Doctors For Life International (DFL) says it is deeply concerned by the judgment of the Western Cape High Court last Friday that allows, subject to legislation to be passed in the next 24 months, the private growing and use of Cannabis sativa (dagga) at home.
The court has rushed into an area they should only tread into after reviewing systematic, evidence-based research which the Pretoria High Court was set to do in August 2017, according to a press release by DFL, an international, Christian-based network of over 1 500 medical doctors and specialists, predominantly from South Africa. It says the Pretoria High Court was set to do in August 2017.
In its ruling, which was welcomed by pro-dagga activists, the Western Cape High Court also said that parliament must change sections of the Drug Trafficking Act, as well as the Medicines Control Act.
Responding to the court’s go-ahead to the use of dagga at home, DFL says that what people do with Cannabis in the privacy of their homes is relevant to the whole of society, firstly because of the semi-long-term effects of Cannabis that last up to 21 days after ingestion. It says the effects include poor coordination and slowed reaction time, etc. which can lead to fatal traffic and work place accidents.
Secondly, DFL says, the decision has consequences for the youth. It will be difficult to prevent children from being exposed to the smoking of cannabis and its detrimental health consequences such as impaired verbal IQ, memory, reduced decision making and an increased prevalence of psychosis later in life.
The DFL press release says the drop in IQ has been thoroughly researched. IQ drop was demonstrated if dagga is used and users quit before 18 years of age, and is highest when used before age 18 and users are still addicted at the age of 38, DFL says. IQ drop is associated with the length of time addiction.
During the teenage years the brain is especially vulnerable because it prunes unneeded connections, grows in size, wires cortical dopamine circuits, strengthens connections and reorganises brain function as a whole, says DFL. Furthermore, the experience of the US state of Colorado, where recreational dagga use has been legal since 2012, clearly shows an increase in emergency admissions to hospitals due to small children ingesting cannabis by mistake, DFL says.
DFL maintains that there is no doubt that any cultivation of Cannabis Sativa, even for research purposes, can have serious public health consequences and that it should be properly regulated by legislation.