Legalising illegal drugs would exacerbate South Afica’s drug problem, said African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) Member of Parliament and Health spokesperson, Cheryllyn Dudley in the National Assembly today.
Calling on the Government to promote awareness of harmful effects of dagga she said: “In response to recent polls and suggestions that ‘legalisation and regulation of the sale of dagga could reduce the negative impact of the criminal drug trade’, the ACDP has raised concerns that the serious problems facing our country due to abuse of alcohol and illegal drugs will not be seriously dealt with, if reduced to a matter of whether or not dagga should be legalised.
“The tragic impact on individuals, families and communities experienced and witnessed daily will not stop until this government gets serious about crushing the drug trade from every angle – making illegal drugs legal – will only exacerbate the problem.”
She said: “Cannabis advocates, allege benefits of marijuana use with little or no scientific basis. Dagga contains chemicals that affect the brain, heart, and lungs slowing down the central nervous system and stays in the body for weeks stored in fat. It is addictive, causes decreased motivation resulting in poor achievement, can adversely affect fertility and causes negative social behaviour at home and at school.
“In addition smoking any substance causes the smoker to inhale cancer causing substances. It is for that reason that no medicine is administered by smoking it.
“The legal status of marijuana was downgraded in Britain in 2005 to a less dangerous Class C drug, in 2008 the legal status of marijuana was re-upgraded again to a more dangerous Class B drug. And Holland is backtracking after having legalized cannabis for some years – once legalized, the government was unable to separate the criminal element in the drug trade from the legal cannabis trade.
“To say that ‘legalisation and regulation of the sale of dagga could reduce the negative impact of the criminal drug trade in our country’ is in our opinion irresponsible, and the ACDP calls on government to do all it can to promote awareness of the harmful effects of this substance which apart from everything else will negatively impact on productivity levels in our society.
“The ACDP regards legalisation and regulation of the sale of dagga as a defeatist approach to the drug trade presently taking a terrible toll on our country.”