Monday, April 3, 2017

Cannabis prohibition found to be overbroad.

Congratulations to Jeremy Acton who won his case at the Cape High Court.

In his judgement Judge Davis found provisions of the Drug and Drug Trafficking Act to be overbroad with respect to the consumption of cannabis in the privacy of one's home.

What does this mean? Judge Davis created a new defence: The "For personal consumption at home" defence, which will remain valid for the next two years or until parliament has amended the law.

It is therefore now legal to consume and grow cannabis in the privacy of one's home for personal consumption. 

The right to privacy is central to this case and the reason the right to smoke cannabis at home and not in public is because at home we have a heightened expectation of privacy. A person's expectation of privacy is lower the futher into public they venture. If you want to smoke in your car? Keep the windows rolled up! Don't smoke a bong or a chillum, but a joint. There has been a partial semi-decriminalisation. Be cool about it.

Proving personal consumption can be achieved through the production of a filthy bong, or a collection of roaches. Keep these handy in case the police ever decided to visit.

So. Still illegal, except when at home for personal consumption reasons.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Cannabis decriminalised in South Africa

The Central Drug Authority announced in the June edition of the South African Medical Journal that the new policy direction for cannabis was decriminalisation. 

What exactly this mean is unclear. What is clear is that the CDA know next to nothing about cannabis. A central point or theme of the paper is that the CDA lack the evidence they need. This is because the evidence, as it exists, doesn't suit them. The CDA have chosen to remain ignorant of the details of the international developments. They know they've happened, because they refer to them, but they don't look at the evidence as to what it is that has happened or how it has turned out.

To return to the beginning the CDA were required to do research into the legalisation and decriminalisation of cannabis in 1999. By 2004 the first draft was completed, but this was never released. Now in 2016 the CDA produce a position paper which is two and a half pages long which states that they don't know anything about cannabis? This is an insult. A third of the endnotes are alcohol related. Since 2013 until 2016 all the head of the CDA research division could come up with are 10 references?

What is clear is that the CDA haven't taken legal advice. The jurisprudence of decriminalisation versus legalisation doesn't get a mention in the SAMJ article. Decriminalisation is bad in law. Asking the police, prosecutors, magistrates and judges to ignore a law as a matter of policy goes against the grain. The police, prosecutors, magistrates and judges are there to apply the laws. Having a policy which is to ignore the infractions of a law under a certain level is a recipe for confusion. The CDA didn't address this in their position paper. 

The CDA haven't even informed parliament that they are going to be announcing this change in policy. The CDA made no mention of anything in this vein when they gave their opinion on cannabis to the Parliamentary committee on Health. It does make one wonder what is going on?

Where does this leave us? In the middle of the horse having bolted. It's half way out the door and the CDA still know nothing. The details of the decriminalisation aren't in the position statement. How much cannabis will people be allowed to possess. Will people be allowed to grow their own? Who knows, but the details will come out soon enough.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

South Africa's Central Drug Authority has admitted: Cannabis is safer than alcohol

The Central Drug Authority held the Cannabis Round Table in Apil 2015. The country's "experts", real and imagined gathered to discuss medical cannabis and the Medical Innovation Bill. The CDA have presented their opinion to parliament's Health Committee regarding the findings of the Cannabis Round Table. The most interesting conclusion is that:

Cannabis is SAFER than alcohol

That it is even open to debate is ridiculous. Alcohol kills thousands, both directly and indirectly, every year. 60% of assault victims who die and 60% of pedestrians killed are drunk. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome Disorder results in permanently brain damaged newborns. Drunken driving kills thousands every year. Cannabis has none of these effects. Since cannabis is vastly safer than alcohol isn't it about time we treat it this way?

Friday, April 29, 2016

Cannabis oil - good for kids, good for adults

This Canadian mom is treating her daughter's epilepsy with cannabis since it's the only thing that works.Watching this video has convinced me that cannabis can play an important role in some children's lives. While general recreational consumption is not something I advocate for those under 18 sometimes there are good reasons for allowing it.

