Letter: The other side of the cannabis leaf

Debate on legalisation of dagga

In response to your article “Dagga debates to weed out legal hypocrisy” (published online, HeraldLIVE, July 10 2016). Mr Macgregor and The Herald would perhaps have done well to consider the “other side of the cannabis leaf”, so to speak, before submitting this very one-sided article for public consumption.

One could also question the wisdom of publishing an article which openly describes and depicts the use of illegal substances and the breaking of the law as if it were a non-issue.

This piece could be interpreted as an effort to glamorise cannabis use and pander to popular opinion, while furthering the agenda of those who irresponsibly seek to have cannabis legalised in South Africa by providing them with free publicity.

Of specific concern are misleading statements such as the comparison made between e-cigarettes and vaporisers. Dagga is not smoked in an e-cigarette and careless comparisons such as this give readers the impression that getting high on cannabis is just a harmless past-time.

While the issue of decriminalising cannabis has been under the spotlight for some time and individuals from all facets of South African society have entered the ring to let everyone know how they feel about it, one must remember that when all is said and done and “the dagga smoke has cleared”, cannabis is a narcotic substance and the issue is a scientific one.

The general public are entitled to their opinion, and have the right to voice it, of course. However, they are insufficiently qualified to reach a conclusion as to the properties and potential for harm that cannabis possesses, as they simply do not know. If “blue-rinse pensioners and academics” wish to educate themselves on cannabis, why not ask the medical and scientific fraternities for information of a less biased nature?

While some South Africans may wish to “smoke up a storm” without fear of prosecution, even claiming it as their right to do so, there is a much bigger picture here and a lot is at stake. The law plays an important role in our society and is there for a reason. Remove the law and you have lawlessness.

The law exists in order to maintain the well-being and structure of our society. To say that it is hypocritical to enforce laws against a harmful substance which the majority of South African citizens are not in favour of, is to say that the rights of the majority of citizens should be overlooked in favour of the drug habits of a minority group.

Those who have recently fallen foul of the laws that surround cannabis are not victims, and did not trip over some legislation they were unaware of. They willingly broke the law, were caught, and must now deal with the consequences of their actions.

There is a mountain of solid, reliable and scientific resources available worldwide and in South Africa that make it clear that cannabis use is harmful. Let’s deal with fact rather than opinion from now on, as we consider what could potentially be the biggest mistake South Africa ever makes.

16 thoughts on “Letter: The other side of the cannabis leaf

  • October 15, 2016 at 8:49 pm

    Look at this guy. Billions in u.s. cannabis revenue. Alcohol the true gateway drug. Draconian self-righteousness. We do not want to smoke illegally. Cannabis can be made a vaporizable extract from. This callow person and his mentality has obfuscated my private freedom. There is also a mountain of evidence contrary to his observations, in fact a recent studied showed the non-stigmatization of legalized cannabis consumption has lead to a reduction in adolescent abuse thereof, this from an estimable research faculty. His sweeping statements carry no references for our perusal and hence I too shall be as sloven as this unacademic purveyor of absolute truth, and give no proof but my sense of self-righteousness. Alcohol related violence is high, but cannabis is much a pacifyer, yet this man claims omniscience contrary to the lifestyles of private, villified cannabis consumers who are far less prone to bouts of violence than the legally ordained alcoholic.

  • September 30, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    Please do some real research before you just regurgitate “mountains” of false facts, many of which have since been proven to be complete rubbish.

    There is real scientific evidence why many parts of the developed world is now finally changing laws regarding its use and classification.

    The next time you are enjoying your legal alcoholic drink at a pub/bar, take a minute to think to yourself how many people in the world have died as a direct link to it’s consumption VS the zero deaths ever caused by this “demon drug” you obviously have incorrect preconceived notions about.

  • September 30, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    “The general public are entitled to their opinion, and have the right to voice it, of course. However, they are insufficiently qualified to reach a conclusion as to the properties and potential for harm that cannabis possesses, as they simply do not know.”

    Thank goodness you are here to guide us with your scathingly clear-cut logic.

    Although I suspect that you haven’t even examined the “mountain of solid, reliable and scientific resources available worldwide” that contradict your preconceived notions.

    Remember, good sir, that it was once illegal for different races to get married in this country. Appealing to authority in an attempt to take the moral high-ground is disingenuous at best and flat out destructive at worst.

    If this were a real debate, you’d be called out for that logical fallacy almost instantly. Really poor argument.

  • September 30, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    A drug? A plant. An herb. No processing needed. Plant it, water it, cut it down and consume it. As natural as it gets.

    A drug? You drink coffee, you’re using a drug. You take aspirin, you’re using a drug. You have a cocktail, you’re using a drug. You take too much of any of those drugs and you die. Period. Not so with the cannabis plant.

