IT SEEMS impossible to have an intelligent debate on the drug issue in this country. An oxymoron perhaps, but for one, advocates of reform tend to alienate their own constituency by linking drug use with beneficial side-effects like housing. The build housing with ganga bricks brigade are really starting to look stupid and one can only hope that they move on to more motivationally-sound projects.
Take biogas and green fuel, both readily available as an interesting side-effect of growing hemp. However, waxing lyrical about the industrial herb does nothing to calm fears that what one is really advocating is the devils weed itself, and of course satanic dance rituals performed by lascivious black men eyeing rich white folk and their young daughters. Which is why the real issue is not just rastafarian-style reform, but also drug control — (don’t reach for the prohibition remote control yet!)
On International Legalise Cannabis Day, people want to know how long the effects last, will we have doctors going crazy on reefer madness, pilots flying jumbo jets into Table Mountain and all because old Von Hunks could smoke more than Lucifer? In the UK for instance, apart from the usual campaign to inform the public of dagga’s potential as a recreational drug, the reform movement actually got the silly Blair government to deschedule cannabis to a status more inkeeping with its mild intoxicating effects.
Perhaps cynically to appease the anti-war lobby? But it is said that General Blair did so honestly because of a more crucial battle, the war against heroin addiction and the reason is pretty obvious — equating dagga with hard drugs like heroin does nobody any good. For one, it alienates the youth (like the longhaired skaterboarders who attended the march in Cape Town on Saturday) who can see no reason to be scared of marijuana; and then more problematically, it sets a precedent whereby deception becomes part and parcel of our country’s supposed moral regeneration.
The official lie becomes self-fulfilling, because once you have smoked dagga and then realised the scare stories are so much piffle, the next move by anyone going though an experimental phase as Bill Clinton can tell you, would be to try out everything else on schedule 1 (I’m not sure exactly how the scheduling works in South Africa, but I am pretty sure there’s a category that’s still conveniently out-of-bounds even for doctors of psychology).
The result is worse than simply decriminalising Dagga. Twenty-somethings who don’t have a hope in hell because they’re addicted to Tik, or Crack or worse for most of their life. Speed freaks who don’t trust the government because the government lied to them about Dagga. Heroin addicts who don’t give a damn either way — because they’re passed smoking and inhaling and now inject because they’re used to being %&*£$@ over by the pro-drug lobby, as much as by the prohibition narcs. Which is why the legalise ganga movement desperately needs to find a new path between scare stories on the one hand, and the harsh realities on the other.
What seems to work is the logical imperative of progress and reform. Dagga deserves more leniency because its African, because its not like other drugs and so on and so forth. In any event South Africa with its constitutional right to psychological integrity, lags far behind western countries like Australia and Britain on the issue of reform, and its all because of those damn bricks — you know the ones I’m talking about. Now that I’ve finally got the recipe courtesy of eTV, I’m still as befuddled as the first time I read that more energy goes into the creation of one brick of hashish than an entire episode of Backstage.
— all rights reserved, copyright 2005, reprint with permission.