America forges ahead

The current genetic cannabis galaxy in America. I can only marvel at this.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How long does it take the Central Drug Authority to do research?

In 1999 South Africa adopted the first National Drug Master Plan. The plan required the CDA to conduct research into the decriminalisation of cannabis:

"There has been much debate regarding the issue of whether or not fewer drug-related offences, such as the possession or use of cannabis, will or should be legalised. However, the issue of decriminalisation needs to be researched thoroughly to establish whether this is the way the matter should be dealt with in South Africa."

In 2002 the CDA appointed "Dr" Lee Da Rocha Silva, Prof Dorothy Malaka and "drug recognition expert" Christo Mynhardt were appointed to the abovementioned research. Their effort resulted in the 2004 South Africa Cannabis Position Paper which was never released.

On  6 September 2011 Ms Robinson from the DA asked what the “cannabis paper” revealed and how many deaths per year could be attributed to cannabis.

Dr Eberlein said that the CDA would look into ring fencing; regarding the cannabis paper, he said it was not finalized yet as there had been a change of attitude abroad: in the USA, 140 thousand people were using cannabis legally. There was a shift in thinking and a move in certain countries to legalise and decriminalize cannabis. He replied that it was difficult to determine the deaths per annum as death certificates did not reflect the deaths as a result of drugs due to sensitivity for the surviving family.
On the 6 November 2012 Ms Mafolo asked why the paper on cannabis was not published as mentioned in its report.

Mr Bayever replied that the author of that paper had passed away, so the paper had been put back as a recommendation for the CDA to look at again.

On 3 June 2013 Mr David Bayever, CDA Deputy Chairperson, said that cannabis paper had been started in 2002 but the difficulty was that there had been new information. Internationally cannabis had been allowed for medicinal purposes.  It was decided to rewrite the paper taking into account the new evidence that had come up. This was an initiative that the research wing of the CDA would take up.

On 20 August 2013  the Social Developlment Committee of Parliament noted the explanation provided by the CDA that the delays the finalisation of the cannabis paper which had been due to the ever changing ingredients used to manufacture this drug, which made it difficult for scientists to develop an appropriate therapeutic treatment.

On the 9th and 10th of April 2015 the Central Drug Authority hosted the Cannabis Round Table at which the country's "experts" discussed cannabis. Not one delegate mentioned the outstanding research of the CDA. What was the upshot of the conference?
  • It is necessary to commission a position paper for the country on cannabis use and abuse, informed by international, national and regional developments. The position paper should be strictly evidence-based. The National Drug Master Plan which guides the country on the use and abuse of substances should be the foundation of the position paper.
As you can see. We're back where we started!!! 1999-2016 RIP CDA

Sunday, October 19, 2014

High cost of SA’s anti-dagga laws

Cape Town - South Africa’s anti-dagga laws are in the spotlight. The issue is already before Parliament, and this week was highlighted at an international law enforcement conference in Cape Town when activist Julian Stobbs pointed out that the cost to the state for arresting, prosecuting and applying correctional sanctions in respect of each marijuana offender stood somewhere around R240 000.
This was money, Stobbs suggested, that could be used more effectively fighting higher-priority crimes.
According to the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, 68 percent of all drug busts on the African continent, and 16 percent globally take place in South Africa. The majority of these relate to dagga seizure, meaning Stobbs is correct.
The late IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini made headlines before his death by campaigning vigorously for the legalisation of marijuana for medical use, revealing he was suffering from terminal cancer – a disease he believed was in part treatable with cannabis-derived medication.
Six months before his death in August, Ambrosini introduced a bill aimed at legalising marijuana for medical and industrial use – a bill which was subsequently tabled for processing by ANC chief whip Stone Sizani after Ambrosini’s death.
While Sizani was careful to point out that the tabling did not necessarily mean the ANC supported the bill, it comes at a time when the legal status of marijuana is internationally in the balance.

