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.