curious as to what all the fuss is about.  Those who find benefit (from profound medical benefits to feels good,  relaxes, eases tension, an escape, causes introspection and/or a heightened state of awareness, a feeling of togetherness when used socially)in continuing to use it have to come back to the dealers and risk a prison sentence and all that goes with it.  It is quite expensive, anything from R5 – R140 per gram, because of the risk borne by growers and sellers due to the fact it is illegal, and this really enriches and empowers major dealers whose main aim is to push cocaine, heroin and crystal meth which are ultimately more lucrative to them due to their extreme addictive properties.

Under prohibition, we are handing them a captive, vulnerable market called our children, and most especially our poor children, who due to a lack of legitimate opportunity and other social problems, get sucked into drug crime via gangs as runners or watchers, and who may eventually become drug dealers, addicts or violent criminals.

Plus, if youngsters do happen to spend some time behind bars whilst the wheels of “justice” slowly grind, they come into contact with hardened criminals at the least, and what little self-worth, self-confidence, self-esteem they may have had left takes a real knock - this can literally be the beginning of the end of the road for them; and we have created yet more potential hardened criminals.  And the organisers of crime smile all the way to the bank – they definitely do not want us to legalise Cannabis.

They are aware that this move will liberate massive police and legal resources (funding, manpower, equipment, etc.) that would all then be free to focus on the actual problem – manufactured drugs which destroy lives and are almost all potentially lethal.

When a young person is caught with Cannabis, they are often offered a choice by the justice system – rehab or prison! Obviously, they choose rehab and so they are doubly stigmatised because now they are self-confessed “addicts” and criminals. This has been said to have skewed our addiction statistics for years. 

Most Cannabis users I have known, outside of the rehab situation, will report a distinct lack of indications of addiction  e.g. there are no commonly reported  severe physical withdrawal symptoms, unlike tobacco which has been rated as 5 times more addictive than heroin; which is legal and which has a whole industry available to assist with quitting. 

From what I have observed, people  can go ages between smoking Cannabis with no real problems greater than possibly a desire to repeat the experience (unless of course they are smoking it to mask or self-medicate a serious underlying medical problem).  The potential is obviously there for psychological addiction, but as far as I can see, no more so than for coffee, chocolate, shopping or watching TV.  The actual problems only seem to appear  when Cannabis is used in conjunction with addictive drugs, such as mandrax and including alcohol and/tobacco, and then the physical addiction is to the other substance.

Recent research, investigation and documentation by real people in real situations has destroyed every serious negative allegation regarding the responsible use of Cannabis and its derivatives that I am aware of, and yet the state, even in its most recent legal responses , is still trying to convince us that it is “a dangerous drug” and yet quote no recent, independent, documented evidence to support this claim.    

This is laughable to people who are actually in the know i.e. with verified experience, and many recovering addicts can testify to the role Cannabis has played in their recovery from drug addictions and to the fact that it helps keep them off drugs.

There are some mild side effects to smoking Cannabis (not necessarily present in the medicinal preparations) i.e. dry mouth, hunger, possible paranoia due to a marked increase in self-awareness – in other words what is running in the persons sub-conscious mind becomes quite glaringly clear and this can be quite uncomfortable to some.  In the words of Joey Gouws (Director of the Medicines Control Council) “the most common unpleasant  side effects of occasional Cannabis use are anxiety and panic-reactions.  These effects may be reported by naive users, and they are a common reason for discontinuation of use;” so even those opposing the legalisation admit that it is basically self-regulating.

Medical Use of Cannabis 

Ed Rosethal’s “Marijuana Growers Handbook” , 2010 states “To date, the results of 79 controlled

clinical trials on humans have been published, along with more than 15,000 peer reviewed scientific articles on the chemistry and pharmacology of cannabis and cannabinoids, as well as more than 2,000 articles on the body’s natural endocannabinoids.”  The research has been done.

