A collection of questions previously asked by a number of different journalists about Cannabis and the Dagga Party, and about the future of legalisation. I hope you might browse through this and consider the many issues in the Cannabis debate.
The present prohibition of cannabis causes all citizens to suffer medical harms to a greater or larger extent, in the following ways: The simple fact that cannabis oil is not permitted in cosmetics and sunblocks, ensures the greater risk of everyone in contracting skin cancer. We are all denied a treatment and prevention of cancer of all types. We are denied the very healthy seed oil, which contains all fatty acids in a perfect balance for human mental and cardiac health. We are denied the high-quality protein (26%) from the seed, the most nutritious and easy to farm seed on Earth. We are denied prevention and treatment of multiple ailments including epilepsy, flu, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson's disease, auto-immune diseases like lupus arthritis and rheumatism, Crohn's disease and Irritable bowel syndrome, insomnia, and MANY other ailments. NOTE: The Dagga Party does not support the availability of medical Cannabis ONLY via the pharmaceutical industry. We support the fundamental right of citizens to grow their own and produce their own medications in their own home for their own use. , and Obviously, the state MUST also make Cannabis oil available to ALL cancer sufferers for free, (and other relevant ailments) just as they provided ARV's to HIV sufferers. These next three paragraphs quote our legal papers in Summonsing the State on the dagga issue:
23.5 The plaintiffs insist that all doctors should be able to legally prescribe whole Cannabis and any extraction of Cannabis as medication to all who suffer ailments, including minors, with the consent of a minor’s parent.
23.6 The plaintiffs, recognizing that all intentional use of pure Cannabis is harmless and medically beneficial, claim their right to grow their own Cannabis for medical purposes at any time, and to produce their own Cannabis medications and, in view of the absolutely proven safety of Cannabis, to consume Cannabis medically with or without the supervision of a medical doctor, and to gift it according to conscience, or in contract with any person who seeks Cannabis medication.
23.7 The plaintiffs furthermore claim that this right to the access and the use of whole Cannabis or any of its natural extractions as medicine, is a fundamental human right to health that should not be subjected to intellectual property control by or for any pharmaceutical corporations for profit, or to any restrictions of access by the State. If citizens can freely medicate on aspirin, and multi-vitamins, and other health supplements, or eat food or drink water, this freedom to self-medicate for preventive or curative reasons must be extended to the use of medical Cannabis by all adults. This right is further claimed as a fundamental and non-derogable right that must be added to the Bill of Rights.
Well, legalisation would immediately have a major positive effect on the life expectancy and quality of life and health of citizens. This could arise directly from the long term responsible use of Cannabis by adults, and from poverty alleviation due to increased opportunity for employment and from improved housing opportunities arising from the new resources available to the construction material industry. All of these factors influence the physical and mental health of citizens. In other words, the commercial and industrial use of cannabis in the economy also leads to health benefits. Those states in the USA which have legalised for medical; and recreational purposes, AND which have permitted citizens to grow their own, have seen a marked reduction in crime statistics, including violent crimes like murder and domestic assault. Traffic accident statistics also dropped and alcohol use gradually declined in the population. The misuse of over the counter drugs was also reduced. Suicide rates in young males were also seen to drop. South Africa definitely needs all of these statistics. The use of Cannabis Oil by citizens would drastically slash cancer suffering and death rates, and result in a much healthier older population. These are some of the benefits we could achieve for citizens health through the legislation of Cannabis for medical purposes. But why only use it medically when it has all this other economic potential? A healthy economy means healthier citizens. We must legalise for the mega-scale production of this resource and equitable participation by ALL CITIZENS in the New Cannabis Economy. This would be the best medical decision for our country. A sustainable industrial energy resource like Cannabis which everyone could produce would kill poverty and all its health risks.
