Pubdate: Tue, 10 Jun 2014
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Copyright: 2014 Cape Argus.
Author: Mark Christopher
Page: 22


AS THE disinformational efforts to legalise marijuana for recreational
usage light up ("Scientists support legalising marijuana", Cape Argus,
June 6) one can expect sound logic and common sense to be the first
casualties of the pro-pot war.

A case in point is the quote in Friday's article by JP van Niekerk of
the SA Medical Journal, who claims: "There is good evidence that
decriminalisation of the use of drugs reduces the harm of drugs=C2=85
generates revenue for the government. A good case can be made for its
legalisation." Next, I expect Van Niekerk to break out in a rendition
of Timothy Leary's old motto - "turn on, tune in, and drop out".

But is decriminalisation of dagga really the hubbly-bubbly, Peter Pan
panacea those like Van Niekerk would like us to think it is?

In the US states where dagga has been decriminalised drugged driving
has increased by 46 percent in adults and 71.4 percent in juveniles.
In states like Oregon and Alaska, dagga usage doubled. The state of
Colorado, where dagga is legal for recreational use, has already
recorded incidents of 10-year-olds selling marijuana to their fellow
4th Graders. Easier access equals increased usage at ever younger ages.

While visiting friends in Colorado, 19-year-old Levy Thamba ate a
cookie laced with dagga and went berserk, leaping off a balcony to his

Perhaps Van Niekerk would like to try convincing Thamba's parents of
the wonderful merits of decriminalisation?

We are supposed to believe dagga's side effects of memory impairment
and diminished cognitive function, which induces speech impediments,
dulls thinking, limits knowledge retention, affects problem solving,
and hampers complex motor skills, all somehow will accrue to the good.

As for the revenue generating Van Niekerk envisions, no doubt some
crime-fighting related costs could be reduced. But this will be offset
by expenses related to enforcing government regulations legalisation
will require.

Then, when one calculates the price tag placed on the social
consequences of legal dagga - dagga related crime, drugged driving,
welfare costs associated with familial breakdown, and the costs on
state-sponsored rehab for the legion of new addicts - the tax revenues
harvested from this new cash crop will hardly cover society's
dagga-induced coma.

Can we really afford the unstated, unintended fallout from the
recreational uses of this drug? Have we learnt nothing from the
negative impact of alcohol?

While a case can be made for the therapeutic and industrial benefits
of dagga, it must be acknowledged that the pro-pot forces use
medicinal marijuana as a back-door entrance to recreational
legalisation. It has become a Trojan horse for dishonest proponents of
the weed.

My home state of California legalised medicinal dagga in 1996.
According to my many law-enforcement friends in that state, the laws
surrounding the implementation of medical marijuana are so porous and
poorly enforced that California has no need to legalise pot for
recreational purposes. Californians already enjoy recreational use of
dagga by default of medicinal marijuana. Does anyone really think the
South African government and police force will do any better?

To argue as they do, pro-pot advocates must ignore the obvious and
argue the ridiculous, which they do in Olympian fashion. Only
irrational fury could connect these dots.

When you add it all up, what pro-pot lobbyists advocate will only
serve to extend use of the drug. If marijuana is ever legalised for
recreational use, it will prove to be a real drag on society.

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