Pubdate: Mon, 03 Sep 2012
Source: Zambia Daily Mail (Zambia)
Contact:  2012 Zambia Daily Mail
Author: Kenneth Mwenda


In a Huffington Post article titled, Marijuana legalisation: More 100 
college professors express support for Colorado's legal plot measure, 
published online on August 28, 2012, Matt Ferner reports that: "The 
more than 100 professors represent many different fields of study 
from law, health, economics and criminal justice from various 
universities around the nation including some professors from CSU as 
well as former colleagues of President Obama's during his time as a 
professor at University of Chicago Law School."

Fermer continues, as he cites a professorial source: "... 'The time 
has come to take a more rational approach to marijuana policy,' 
Thomas Ginsburg, University of Chicago Law School professor, said in 
a statement.

'By criminalising marijuana, we are wasting scarce law enforcement 
resources, foregoing needed revenue, and channeling people towards 
the far more dangerous drug that kills tens of thousands each year - 

Many a reader might be wondering the purpose of this article or what 
exactly I am trying to get at.

Well, I am trying to argue that as long as society allows or approves 
the abuse of more harmful drugs such as alcohol and tobacco, which 
are often consumed on a more regular basis and in large amounts, then 
we might as well permit adults the free choice to smoke marijuana 
(known also as 'ganja', 'ulu-bangula', 'ibange', 'icamba', 
'ili-bishi', 'ci-blow', 'matokwani', 'dobo', etc). Otherwise, let us 
ban alcohol and tobacco as well.

Now, don't get me wrong. I ain't crazy. I am just being real. You 
just have to dig up statistics to see how many lives are lost from 
the abuse of alcohol, tobacco and some medical drugs such as 
pain-killers, and then compare those statistics with reliable data on 
lives that are lost from the abuse of marijuana.

In many countries, Zambia included, the growing and use of marijuana, 
other than for medicinal purposes as prescribed by the law, is prohibited.

But, can Rastafarians in Zambia, for example, bring a court action 
before the High Court, arguing that the law that prohibits the 
cultivation, smoking, selling or buying of weed is unconstitutional 
because it contravenes the petitioners' constitutionally guaranteed 
freedoms of conscience and expression, especially if the said 
petitioners can show that the use marijuana remains a central part of 
their Rastafarian religion?

Many jurisdictions are beginning to re-think the rationale for 
criminalising the use, selling or buying of marijuana.

Some arguments in favour of legalising marijuana include the views that:

(i) marijuana is a recognised treatment for several medical disorders;

(ii) although the use, selling or buying of marijuana is currently 
illegal and unregulated, despite marijuana still being peddled out 
there, the legalisation of marijuana would make the drug regulated;

(iii) the legalisation of marijuana would reduce illegal importation 
of marijuana and other drugs;

(iv) the legalisation of marijuana as a cash crop would create jobs 
in the agriculture and trading sectors and thus boost the economy;

(v) the selling, buying or smoking of marijuana for recreational 
purposes can be subjected to taxation, and thus earn the Government revenue;

(vi) marijuana is not as harmful as alcohol, cigarettes or hard 
drugs; and (vii) the use of marijuana does not necessarily lead to 
the use of hard drugs.

By contrast, those that are against the legalisation of marijuana 
often contend that:

(i) marijuana is a mind-altering drug that affects the way an 
individual thinks;

(ii) marijuana can also be very expensive to the users; (iii) 
chemicals in marijuana are inhaled into the lungs and placed in the 
bloodstream that pumps throughout the heart, brain, muscles and other 
organs and body parts, and that these chemicals can damage the brain 
while making the smoker feel temporarily happy;

(iii) marijuana can harm the effective and efficient functioning of 
the brain by attaching to cannabinoid receptors, and that marijuana 
also increases a person's heart rate by 20 to 50 beats per minute; and

(iv) marijuana is a highly addictive drug which causes loss of 
coordination, memory, judgment and perception. So what to do now? To 
legalise or not to legalise? Or, to smoke or not to smoke?

It is important to distinguish soft drugs such as marijuana from such 
hard drugs as cocaine and mandrax.