IOL cz Dagga 02
A ballpark estimate of just how much dagga is grown in South Africa leaves a big question mark.INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

Those opposed to softening the official stance argue that it is a gateway drug whose use leads to the use of harder drugs, it is harmful to health like tobacco and alcohol, and it can have a particularly harmful effect on people who have an inherent vulnerability to mental illness.
However, for the last decade, policy and law enforcement initiatives in respect of the narcotic have been under scrutiny.
Since the 1990s the Dutch have effectively legalised the use of cannabis as a hallucinogenic and decriminalised its cultivation for personal use, though only in certain parts of the country. Following suit, countries like Spain and France have decriminalised, though not per se legalised, the dreamy herb, arguing that there is no compelling scientific evidence it is either particularly addictive or particularly debilitating.
Especially in the past half decade or so resistance to the US’s official stance has been increasingly subverted by geopolitical formations like Bric (Brazil, Russia, India and China, prior to South Africa joining) who concluded agreements on drug policy – relaxing sanctions and moving to decriminalise cannabis.
Bolivia, one of the world’s major producers of cocaine, withdrew in 2011 from the Vienna Convention, which binds signatory nations to legal sanctions in pursuit of the war on drugs. Bolivian President Evo Morales is currently campaigning from the chair of the G-77 grouping of developing nations for coca leaf – the source of cocaine and in leaf form chewed as a mild stimulant – to be removed from the UN’s list of banned substances.
Meanwhile in 2012 Uruguayan President Jose Mujica announced plans to legalise cannabis and regulate its cultivation and supply – and to tax it. Mujica argued that government control would free law enforcement agencies to clamp down on trafficking in cocaine, heroin and other hard drugs.