Furthermore, Cannabis has been shown in government studies (particularly in the U.S.A.) to be “the least toxic plant known to mankind - it is physically impossible for a human being to overdose on Cannabis”  Read the book ‘marihuana reconsidered’ by Dr. Lester Grinspoon, M.D. (Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Emeritus), Harvard Medical School

And in fact pure, organically grown Cannabis is actually less toxic than the very food we eat due to our crops constantly being sprayed with poisonous pesticides, herbicides and fungicides which have been repeatedly proven to contain substances which cause cancer, and which are linked to the development of many other disorders and diseases.

Not only is Cannabis non-toxic, but it has been proven highly effective in the treatment of a whole host of life-threatening diseases, including but not limited to, cancer, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, depression, HIV AIDS wasting disease;  many serious conditions such as cerebral palsy, Parkinson’s, asthma, diabetes, glaucoma  as well as many “minor” ailments such as migraines, insomnia, arthritis, severe skeleto-muscular pain and many, many others. 

“Cannabinoids [the active components found in the flowers or buds of the Cannabis plant]may cause antitumor effects by various mechanisms, including induction of cell death, inhibition of cell growth, and inhibition of tumour angiogenesis invasion and metastasis.[9-12] Two reviews summarize the molecular mechanisms of action of cannabinoids as antitumor agents.[13,14] Cannabinoids appear to kill tumour cells but do not affect their no transformed counterparts and may even protect them from cell death. For example, these compounds have been shown to induce apoptosis in glicoma cells in culture and induce regression of glioma tumours in mice and rats, while they protect normal glial cells of astroglial and oligodendroglial lineages from apoptosis mediated by the CB1 receptor.”  Cannabis and Cannabinoids (PDQ®) - National Cancer Institute

It is important to note that the big pharmaceutical companies have been buying up patents on synthesised Cannabinoids for decades.  However, due to the massive complexity of the molecules involved and the complex system of interaction between the components, as well as the human body’s ability to synthesise them (the endo-cannabinoid system), it is impossible to recreate synthetically what is already available through nature in pure perfection in the raw plant.  Synthetic Cannabinoids have proved to be disappointing facsimiles to date and are unnecessary since anyone can actually grow and use Cannabis in all aspects, including medicinally, with just a little effort and learning.

Under current law in South Africa we can all already apply for permission to use Cannabis medicinally via a doctor and the MCC, only we are told that it will take months to process any application, and there is simply not always time for red tape when a life is at stake.  Patients are regularly turned away, and there are currently around 4000 license applications pending as there is “no protocol to issue licenses.”  Then there is always the problem of supply – I am really not sure how that works out and haven’t managed to find out as the response from the MCC was apathetic at best!  Sadly, Cannabis Oil, due to its illegal status is currently only considered in desperation when all other options have been exhausted and, even at this late stage, fantastic results are being experienced. 

 As I write this I am vitally aware of the actual, verifiable, documented success being created with THC and CBD oils, and that people who care enough to risk everything to do this are being criminalised and jailed; of one particular child whose parents have run out of conventional options and who simply will not, even as a last resort, overcome the conditioned thinking around Cannabis  to give their young son one last (albeit very late) shot at living; of one particular young mother who was given a ten year jail sentence for successfully treating her young child’s cancer with Cannabis; and of a young neighbour who has been successfully treating tumours and other ailments on horses, and whose Cannabis tincture prevented the diabetes related amputation of a woman’s leg – all documented - just before being (illegally) arrested, publicly humiliated,  slandered and criminalised in the public eye of our community. 

And of the hundreds of thousands of people whose lives have been severely impacted by the enforcement of an irrational, unjust law that has never contributed positively to the people of South Africa.

I am equally aware of the wonderful success Kim and Greg (names withheld to protect from criminalisation) have created treating cancer with THC oil, with the results being witnessed by her G.P.  They are currently working with 49 patients and 2 doctors, and have to do so in secret as what they are doing is against the Law.  As do many, many others. 