    Do you ever have a cocktail? Were you aware that alcohol destroys your brain tissue? They didn’t tell you that on the commercials did they? Were you aware that cannabis rebuilds your brain cells? One day, hopefully soon, when someone has a stroke or a brain injury in an auto accident they will get cannabis stat. You think that’s the craziest thing you’ve ever heard, I am sure. Your “leaders” have lied to you for so long, you’ve been brainwashed quite effectively. On the other hand, OUR “leaders” have patented cannabis as a substance that does just that; it protects and heals the brain. See patent US6630507.

    If you partake of that far more evil and destructive drug ALCOHOL, you may want to switch to the safer, non-toxic and healing herb cannabis. Maybe it can reverse the brain damage you (and millions of others) have suffered. It may even help with the brainwashing.

    Cannabis can save lives in incidences of Traumatic Brain Injuries:

    Cannabinoids promote embryonic and adult hippocampus neurogenesis and produce anxiolytic- and antidepressant-like effects:

    Cannabis reverses alcohol-induced neurodegeneration:

    They’ve pulled the wool over your eyes. Remove that wool. Do some reading. Start undoing the damage. End the self-righteousness. Help end the lies and legalize.

  • September 30, 2016 at 12:05 pm

    More FUD from the anonymous maintainers of the narrative…
    We live in Fascist-Zionist Police-state.

    2000 – 3600 rapes daily.
    The average rape lasts 2 – 4 hours.
    Between the NPA and the SAPS, 2 prosecutions for rape/day!!
    So at any one moment in the RSA there are 250 – 450 women & children being raped.

    Cigarettes / tobacco Kills 90 – 100 South Africans Daily (twice the murder rate)
    Alcohol kills the drunkards and the innocent by-standers.

    So we know there is more to the dagga issue…. more lies from the NPA and the UN.

    We as humans have cannabinoid receptors and yet the fascist-Authorities would lie and claim dagga to be a danger and a toxin.

    I am opposed to the State and I am opposed to the fascist and oppressive legal-acts.
    The SAPS are as disgusting as the Apartheid police… The Blue-Shame of South Africa.

  • September 30, 2016 at 9:46 am

    Is cannabis illegal in South Africa? Yes. It is against the law to be in possession of it. But that doesn’t mean that a law that was drafted by a bunch of old white Christian conservatives is right.

    You have written your response from a layman’s point of view. You have just stated what we already know; that cannabis is illegal. You haven’t addressed why it should stay illegal, or why it should be rescheduled.
    I won’t address your letter by stating that cannabis is not harmful. Generally it isn’t and has some serious medical benefits, a lot more than drinking alcohol or smoking tobacco do. I will instead address it on economic terms, because in SA economics play an important role in our lives. Cannabis is legal in the state of Colorado in the US. In 2015 the state collected over $135 million in tax revenue from the sale of cannabis alone. For South Africans thats R1.89 billion. The state used $35 million of that tax just on schools. That is a lot of money, I am sure you will agree.
    There are medical benefits too, but since you are so determined that since it is illegal and should stay that way I am sure the first hand accounts by parents who’s kids use cannabis oil to reduce the number of seizures they have (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9qkYLtAhSQ) or the parents that swear that cannabis oil helps their autistic kids (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYlAbJRQ5g0).

    Sometimes laws aren’t right; and they need to be changed.

  • September 30, 2016 at 9:32 am

    There is clear scientific proof around the world and in South Africa that driving motor cars is harmful. There is clear scientific proof around the world that the use of alcohol is harmful and that alcohol is toxic. There is clear scientific proof that the use of sugar is harmful etc etc. The statement that cannabis is harmful in certain circumstances to some people is a non-statement. This is not about cannabis, but the criminalisation of being human – yes, drug use is part of being human – the most harmful thing about illicit drug use is not the drug, but the surrounding policies and ill-informed attempts to police the un-policable. The criminalisation of drug use leads to death and destruction and economic hardship as well as a public health crisis.
    It is time we followed the advice of the expert panel of the Central Drug Authority and the scientific evidence from 19 countries around the world that calls for the decriminalisation of ALL drug use and non-violent drug offenses and for us to embrace the principles of harm reduction and prevention through the creation of an enabling public health environment.
    To suggest otherwise is to ignore the science and continue to perpetuate the oppression of millions of people – drug laws are not based on science but rather on the agenda to promote the “colonial”. Please see what has happened in South and Central America if we want a hint at where we are heading if we do not refuse to embrace the mission of prohibitionists driven by a moral, not scientific, agenda.

    • September 30, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Amen. Mention is made in the letter of a mountain of evidence proving how harmful cannabis is, yet not a single source is cited. I did a quick Google search on medical cannabis and could not find a single paper that might form part of this mountain, only the opposite pointing out the benefits. Prozac and Morphine are both drugs that are more harmful and addictive than cannabis, yet you would be hard pressed to find patients who are addicted to it. Why? Because it can be legally prescribed and both drugs are regulated. How on earth does one then arrive at the conclusion that criminalizing a drug, and in so doing removing the state’s power to regulate it, would make us all safer? And how can we justify calling terminally ill patients criminals if they choose to use natural medicine? Even coffee is more addictive than cannabis. Cigarettes give people cancer and are also more addictive? Why are smokers not called criminals then? Because selling cigarettes that give people cancer is legal? How can some people fail to see the hypocrisy here?