Under the new deal, Uruguayan citizens over the age of 18, on registration as users, are entitled to buy up to 40g of cannabis for recreational use.
Half of all the US states – 26 of 50 and the District of Columbia – have either decriminalised cannabis for use and possession or made it legal for specific medical and other applications. At the same time, although it remains criminalised by federal law, Washington, Colorado and Rhode Island have legalised the hallucinogenic for recreational use since 2012, and in Colorado it is sold over the counter and taxed by the government.
US President Barack Obama has admitted he smoked cannabis in his youth. He went on to express the opinion that it was less harmful than alcohol and its abuse should be treated as a public health issue.
Dagga seizure and related prosecutions remain the approach of South Africa’s law enforcement authorities.
In a recent report by the Anti-Drug Alliance NGO, some of the implications are teased out, in an analysis of drug busts in Gauteng.
Here around 3 000 arrests were effected, the vast majority for dagga, leading to the seizure of drugs worth R13 million – but in the end leading to convictions in only 9 percent of the cases.
But despite the low conviction rate, the cost of keeping this 9 percent in jail would set the State back R245m, which together with the R38m spent on the arrests themselves pushed the total expenditure to nearly R300m – all this for a tangible yield of only R13m.
The effectiveness of South African law enforcement is also debatable. The bulk of marijuana in the Netherlands is reportedly sourced from this country, and a startling 80 percent of all marijuana traffickers arrested in Ireland in 2012 were South Africans peddling South African product.
In the light of these anomalies, there is a growing call to rethink South Africa’s dagga policy. While President Jacob Zuma has promised to “intensify the war on drugs and succeed”, there is likely to be intensified debate about whether South Africa’s approach to dagga should be liberalised, with the Anti-Drug Alliance noting that a third of respondents in a 2013 survey agreed that cannabis should be legalised, whereas a similar survey the previous year had found less than 10 percent supported it.
Legalised crops could become big money spinner
A ballpark estimate of just how much dagga is grown in South Africa leaves a big question mark.
Official sources are wildly erratic on the subject. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime (Unodac) for instance, records some 6 000 hectares under cultivation in 1992, 2 140 in 1994, then 82 000 in 1995 before slipping back to the low thousands by 2000.
At the same time, however, revenues and exports were noted to have steadily grown, exports increasing between 1991 and 1996 from 15 percent of total production to 70 percent.
So what is this illicit industry worth? An convincing estimate is even more difficult to arrive at.
According to the UN, the average size of a cannabis field in Southern Africa (including the cultivation hubs of Lesotho and Swaziland) is some 300 square metres. Such a field will produce around 10kg of flowing tops, high in the psychotropic tetrahydrocannabinol, and around 25 to 30kg of inferior and lower-priced “majat”.
While the flowering part would fetch far greater returns in Europe and even in South African cities, the UN records that farmers will be paid around R700 for 10kg of flowering top and around R500 for the 25 to 30kg of majat.
The Unodac calculates that each hectare would yield cannabis to the value of around R40 000 on each flowering cycle, with as a many as four in a single year.
By the UN’s calculations, this would mean the average subsistence farmer (on a single flowering) would make R4 800 to R8 000 a year – only a fraction of what the dealer will accrue on the retail market, where dagga will fetch R1 a gram in South Africa and up to five times that amount overseas.
Hydroponic cultivation can take profits to a much higher level, at the same time significantly boosting the drug’s psychotropic effects – to the point where a single plant could yield cannabis to the value of R40 000 in each flowering period. In tunnels where dozens, even hundreds, of plants are cultivated, the profits can be astronomical.
If the law changed, the playing field would be somewhat levelled. The criminal syndicates which control the market and export would be cut out of the equation, and their share largely passed on to the producers – nearly all of them impoverished subsistence farmers. The government would also be in a position to tax the industry which drains the fiscus of billions of rand in policing and fighting a war that many say is already lost.
The government would be in a position to promote research into quality and cultivation as well as facilitate the export of cannabis to centres where it has been legalised, garnering foreign exchange.
Plant has been used for over 8 millennia
Carl Sagan in his Cosmos television series suggested cannabis could have been the first crop husbanded and cultivated.
Apart from the plant’s use as a hallucinogenic, it has for upwards of eight millennia of recorded history been used as a foodstuff, a source for fibres used in rope making, construction and textiles, and a source for pulp used in paper, as well as for the treatment and palliative care of a range of diseases and indispositions.
Originally found in central Asia the cannabis plant gradually found its way to the near East and India before moving on trade routes throughout the world. Possibly 2 000 years ago, but certainly 1 500, cannabis was under cultivation in Egypt and by the 14th century CE used in Ethiopia.
Introduced to Africa by traders, apparently around 1500 CE, marijuana was integrated into the ritual and shamanistic practices of indigenous inhabitants.
A shipment of Angolan slaves unloaded in north- eastern Brazil in 1549, introduced the herb to the New World. It was also in Brazil that one of the earliest acts of prohibition was recorded.
But until the 20th century, cannabis remained relatively uncontroversial. In the early 17th century, King James I commanded that US colonists produce hemp. Cannabis was subject to tax and included in the US’ Pharmacopoeia. Those who produced cannabis in quantity included several of the founding fathers of the US.
In 1915, California became the first state to outlaw possession, and particularly with the influx of Mexican workers it came to be classified as a “dangerous underground drug”.
In 1961, the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs was introduced in the UN, classifying marijuana as a psychoactive drug possessed of “particularly dangerous properties”.
In 2013, the US reinforced its commitment with an above-the-line spend of $3.7 billion (R41bn) on enforcing the law in respect of marijuana, and, below the line, efforts such as continuing to support and fund crop destruction.
When the US introduced legislation banning cannabis for all but very limited industrial and medical uses in 1937, at the same time introducing a stringent tax regime, the moves were lobbied by newspaper and lumber barons, including William Randolph Hearst who also funded and promoted a ferociously anti-marijuana film titled Reefer Madness in the late 1930s. Also powerfully lobbying against cannabis were the tobacco companies as well as pharmaceutical companies. All had much to gain from the marijuana and hemp industry being banned.
In September, Vice Media published a story revealing that several prominent US academics who vigorously opposed the legalisation of cannabis, were in fact on the payroll of pharmaceuticals companies.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cape Flats anti-drug march turns violent

Violence has erupted at Tafelsig in Mitchells Plain on the Cape Flats on Sunday during an anti-drug march organised by the community and People Against Gangsterism and Drugs (Pagad).

