Pubdate: Mon, 25 Jul 2016
Source: Cape Times (South Africa)
Copyright: 2016 Cape Times
Author: Stephen Pain


THE page-four report "Strategy on drugs slammed" (Cape Times, July 
21) rightly draws attention to the negative consequences of drug 
prohibition on society in general and on public health in particular.

But the "experts" who make a living trying to cure these ills must 
find a far more nuanced approach if real progress is to be made.

The opening premise that "drug users... could benefit from a variety 
of support structures instead of strict punitive measures" fails to 
recognise the fact that many - probably most - "drug users" would, 
like most drinkers, simply like to be left alone to use their drug of 
choice, without interference from puritanical, interfering busybodies 
in the employ of a "Nanny State".

Writing a hundred years ago in The Soul of the Ape, Eugene Marais 
observed that he did "not know of any human race, savage or cultured, 
which has not developed or acquired from other races the habit of 
using some poison, generally of vegetable origin, for the purpose of 
creating euphoria".

With equally uncomfortable insight of the Hottentot, Griqua and 
Koranna peoples,Marais said: "As a united nation they exist no longer 
and I do not think that any South African historian of the future 
will hesitate to ascribe this rapid decline not so much to the 
hostile invasions and conquests of white and black foes as to the 
destructive effects of alcohol."

Your report ended with the (unattributed) claim that "the most 
commonly abused substances on the continent (are) cannabis and alcohol".

This surprised me because for many years the top spot had always gone 
to tobacco with alcohol, of course, a very close second.

And if numerous recent reports in this newspaper are to be believed, 
then third and fourth places for the most commonly abused 
health-threatening substances must surely go to sugar and salt.

Stephen Pain

Friends of the Earth CC, Riversdale
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