Curing cancer is illegal.

A short summary of the other benefits of making the responsible and regulated use of Cannabis fully and freely available to all are:

Socio-economic:  

·         Used to create building materials e.g. the Cannabrick - a highly flame retardant, durable, eco-friendly, cost effective, easy to make structural block.  No more burning shacks in which children constantly die – there is no excuse with this resource available to us.

·         The spin off to industrial use is obviously the vast opportunity for self-employment,  job-creation, creating true and sustainable financial independence for the willing, as well as a form of independent “sheltered” self-employment for people currently on pensions/grants as this stuff grows everywhere, and with little to no care for the industrial grade raw material (the stems)

·         Commonly referred to as hemp in industrial products, Cannabis is also used to create a whole list of products from rope/twine to fabric , paper and plastic, and even bio-fuels like ethanol.  Some of the very first internal combustion engines ran on Ethanol before the birth of the petro-chemicals industry.  Most mechanics today understand how to facilitate an engine running on ethanol, and in fact Ethanol is till used in our petrol.   We just don’t know it.

Health:

·         Highly nutritious and is considered a “super food”.  Can be taken in powder form as a meal supplement or substitute.  Seeds are edible and purported to contain every amino acid required for the human body to thrive.  I have bought them over the counter for R27 for a Kg as “hemp” seeds for parrot food.  See Article:  “What is Hemp?  Understanding the[semantic] Differences Between Hemp and Cannabis”

·         Optional alternate natural medication to scheduled pharmaceutical drugs which often have lists of nasty side effects

·         Used to treat a host of illnesses, diseases and disorders 700 MEDICINAL USES OF CANNABIS SORTED BY DISEASE http://www.encod.org/info/700-MEDICINAL-USES-OF-CANNABIS.html

·         Has been successfully used to wean patients off psychotropic prescription drugs many of which have awful side effects, and can be a non-invasive, non-addictive substitute treatment.

Agricultural:

·         Excellent companion plant for organic farming, permaculture and individual veggie gardens on a controlled scale – provides abundant mulch, attracts predators e.g. chameleons and praying mantis which help reduce pests, host for local beneficial pollinating insects, nitrogen fixer, fibrous material for composting;

·         Far more effective and cost efficient to produce and manufacture than cotton and wood

·         Provide employment and opportunities for self-employment in the agricultural sector – every part of the plant is viable for processing into products – zero waste.  It is a quick turnover cash crop which can finance other more complex crops with inherent risks.

Ecological:

·         Cannabis can be used to make biofuels e.g. ethanol for transport (CannaZine.co.uk) Belarus Foreign Minister Sergei Martynov said: "We consider ethanol to be one of the most promising and sustainable sources of cheap and nature-friendly energy, and we have several advantages for its production here.”

·         Cannabis is a viable substitute for paper and the usual plastic made from the by-products of the petro-chemical industry.   Bio-degradable plastic!

·         Paper made from Cannabis not only helps save trees, much less space is required when growing Cannabis for paper or fuel, so more land is made available for rehabilitating and restoring natural forest.

·         Cannabis has a POSITIVE carbon footprint in that its growth cycle is so much quicker than trees and relatively speaking more surface area is devoted to photosynthesis which uses Carbon Dioxide and produces Oxygen.

·         Researchers have shown that Cannabis can neutralise radioactivity in the soil and completely eradicate high levels within 7 years.  "Hemp is proving to be one of the best phyto-remediative plants we have been able to find," said Slavik Dushenkov, a research science with PHYTOTECH. Test results have been promising and CGP, PHYOTECH and the Bast Institute plan full scale trials in the Chernobyl region in the spring of 1999.

Safety and Security:

·         Disempower organised crime and free SAPS resources, manpower and equipment to concentrate on eradicating the manufacture and sale of drugs such as heroin, cocaine, LSD, crystal meth, mandrax, tuk etc. etc. and to

·         Enable the establishment of specialist sectors with highly trained, experts to man drug trafficking investigations, thereby reducing elements of corruption in the general body of the S.A.P.S.

