The world, including South Africa, has spent billions over many decades trying to stamp out dagga, otherwise known as marijuana, pot or weed. Those billions have been wasted. Worse still, they have diverted resources away from more important priorities.
Happily, politicians in many countries and many states in the USA have come to their senses. It is high time the South African government came to its senses and legalises dagga without delay.
Why was dagga not legalised before?
Proposing the legalisation of dagga begs the question as to why the ANC government has not done so before? Two answers suggest themselves. Either it is scared of the reaction of successive US governments (including Trump’s), or it is in the pay of local and international druglords who benefit hugely from the existing law.
10 benefits of legalising dagga
- Stop making criminals out of otherwise innocent citizens who choose to grow or consume a mild recreational drug
- Free up police resources, and those of our courts, to focus on more serious crimes such as murder, child and women abuse, crime lords, assault and robbery, etc.
- Reduce corruption in our law enforcement agencies (‘turn a blind eye’ monies paid to police by crime lords and dagga dealers)
- Free up financial resources to be focused on more important priorities
- Take dagga distribution and sales out of the hands of drug lords and dealers who encourage their ‘clients’ to try other much more dangerous drugs
- Facilitate the proper testing of claims that dagga can cure everything from cancer to sleeplessness and loss of appetite
- Provide an additional source of revenue (dagga tax) to the state. Such a tax effectively being channelled to South African and international drug lords
- Stop the appalling system of aerial spraying, by authorities, with dangerous-to-humans pesticides, of dagga crops in the rural areas
- Provide a major boost to local agriculture, income and job creation in rural areas. especially in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape
- Create significant export opportunities to countries where dagga is legal. From my youth, I recall that Transkei Blue and Durban Poison were popular dagga brands.
Eight important facts about dagga
- Dagga has been smoked by Africans over most of the continent for centuries
- It is far less harmful to health than cigarettes, alcohol and other serious drugs
- There are no records of people dying from an overdose of dagga
- Historically, almost all paper was made from the quick-growing hemp (dagga) plant and involved far fewer chemicals than that made from trees
- Dagga plants can be processed into high-quality clothing material
- Cigarettes and alcohol are known to kill millions of people worldwide, every year
- Far from being a gateway to hard drugs, it is the law, not dagga, that offers such a gateway
- The value of South Africa’s annual (currently illegal) dagga crop has been calculated to be greater than that of its annual sugar crop.
Undo some of the dagga law damage
In addition to legalising dagga, the government needs to expunge the criminal records of those who have have been sentenced for possession or smoking dagga offences. This will undo some of the damage that the dagga law has done over decades.