To legalise or not to legalise cannabis? That's the question.

2014-08-24 17:42

Considering legalising the use of cannabis merits a wider debate. So here goes.......

As unpopular and controversial it may sound, its time,I submit, that we debate and make an informed decision on the issue.

That is what our constitutional democracy guarantees, namely a robust and candid discussion and debate on matters of mutual interest.

NO, I DONT USE CANNABIS OR ANY NARCOTICS.NO, I DONT ADVOCATE THE USE OF NARCOTICS FOR ANY RECREATIONAL PURPOSE EITHER. BUT YES, THE SALE AND USE OF OVER THE COUNTER DRUGS SANCTIONED BY OUR LAWS MOTIVATES ME TO OPEN THE DISCUSSION ON THIS PUBLIC PLATFORM.

Cancer sufferer,Mario Ambrosini, the late IFP legislator, died without realising his dream of passing a law onto our statute books that would legalise the sale for medicinal purposes,bye products of cannabis, subject to strict regulations of course.

True, South Africa is a signatory to an international convention against the production,sale and consumption of narcotics with cannabis falling under this label.

But what does the draft proposal that the bill which, Mr Ambrosini , sought to pass onto our statute books seeks to achieve? That international convention, I refer to, according to my reading,does not ban outright the production and sale of bye products of narcotics, otherwise countries such as Afghanistan and other countries that produce heroin bye products would be out of of business through sanctions etc.

It allows for what is referred to as a 'margin of appreciation' to countries intended to produce for medicinal purposes bye products of cannabis for instance.

In fact our constitutional court in the case of a candidate attorney,a Rastafarian by religious persuasion, alluded to the lack of legal and regulatory supervision for the religious consumption of cannabis for the reasons why it would not sanction,albeit by a very narrow margin,Mr Prince's,the candidate attorney concerned, right to be permitted to use cannabis which is sanctioned according to his religion as part of a ritual.

That decision was correct as there are no guarantees against the abuse of cannabis in its raw form. The religion may sanction its use but unsupervised it could be open to abuse.So the court leaned in favour of government.

Mr Ambosini's draft bill is quite different and merits a wider debate. It seeks to extract, as I understand it (subject to correction) the medicinal bye product of cannabis,free from its hallucinogenic and narcotic properties that alter the state of mind of the user,for use under certain strictly regulated conditions. So what is wrong with that?

What surprises is me is why are the experts, scientists and chemists especially,silent on the issue of whether or not cannabis bye products do alleviate the pain and suffering of cancer patients ,particularly those at stage 4 and beyond whose dignity is compromised since conventional medicine is not helping? Unless, as allegations go, they are paid votaries of those multi-billion rand drug companies aka cartels that also subsidise politicians and political parties.

Mr Ambrosini was courageous enough to admit that he used cannabis to alleviate the debilitating effects and the pain experienced as a result of lung cancer and, being a public figure, we all emphasised and condoned his use in view of his critical condition.

There are thousands of known sufferers of cancer and multiple sclerosis inter alia who do not have the same gravitas as did Mr Ambrosini and so they suffer in silence and in the periphery, which is offensive to their human rights to live reasonably quality lives in cases where conventional drugs merely provide palliative care at best.

I lost two very close relatives to cancer and I am living through a third who is at terminal stage subsisting on morphine.

CANNABIS OIL IS AVAILABLE ON LINE BY THE WAY.CHECK IT OUT. AN ARTICLE TUCKED AWAY IN THE BOWELS OF A SUNDAY NEWSPAPER ALERTED ME TO THIS FACT.

So, lets end this charade and get the law passed so that government can fulfil its constitutional mandate of serving every South African, especially those marginalised and out of sight.

Saber Ahmed Jazbhay

24.8.2014

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