·         Concentrate on investigating violent crimes, sexual crimes, crimes against children - neglect and abuse, human trafficking, muthi murders, and of course the infernal robberies, theft and fraud, fraud and more fraud; and making their cases so well that the perpetrators of these crimes can actually be called to stand accountable in our courts.

·         Concentrate on rooting out corruption

·         Serve and protect the citizens of this nation to whom they are actually accountable.

Tourism and Rural Development:

·         Plenty of opportunities for marketing products locally and overseas

·         South African Cannabis is prized overseas where Cannabis clubs are a growing trend

I do not waste space in the above quoting references – there are simply too many and I have given an independent perspective constructed from much reading, watching, listening and debating.  I have however, made a short list below of interesting articles, documentaries, forums and research papers that I found valuable in my inquiry.  I do ask that if you see the sense in what I am saying, to please investigate, verify and then become actively involved in the lobby for free and fair access to the responsible use of Cannabis for all.

Resources and references:

Documentaries:

·         The Union https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zrFctR0G0fY

·         In Pot We Trust https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9T30G1Qdceo

·         The History of Marijuana http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/grass/

·         The Culture High www.theculturehigh.com/

·         Medical Cannabis & its Impact on Human Health 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Md2WNqqxTQ

·         Dr. Christina Sanchez – How THC Kills Cancer Cells

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=njCiE9XFdgg

·         60 Minutes The Marijuana Effect https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M6tT38Upb_0

·         Weed Country

·         Fire test on Hempcrete https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeW6kuZgPY4

·         60 Minutes Australia: "Green Rush" (2014) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aF94RVuX9dM

·         Charlotte’s Web – CBD for Epilepsy https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9qkYLtAhSQ

·         Drug Prohibition - End of the Road http://www.rts.ch/play/tv/temps-present/video/drug-prohibition-the-end-of-the-road?id=6033362

Books:

·         marihuana reconsidered by Dr. Lester Grinspoon, M.D. (Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Emeritus), Harvard Medical School

·         Marijuana Growers Handbook by Ed Rosethal

Forums:

·         www.cannabis.reforms.co.za

·         http://www.canceractive.com/cancerchat/

·         http://patientnexus.forumotion.net/

Articles and Research Papers – A very, very small selection to start with:

·         http://londoncannabisclub.com/20-medical-studies-prove-cannabis-can-cure-cancer/

·         Cancer http://www.canceractive.com/cancer-active-page-link.aspx?n=3146

·         Lung Cancer http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/04/070417193338.htm

·         Cancer http://www.southerncannabis.org/medical-marijuana/44-medical-studies-cannabis-treats-cancer

·         Other http://www.amazon.com/Comprehensive-Cannabis-Movement-Extracts-Diseases-ebook/dp/B00FZVRYL2

·         http://www.truthonpot.com/2013/07/13/scientists-discover-another-way-marijuana-helps-the-brain-grow/

·         http://medicalmarijuana.procon.org/view.subissues.php?issueID=000029

·         http://medicalmarijuana.com/treatments-with-medical-marijuana-cannabis

There is a wealth of information on the web.

PLEASE NOTE THE “DELTA9” LINKS ON MANY OF THE SCIENTIFIC JOURNAL PAGES – A CLEAR INDICATION OF BIG PHARM’S ATTEMPTS TO HI-JACK THE CANNABIS CURE REVOLUTION ESTABLISHED BY THE PIONEERS OF CANNABIS AND CANNABIS OIL TREATMENT WHO HAVE BEEN CRIMINALISED AND MARGINALISED ALL OVER THE WORLD.

·         radiation http://www.nationofchange.org/did-government-give-industrial-hemp-pass-clean-radiation-states-1392388637

·         fuel        http://www.ethanolhistory.com/

·         concrete              www.intenafrica.org

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