  • September 30, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Bla Bla Bla…

    As caffine, alchol, ritalin, prozac etc… are all narcotics and are all abused.
    The above however have no other use apart from being drugs.

    You also make statements if being a scientific issue, yet you do not provide any links or facts because when you look, the only facts and science you will find is positive.

    There is no difference between having a spliff after work or having a couple of beers, they’re both causing damage to something in some way. Sure it helps some people with certain diseases but most people use it recreationally, just look booze.

    That being said, from hemp, which is the plant without the THC (or very little), that has been grouped in the same category as weed. You can make so many different products and because it’s such a quick growing plant, you can create more, faster.

    It makes sense to legalize because there is simply no reason to not.

  • September 30, 2016 at 7:41 am

    Holly crap, this is about the most ignorant piece of crap I’ve read in months. A mention of scientific evidence and not one single source is mentioned. Well, I happen to have a university education and have read the research. For those interested to know the truth instead of the ignorant drivel published above, simply Google “research medical cannabis”.

  • September 30, 2016 at 6:21 am

    Mr. Peterson should follow his own advice and check out some of the thousands of scientific studies that have been published, and are currently being published, on the medical benefits of cannabis. There is nothing to be afraid of, provided that users use the same caution they would use with alcohol (which kills thousands of people every year) or tobacco (ditto).

  • September 29, 2016 at 10:23 pm

    “There is a mountain of solid, reliable and scientific resources available worldwide and in South Africa that make it clear that cannabis use is harmful.”

    What complete poppycock. If you make such a claim the burden of proof is upon you. Why is this “mountain of solid, reliable and scientific resources” so bloody hard to find? Please do those of us supposedly less adept at finding it a favour and the courtesy of pointing us in the right direction. But please just don’t lead us to government funded studies, which have been proved to have been carried out with the sole intention to find harms associated with cannabis use. Clearly not impartial or an unbiased agenda there then hey!

    The fact remains that South Africans are now rapidly and in ever increasing numbers realising what a joke our country’s dagga laws have been and how many lives these cruel, illogical and scientifically unsound laws have ruined.

    To treat people as criminals for using a plant is in and of itself CRIMINAL! These laws concerning dagga are a breach of our human rights, discriminatory and therefore as our country’s hightest courts will soon confirm – unconstitutional.

    To the last remaining and ever shrinking population of prohibitionists out there, the tide is turning and millions of South Africans DEMAND change. You really have nothing to fear. No one is going to force you to use dagga against your will. Our children will be safer due to regulating and taxing the dagga trade rather than ignoring it and leaving it in the hands of the illicit market.

    In closing – If you don’t like dagga you’re not going to like the future.

  • September 29, 2016 at 9:47 pm

    Dagga is as traditional to SA as biltong, boerebeskuit & witblits. It fascinated JV Riebeeck and missionaries extolled its virtues. 200m US citizens have access to dagga as medicine + populations of 11 other countries. The wheels are in motion, logic prevails (science, the constitution) and SA will soon have legalised dagga too! You should focus your energy on real health concerns, like sugar, the underlying cause of chronic disease.

  • September 29, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Decriminalize marijuana , let everyone grow it and new industry will BLOOM across South Africa . The VAT on sales alone can change the course on so many challenges faced by our people and I’m not talking about “drugs” but a sustainable plant that makes paper , fuel , clothing , building materials and so much more and the seeds are a great source of excellent protein for man and beast .It’s a crime that we are letting this great PLANT go unused .

  • September 29, 2016 at 1:33 pm

    Theres more evidence to say cannabis is fsr safer than alcohol and all pharmaceutical drugs. There is overwhelming evidence that prohibition causes far nore harm than cannabis.

    The harms from cannabis have been overstated for years through lies, propaganda and maintained through stigma.

  • September 29, 2016 at 12:16 pm

    What a lot of nonsense. As if the prohibition of a highly useful plant that benefits millions of people was really in the interests of society – who would believe it. More likley in the interests of the multi-national drug and pharmaceutical, fossil and nucler fuel and plastics industries and their profits – and at huge expense to the public purse, taking mostly victimless people to court and prison. Meanwhile, in truth, countless people suffer and die from some of those pills,our atmosphere is polluted by plastics and fossil fuels, our seas are irradiated from nucler disasters. Everything that can be made from a hydrocarbon and be made from a carbohydrate – almost all those dangerous products could be repalced by a plant that grows almost anywhere, a plant that has never killed anyone, unlike the tobacco and alcohol that is not just allowed but encouraged. Wake up Adam! Don’t be the last man to see the sense and justice in legalization


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