'Common sense' dagga policy needed

2012-08-27 11:21

Cape Town - The policy toward dagga should be informed by a rational discussion on the dangers of drugs, not on the basis of the actions of a minority of people, an activist has argued.

"People are going to do these stupid things purely because of who they are, but if we look at the actual evidence behind it [dagga], we can lower these numbers by taking an evidence-based policy and have an overall effect," an activist, only known as Buzz, told News24.

Buzz advocates for mature discussions on the consumption of dagga and several studies have found that it is less detrimental to lung health than cigarettes.

In January, researchers reported that several measures of lung health actually improved slightly as young people reported using more dagga - at least up to a couple of thousand joints in a lifetime.

"Previous studies have had mixed results. Some have hinted at an increase in lung air flow rates and lung volume [with dagga smoking], and others have not found that. Others have found hints of harm," said Dr Stefan Kertesz, from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, who worked on the study.


Cannabis is one of the most widely cultivated crops and, despite prohibition in several jurisdictions, use continues to escalate.

Dagga has long been blamed as a so-called "gateway" drug to harder substances like heroin and cocaine, but a Yale study in August disputed this conclusion.

While the authors were at pains to point out abuse of any substance was likely to increase the likelihood of addiction to prescription opiate drugs, the study found that alcohol was more likely to be the gateway drug than dagga.

Using clinical data from the US National Survey on Drug Use and Health that showed 12% of young people abused prescription opiates, the survey found that the "prevalence of previous substance use was 57% for alcohol, 56% for cigarettes, and 34% for marijuana".

The findings confirm an earlier University of Michigan study on the effect of alcohol as a gateway drug for young people.

"If you take [our findings] and apply them to a school health setting, we believe that you are going to get the best bang for your buck by focusing on alcohol," said study co-author Adam E Barry.

This has particularly damaging consequences for South African youth as alcohol consumption is high, despite legislation prohibiting it.


Nearly 80% of a group of surveyed Gauteng high school pupils regularly consume alcohol, according to findings released by the Bureau for Market Research (BMR).

Of the 4 346 pupils in Grade 8 to Grade 12 who were quizzed, 66.6% said they had been drunk, 44.8% had done "binge drinking" and 79.4% regularly consumed alcohol, according to the survey by the bureau, which is part of Unisa.

Some studies have shown that more than 100 million Americans have tried dagga and US President Barack Obama admitted to smoking "pot" in his book Dreams from My Father.

Some countries have relaxed arrests for possession of dagga while continuing to prosecute for dealing and in Portugal, a correlation between the country's drug policy and a reduction of adolescent use was observed from 2001 to 2007.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

  • clay.gray.505 - 2012-08-27 11:30

    As interesting as these articles are, and as pro-legalisation as I am, I can't help but wonder what the point of these articles really are. Does government read News24? What actually needs to happen in order for articles like this and others to be taken seriously by the powers that be?

      ludlowdj - 2012-08-27 12:02

      Its not the governments opinion that needs to change, its the public's, governments that are "democratic" should be following their populations wishes, suppose that's why the official term "democratic" doesn't mean what we believe it to mean. The War on Dagga in particular has very little to do with problems the drug itself causes and everything to do with governments inability to control it which directly affects their ability to generate profit from it. This is the same reason alcohol isn't being persecuted it generates billions of dollars in income each year.

      jigg.head - 2012-08-27 13:20

      Maybe government reads the research? The articles are for our information purposes I think, but I immagine that someone, somewhere uses the research.

      preshen.govender.90 - 2012-08-27 14:07

      going green

      buzz.rsa - 2012-08-27 15:37

      Hi Clay, You bring up a very relevant point. I have noticed the powers that be tend to lead from the back and take action or make a decision that is per a public trend. It really is up to us to show our elected leaders that this is relevant matter and not too hot a potato to handle. Social media is a great resource for this and I'll be posting the article on the pages of the usual suspects. Hope you do too:)

  • robbie.crouch - 2012-08-27 11:34

    Humans were not designed to inhale smoke... end of story.

      CombiChrist - 2012-08-27 11:40

      nor drink booze

      CaptainGaza - 2012-08-27 11:42

      So what exactly were we designed to do?

      ant.abomb - 2012-08-27 11:46

      that is probably the most daft comment i have read today. were we designed to ingest any of the unnatural chemicals in our food, the pollution in the air from industry and motor vehicles, the chemicals in the water to make it safe to drink etc etc? end of what story? no more coffee, sugar, pain killers, cough mixture, beer, processed meat, breakfast cereal, wine, etc etc for you then Robbie.

      jigg.head - 2012-08-27 13:23

      Not designed to fly but I bet you don't walk when you go overseas? Not designed to drive, but I bet you take a car/bus/train etc. to work? I think our design is irrelevant here.

      jody.beggs - 2012-08-27 13:37

      Or use computers , drive cars and planes , swim , go into outer space , free fall. Your argument is severely flawed.

      buzz.rsa - 2012-08-27 15:50

      Humans would be very out of place in today's world if we didn't do things that we were not designed to do. You may surprised Robbie to hear that were designed to be able to consume cannabis though... it's called our endocannabinoid system.

      veritas.odium.paret - 2012-08-28 22:58

      Well robbie, there's some brownies with a very special ingredient you should try...