The group marched to the houses of alleged drug dealers where cars and houses were stoned.

Pagad co-ordinator, Mogammad Keeran, says in the process of them going through the community, they came across houses of drug merchants and they were approached and asked to stop their activities.

“What transpired is that they decided to react violently against us, there were stones and bricks flying through the air, we had a right to protest ourselves. Our message was very clear we're not stopping this process here today.”


Monday, April 21, 2014

Global Cannabis March 2014


The South African National Cannabis Working Group SANCWG, in collaboration with NORML ZA, hereby informs you about the upcoming Global Cannabis March 2014, taking place on the 3rd of May. Cape Town will be one of 117 cities across Earth taking to the streets to promote awareness of many issues relating to cannabis. The event is sanctioned by the City of Cape Town and arrangements have been made for the police to be present.

Since the beginning of January this year a number of jurisdictions, including Colorado, Washington, Uruguay and Turin, passed ordinances to make cannabis legal for those of adult age. As a result, new economies have been created with economic growth rates outperforming the cellular mobile sales market. This will further motivate public involvement in the cannabis reform process.

In light of the current public discourse, both locally and internationally, and the introduction of the Medical Innovation Bill, the Global Cannabis March creates an opportunity to introduce the faces of the cannabis law reform community to the greater public. Cape Town marchers are calling for the review and reform of current cannabis policies and advocate for public participation backed by rational evidence based policy making. The event will allow for interaction with the media.

March organisers will avail themselves for interviews before the march gets underway between 9:30 and 10 am, media covering the story should use this opportunity to get their soundbites. Provision has also been made for photo opportunities while the march is under way.

Volunteers will be assembling from 8AM. Public gathering at 10.00AM on the corner of Keizersgracht and Chapel Street.

Visit for more information.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

MPs debate virtues of dagga

Cape Town - Everyone knew someone with cancer, and the fear that such a diagnosis caused, MPs agreed in an emotional debate which for once lacked blatant politicking, after IFP MP Mario Oriani-Ambrosini opened on Wednesday’s discussion with a plea for a holistic response to the cancer “pandemic”.

But parliamentarians fretted how best to fight the disease, stopping short of a wholesale endorsement of alternative treatments, like dagga.

Oriani-Ambrosini last month admitted to using dagga, in oil form, as part of his alternative treatment regimen for the aggressive, terminal lung cancer with which he was diagnosed in April last year. His statement during the parliamentary State of the Nation address debate was followed by the tabling of a private member’s bill to allow doctors greater discretion on what treatments to prescribe to terminally ill patients, including bicarbonate of soda and medical marijuana.

Delivering his final speech in Parliament, DA MP Pierre Rabie disclosed both he and his wife are cancer survivors, while DA deputy chief whip Sandy Kalyan paid tribute to a dear friend, who had died at the weekend.

View Cancer and Cannabis
Often struggling to speak Oriani-Ambrosini said cancer knew no political differentiation. “Cancer is not just a health emergency, it’s a societal emergency. We must train our communities, our families, our workplaces...”

This meant creating the space for alternative therapies – including bicarbonate of soda, dagga, alkalising diets and oxygen therapy – to be administered under controlled circumstances. Dagga was a “small segment of what our government can do and must do”, he said, adding that there was a need for centres where alternative treatments could be administered.

He claimed chemotherapy and radiation therapy did not work, and were unaffordable under a national health insurance scheme. “Think of what you would do with your cellphones if (they) did not work 97 percent of (the time),” Oriani-Ambrosini said.

Parliamentary health committee chairman Monwabisi Bevan Goqwana said anything that was medicinal should be used, but the important question was “Is it safe to be used by the people?”

Freedom Front Plus MP Pieter Groenewald said: “We support scientific, controlled research to see what the effect would be if dagga was also used as part of the treatment. I don’t think any one can oppose this”.