Firstly, there is the massive cost of wasting police resources on arresting and charging dagga users, and in prosecuting dagga in the courts. Then there is the cost of imprisonment and the further costs in loss of earnings that is then incurred by those imprisoned. Further, the criminal record given to all arrested is a massive cost to the individual accused and our economy as the employability of the citizen is immediately destroyed in the mainstream corporate economic sector. All of these costs amount to BILLIONS of rand every year. It is a malicious agenda toward the maintenance of a fascist state. Our economy is rife with poverty and the resultant crimes that arise from desperation and the fits of anger that arise from lack of opportunity. Families everywhere are harmed by their poverty situation, which has major knock-on effects for the future. Children who go to school hungry cannot perform academically. This results in greater risk of unemployment in the future. Cannabis is a VERY valuable and an easy-to-produce resource that all citizens could produce, without needing a high level of skill to participate in the production. We are missing out on the nutritious seed, and its oil. We are missing out on the fibres of the plant that could massively boost manufacturing, textiles, and the construction material sectors. We are missing out on the possibility of cheaper and cleaner energy and petrol/fuel for vehicles and homes, which could be grown by our farmers rather than purchased from abroad in dollars. We are also greatly reducing the viability and security of our agriculture, which, if it fails, will have disastrous effects on everyone's lives. (It is gradually becoming more marginal and with present trends in fuel prices, is greatly at risk of collapse) The prohibition of Cannabis also limits the rights of people TO PROVIDE FOR THEMSELVES, and to be productive and engaged in economic activities which value-add the raw materials provided by this Plant, and forces us into dependency on legal corporate products which often are toxic (like GMO soya, fossil carbon, tobacco, alcohol, pharmaceuticals etc) We are definitely also missing out on the TOURISM POTENTIAL of our indigenous dagga landraces, which could be marketed much like Wine routes and wine cellars in the rural areas, as well as in coffee bars in urban areas such as those in the Netherlands. I once had visitors from the UK who brought me some of their various indoor strains of Cannabis which were based on C. indica, a slightly more narcotic sedative version of cannabis. I offered them some quality indigenous Cannabis sativa from the Transkei area, and the 'up', positive and energising and anti-depressive stoned experience was really enjoyed by my visitors. We have something very special in our indigenous, naturalised Cannabis, both in its high level of biomass production, and its water efficiency, and also its psycho-active and medical effects.
Firstly, let me explain how the plant offers its resources, starting at the top. The flowers of the female plant provide the highest level of cannabinoids, from which the medicine is made, though all green parts of the plant can provide cannabinoids. This is the part that would also boost tourism and bring visitors to our country to smoke our Cannabis, whether it be in the form of dry material, solvent extracted oils, hashish, or 'dabs', (solvent extracted oils heated and inhaled). These flowers also provide the seed of the plant which has a seed oil with a perfect balance of fatty acids necessary for human cardiac and mental health. It could also be used for cosmetics and soaps. After the flowers have been removed, the sticks of the plant are fed through a machine to extract the longest and strongest plant fibres on Earth, which can be made into countless valuable products, which are presently made of wood, cardboard or glass fibre. After the fibres are removed, the waste product from this process is the insides of the sticks (called hurds) which is 80% cellulose and can be made into any type of plastic or made into methanol or any type of petrol or lighter fluid. As you can see, this Plant is a multi-use crop, and yields of the different parts of the plant can be adjusted by altering the planting space between plants. Cannabis can also be considered to be a technological means to sequester atmospheric carbon from the atmosphere and fix it back into our economy, either as material wealth (textiles, housing, products) or for burning as a clean, carbon-neutral replacement for fossil fuels. Cannabis is easy to plant and everyone could participate as a PRODUCER regardless of qualification, skills, or handicaps. We must note that EQUITY in the right to produce Cannabis, must translate to equity in access to land, and when (not if) cannabis is legalised it must go hand in hand with a land access program that gives growing space equitable to all South African families... This may be a process, but it has to happen to REALLY make South Africa a fair and equitable country. Cannabis must not be under the control of corporate elites licensed by a Big brother state, while citizens are not allowed to produce cannabis and are only expected to be consumers of corporate Cannabis.
Yes, I do think the cultivation and value-adding and trade of Cannabis and Cannabis-based products can be properly regulated. However, the ways in which it is regulated might entrench an elite's control of the resource, and deny it to others, or it might, hopefully, enable everyone to firstly grow their own Cannabis for their own needs, and then deliver their excess production to their local co-operative for value-adding, and enable further trade-in-bulk of Cannabis materials to other economic participants, such as corporations with international networks, or the State's local health services.
Using Cannabis allows one to modulate and boost the internal endocannabinoid system of one's body, and it is found by millions of users that moderate use of Cannabis, whether smoked or eaten, really does have positive long-term health effects, as measured in populations, and as I have personally seen in my own life. Research has shown later age physical and mental health benefits in long term users of Cannabis relative to even non-users of other substances, and which are obviously more noticeable positive effects relative to those who use alcohol and tobacco. Cannabis is not for everyone, but those who choose to use it should not be stigmatised for their choice. The entire “It's a DRUG!!” mindset is a smokescreen to divert the real awareness of the public to its medical and industrial benefits of this plant. Smoking is not an ideal way to use Cannabis but it does have some advantages. Smoking cannabis allows an inexperienced user to titrate their dose safely, whereas eating an amount of Cannabis can have deeper and more meditative effects than expected. Smoking also has an immediate effect whereas eaten Cannabis tastes about 30 minutes to be felt. Smoking is a cultural practice in certain social and religious circles and should not be looked down upon by non-smokers, or different cultures.
