Pubdate: Wed, 11 May 2016
Source: Cape Argus (South Africa)
Column: Tavern of the Seas
Copyright: 2016 Cape Argus.
Author: David Biggs


I WAS interested - and I must admit, rather pleased - to read that 
about 6 000 people had taken part in a march in central Cape Town in 
an effort to have the law changed regarding the use of medical 
marijuana. The problem with people in authority seems to be a lack of 
understanding about "drugs" in general.

Say the word "marijuana" and the official mind immediately clicks 
shut and thinks: "crime, dagga, violence, evil, gangsters", and so on.

Marijuana is a drug, just like millions of other drugs. Aspirin is a 
drugs, cough medicines are drugs, paracetamol is a drug, alcohol is a 
drug, laxatives are drugs.

Most of us have cupboards filled with drugs which we buy casually in 
the supermarket or pharmacy.

We take drugs every day and seem to survive nonetheless. Any drug 
used in the wrong way can be dangerous, but used correctly it can 
make life better. The same applies to marijuana and its derivatives. 
I know several respected medical doctors who recommend marijuana oil 
for the relief of pain associated with cancer. When my friend was in 
the terminal stages of cancer, our doctor suggested we try marijuana 
oil, and even gave us the contact address of somebody who imports and 
sells it. It did seem to help with the pain. In the medical 
profession it's an accepted form of treatment. Only politicians fail 
to understand this and turn it into a crime.

There are many people here in our city who are quietly growing 
marijuana and distilling the wonderful oil for medical use. They are 
making life easier for hundreds of patients, but technically this 
makes them criminals. This is ridiculous. As far as the "dagga" side 
of marijuana is concerned, it's not much more harmful than alcohol or 
tobacco, both of which are controlled and managed by law and no more 
harmful than driving cars. We waste millions of police man-hours 
annually trying to pounce on dagga users, most of whom are not 
actually harming anybody, smoking the stuff in the privacy of their 
homes with friends. Several American states now allow the use of 
marijuana for personal use or are taking steps to allow the sale of 
the drug through pharmacies. In Britain a law is now being passed 
through Parliament to license marijuana producers and to allow their 
products to be sold in plain packaging, as long as the dangers of 
misuse are described, just as they are on tobacco products. Change 
will come. It seems only stubborn politicians are opposing it. 
There's another side to the legalisation of marijuana products. Once 
it is legal, there's no point in selling it furtively in dark 
alleyways and charging huge black market prices for it.

The illegal market will quietly disappear.

Last Laugh

After Solly's warehouse burned down, it took more than a year of 
legal wrangling before the insurance company finally agreed to settle 
the claim.

Solly rushed to his attorney's office to collect the money. When he 
looked at the bill and saw how much the lawyer was charging, he was 
horrified. "Why did this cost me so much?" he complained. "You must 
admit we've put a lot of work into this claim," said the lawyer. 
"Good grief!," said Solly, "anybody would think you'd started the fire."
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