It is not disputable that the use of hard drugs can have some 
debilitating and severely harmful effects on the human body, and that 
the use or selling of such drugs must be criminalised.

By contrast, how worse off is the smoking of marijuana, compared, 
say, to heavy drinking of whiskey or brandy?

Although I am not a physician, I have checked with my physician 
sources for a medically enlightened view.

It would appear that the constant or regular abuse of alcohol and/or 
cigarettes can be more harmful than the occasional smoking of weed.

Yet, society appears alright with people drinking such affluent but 
harmful drinks as spirits.

Now, you might be wondering and thinking: "Maybe this guy also 
smokes. Why is he so concerned about legalising marijuana?" But to 
settle your doubts, let me put it clearly.

I do not smoke, not even tobacco. With that disclaimer, please allow 
me to push my argument a little farther. In many parts of the world, 
there is often a great stigma associated with smoking marijuana.

So, even where a head of State is alleged to have smoked marijuana as 
a student at university, he will deny and claim instead that he only 
attempted to smoke but did not 'inhale' the fumes or smoke.

Yet, if we were to subject all heads of State in the world to strict 
medical exams, including such tests as lie-detectors, with a view to 
disqualifying from holding office those who have continued to smoke 
marijuana as well as those who have at some point smoked, we would 
probably have few heads of State retaining their majestic offices.

Likewise, if we were to extend the same logic to opposition parties, 
many would have few leaders standing.

Peter Tosh sang about the need to legalise marijuana, contending that 
even some medical doctors, lawyers, judges and politicians smoke the 
weed. But his cry fell on deaf ears.

Let us, however, be honest and ask ourselves as well as the person 
seated right next to us: "Have I, or have you, ever smoked 
marijuana?" Think again. And if you were to ask your boss this same 
question, you would see how uncomfortable he or she might become.

Instead of answering your question, he or she is likely to rebutt 
inquisitively, fearing that you may have heard something from the 
grapevine: "Why are you asking?" Just there and then, you should know 
the answer.

Young people, be warned: do not ask your parents if they have ever 
smoked marijuana. It is considered rude and disrespectful in our 
culture to ask elders such questions.

Try instead to ask the priest or pastor at Church because these are 
considered to be the custodians of moral and ethical values in 
society, especially for a Christian nation such as Zambia.

If either of them blushes, and then responds with the question: "Why 
are you asking?", it is up to you to infer how a reasonable priest or 
pastor could have answered, especially if he has never smoked before. 
But, many people live in a world of pretence and denial.

The truth of the matter is that a good number of people, including 
some priests, pastors, husbands, bosses, aunties, uncles, 
grandfathers, bishops, wives, siblings, neighbours, in-laws, divas, 
and so forth, have all smoked marijuana before.

Some of these people hold very senior government jobs. Others are 
even chief executive officers of major corporations. And there is 
also a faction that includes renowned soccer players, boxers and 
sportsmen, as well as engineers, accountants and so forth.

The common thread among them all is that the majority cannot come out 
of the closet for fear of being stigmatised by society.

So, the smoking of marijuana remains a hidden secret by the indulging 
party, even where a culpable house servant, for example, suddenly 
becomes too energetic and begins to clear an unbelievably heavy 
workload within a short period of time, or where a culpable dependant 
suddenly begins to consume insurmountable amounts of nshima at the 
dinner table or where he habitually breaks into prolonged and 
inexplicable laughter.

So, it is not only the youths or the blue-collar workers who are in 
the habit of smoking marijuana. Even some educated and seemingly 
sophisticated socialites are into this habit.

A friend of mine in the US once told me of a story of how some 
sophistry-inclined young guys and ladies would apply cocaine to their 
genitals before indulging in illicit sex so as to experience the most 
powerful and intense orgasm of their lifetime. I could not believe my 
ears. People do crazy stuff in the name of 'human rights'.

So, should Zambia consider legalising marijuana? Or, should marijuana 
remain as a prohibited drug while we turn a blind eye to the rampant 
abuse of alcohol and cigarettes?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom