Dissecting South Africa’s growing acceptance of cannabis

In South Africa, the acceptance of cannabis is growing. With a population of over 52 million, the country’s unemployment rate stands at a staggering 25%; millions of these disenfranchised are habitual users of tik (crystal meth) while heroin, crack cocaine and other Class A drugs have invaded the families of thousands.

By comparison, cannabis is beginning to look harmless.

Last Saturday, the most recent protest against the decriminalisation of weed was staged on the streets of central Cape Town, a city whose impoverished areas are falling prey to the dangerous effects of Class A stimulants. At the head of the march was the outspoken advocate for marijuana, Johannes Berkhout, and Jeremy Acton, president of the beautifully-named Dagga Party.

Acton, pictured, has long campaigned for the legalisation of marijuana.

Acton was on hand with a quip that advocates of marijuana have always maintained. “No one has ever died of a cannabis overdose.”

One of the most progressive countries in the world, South Africa has been praised for declaring gay marriage legal and often demonstrates progressive attitudes towards thorny societal issues, yet marijuana remains illegal.

And from a policing perspective, the voice of law is clear on their stance. “It does not matter how much marijuana you have, you will be arrested,” said police spokesperson Thembinkosi Kinana. It has not been decriminalised in this country and therefore it remains a criminal offence to even have it on you,” he said.

So why does marijuana, a plant many believe is less harmful than tobacco, remain illegal?

There’s the widespread notion that the government is investigating a way to taxate the drug, and that if it proves too tricky, they’ll similar ignore the issue. Perhaps it’s a symptom of the cogs of beaureacuy turning slowly, but there’s no doubt that unless the drug can be monetised, it won’t be legalised.

That’s a shame, because marijuana has long been used for medicinal purposes, and its adoption in California is proof of the positive attributes it possesses.

Fortunately, the issue is increasingly becoming a part of the nation’s dialogue. Even traditional health bodies selling medical insurance are broaching the issue, as in the case of this article on the subject. Affordable Medical Insurance.co.za is well-known for helping helping provide cost-effective medical cover to South Africans at prices as low as R240 per month (roughly 20 USD).

As South Africa moves further into its infant democracy, one wonders whether marijuana legalization will follow suit.

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