In all my years of use of Cannabis, and seeing its effects on people, I have only met two people who reacted negatively to Cannabis and chose to not use it again. On the other hand, I have met and marched and smoked for dagga rights with thousands of activists and all participants in those events were positive well-adjusted citizens, each with their own personal reasons to support legalisation of this plant. I have so much research in files about the Plant, which is freely available online, which proves its positive medical benefits for a multitude of ailments, including cancer, and which show vehement claims of harm to be more like propaganda than actually substantiated. The rehabilitation services industry makes much of the dagga problem, but most people easily stop using cannabis when they decide to. Although the University of Stellenbosch's Marketing and Communication Office makes claims about harms caused by Cannabis, they fail to mention that alcohol use by students, and citizens, is a much more damaging issue than any caused by Cannabis. People are mentally and physically disempowered by alcohol and can die of an overdose of alcohol, but Cannabis might make you sleepy at worst and no one EVER died of an overdose of Cannabis.
Humans will experiment with substances and most try the legal substances first, namely alcohol or tobacco. Such experimentation in the use of substances is not made safer by the criminalisation of the illegal drugs. I think that if information on drugs' effects and health impacts were honestly stated, the public could choose more wisely, but the present total inconsistency between the harms of (legal and regulated) alcohol and tobacco versus the harms of (illegal and unregulated) Cannabis and other substances just highlights the hypocrisy of society towards drug use.
In the early stages of Cannabis use by a newcomer to the substance, Cannabis use can raise up existing subconscious issues within a person's psychology for scrutiny, and those who are not used to dealing with their emotions, or who have a weak sense of Self, might find the early stages of Cannabis use to be emotionally challenging as you strive to integrate the newly discovered aspects of your Self. After a period of time of regular moderate use, the insights achieved act as a guide to personal growth, values of caring, concern for others and an ability to see very well through the lies and hypocrisy of society, though this might become an issue that sometimes makes an individual find it difficult to fit into their unique life situation, and the prohibition. However, once a person integrates the insights provided by Cannabis, it can act as an 'Ally' to perceptions of the user. I have personally taken my own Cannabis use very seriously in a shamanic approach to the Plant as a guide and teacher, and it is very valuable for meditation and I would definitely recommend a period of moderate Cannabis use to anyone over 18 who is serious about personal development and artistic growth. The stigmatisation of Cannabis use by an uninformed and prejudiced society can be regarded as a downside, but that is society's problem, not caused by the Cannabis itself. Recent trends, however, are showing that persons informed about the relative hazards of substances are happy to use Cannabis as a healthier alternative to alcohol and tobacco and other substances.
The most important way to minimise harms associated with Cannabis use is to not get arrested for it!! The criminalisation of Cannabis and prosecution for using it is definitely the worst danger and harm and cost suffered by users for their choice. It causes costs and effort in defending yourself against criminal charges, and if one is incarcerated with other dangerous criminals during the arrest process, or as part of a sentence for possession or dagga, it can be very dangerous to be held for dagga use. It is also best to not overindulge in eating it if you are an inexperienced user, especially if you are not sure of the potency or quantity of Cannabis used in the cooking. It is important to note that Cannabis is not in any way toxic, and if you aren't enjoying the experience you can simply go to bed and sleep it off. It also helps to not excessively inhale cannabis smoke deep into the lungs. This is not necessary as one can get perfectly high on just holding the smoke in your mouth, swallowing, and then exhaling the smoke through your nose. It can also be used as a tea and eaten, and its medical benefits can be obtained via these methods during times of flu and coughs when smoking might not be possible, and it helps greatly in alleviating flu symptoms, asthma and respiratory distress. It has actually saved my life on many occasions during serious bouts of flu.
Yes, this can be a problem where other substances are sold on the same premises as the dagga. Some merchants try to enslave their weed buying customers onto tik or heroin by lacing the dagga they sell with small amounts of tik or heroin. The right to grow one's own Cannabis for personal use would go a long way to reducing this risk. On the whole, however, I have found it exceptionally easy to obtain good quality dagga at any time and in any area with a careful enquiry. Dagga smokers are all mentally connected in an unusual psychic way and we can recognise each other and this is one reason that the prohibition has absolutely no effect on the availability of Cannabis or the choice of people to use it. We, the citizens of the Dagga culture of South Africa, are a mutually-supportive, activist culture working collectively for our rights. The existing Cannabis market is a self-regulating people's market, and I don't call it a “black market” because it is the fault of the prohibition that this market must be underground. Big growers, however, often find themselves being visited by gangs who demand 'protection money' or a cut of the grow operation, or who just shut it down with threats or murder. This unfair and criminal behaviour is a direct result of the prohibition, which would be sidelined if everyone had the right to grow their own.