  • greg.meyer.543 - 2012-08-27 11:44

    The Government aren't our rulers. We live in a democracy were the PEOPLE should decide the laws. This article is spreading awareness, getting rid of the propaganda built around the plant so the people can start supporting the legalization. Again, we the people should decide what is right and wrong for our country, not some politician, president or banker who are afraid of Hemp and its amazing qualities. "We will never be free when nature is illegal" "There is no victim when smoking, so why is it punishable by law"? Law is there to protect people from each other, It is not there to profit/corporations who will loose billions from weed and hemp if it was regulated.

      CaptainGaza - 2012-08-27 11:54

      I like it Greg, I like it!!!!

  • scott.kirby.752 - 2012-08-27 12:25

    Should weed be legal? Unequivocally yes... BUT it will take a brave politician to campaign on this and try and push it through. Take here in SA for example, imagine all the Tannies' reactions to this legislation. People will go utterly nuts because they have been brainwashed into thinking that its a dangerous substance.

  • afriend.ofyoda - 2012-08-27 13:27

    Hi there! Would you like to know a little bit more about me? Yes? Ok well awesome, here we I go! I am a man, almost 30 years of age and have three degrees including a masters. I am a registered professional and I have recently started my own business. I am not schizophrenic and i am not depressed. I pay my taxes and and i keep with the speed limit. I have a lovely girlfriend and an amazingly close family. I enjoy life and even during tough times I try my best to enjoy the adventure. Ohh yes, and I have also been smoking marijuana almost every day for the last decade. Now go ahead and judge me. Regards, afriendofyoda

  • jody.beggs - 2012-08-27 13:38

    Don't forget not as addictive as prescription pain medication. Dam the man.

  • reza.daniels1 - 2012-08-27 13:53

    As far as I am concerned anything and everything that impairs one's judgement (substance) should be prohibited. Just because some people can handle it does not make it okay - for the greater good of your fellow man it should be refrained from. The "democracy" argument is flawed - if the majority of "the people" believe beating you wife is OK does that mean it should not be a crime? I don't think so. At one point slavery was acceptable worldwide - that did not make it legitimate now did it? That's my view.

      CaptainGaza - 2012-08-27 14:22

      If the majority think it's not a crime to beat your wife,then yes, it should be viewed as being ok. My answer my sound absurd but that's only because your comment is absurd.

      afriend.ofyoda - 2012-08-27 14:39

      Reza. How can you compare beating your wife and slavery with smoking a joint? That's absurd! Both those examples involve hurting someone else and taking advantage of another person. Of course that should not be allowed, ever, in any society. But why cant i enjoy a joint by myself? It's insulting that you assume that the general pot smoker will think that way. And what on earth are you on about the greater good of my fellow man? Some people cant drink milk. Does that mean that I should now abstain from eating ice cream because someone else is lactose intolerant and i might offend them? Or because 1% of people are allergic to latex they should now outright ban condoms? And how arrogant can you be to tell me which natural products I may or may not administer to myself? Its just, absurd! Stop being so offended...

      jody.beggs - 2012-08-27 14:44

      Interesting so your saying cigarettes must be banned , pain medication , alcohol , caffeine , flu medication , cough syrup etc ... Really ?

      buzz.rsa - 2012-08-27 15:21

      Hi Reza, Judging by your comment you appear to be one of those people who think the prohibition of cannabis is consequence free and cost free. There are thousands of people dying, being imprisoned and having their futures ruined by criminal records as a result of prohibiting a non-lethal non-physically addictive plant which is significantly safer than the legal options. Not forgetting the huge profits we gift wrap and handover to organized crime by not legally regulating this undeniable market. That you would compare domestic violence or slavery to relaxing with a joint is absurd and speaks volumes about your comment being an extreme view that lacks understanding on the matter. You may want valuable law enforcement resources running around chasing harmless cannabis users instead of attending to domestic violence, human trafficking (aka slavery), etc. I however don’t and I think that any reasonable person with an objective view would agree. You have the opportunity to learn how counterproductive this policy is and has been for many years. The facts are now just a Googling away. Please let your common sense prevail.

      buzz.rsa - 2012-08-28 17:40

      @Reza: "Greater good"? What is good about? - Organised crime profiting from cannabis and thereby funding hard drugs and human trafficking - Death of thousands of people in the illicit trade of cannabis - Murder, rape, abuse, etc. as police catch harmless cannabis users instead of actual criminals - Deepening of social wounds as tax resources are being spent on catching, prosecuting and imprisoning cannabis users instead of building homes, schools, hospitals, etc. - The imprisonment of millions of adults for nothing more than cannabis. Unlike your previous comment, these are not extreme examples. These are really happening as you sit comfortably at your keyboard.

      arne.verhoef - 2012-08-28 23:02

      So you want to homogenise the entire human race?

  • jeremy.acton - 2012-08-27 16:42

    In 2014 ctizens will be able to vote for the Dagga Party. And there are two court summonses of the state on the dagga issue at present. google Dagga couple for the North Gauteng initiative. Click here for the Western Cape initiative.

  • pages:
  • 1