OGCT’s take on Day 6 of the trial of the plant (Cannabis) in South Africa
Concluding day 6 of the Trial of the Plant, the North Gauteng High Court was taken into the social impact of the plant and its comparison to tobacco and alcohol overall. We were once again graced by the professional and well-respected Prof David Nutt (UK) taking the stand for the day.
Prof David Nutt was called to pass his expert commentary affirming/denouncing evidence as well as dealing with the defendant’s evidence put forward. Articles making the claim that cannabis is destructive to the brain were unfounded. Prof went on to add that while cannabis does have an effect on the brain, there is no harm is done to the brain. Unlike alcohol that has patently negative effects of both the brain and the body.
We found a recurring source of all the alleged ‘harms’ of cannabis stemmed from the criminalization of the plant. It was raised by the defendant that more potent strains of the plant could have further negative impact on society. It was noted by Prof that it is because of the black market whereon the industry is constrained to operate that we see the increase in potency. The drug dealers strive for a more ‘attractive’ strain and some go as far as to lacing the cannabis with hard drugs that have addictive traits so as to make the consumer ‘addicted’.
Prof had an interesting response to the “gateway drug” theory. Presenting from the novel position of having done the research in the UK regarding the social effects of the plant, not only did he draw interesting conclusions but stated that the “gateway drug” theory was blindly accepted and wide spread through propaganda in the mass media before looking at the behavioral statistics. It was found that it was not the plant that induced the move onto ‘hard drugs’ but it was rather the peer pressure that promoted the move to drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth etc. It was further noted that being exposed to the black market to buy one’s cannabis, one is often then exposed to the harder drugs by the drug dealer who is always looking to ‘push product’ and get the buyer addicted to the harder addictive drugs. The Dutch jumped the gun and allowed the sale of cannabis products from coffee shops so that those looking to buy do not have to be exposed to the illicit black market, which exposes them to far more harms.
It has been observed in the states in the USA where cannabis is legal that there is an increase cannabis use resulting in a decrease in consumption of alcohol. This ripples further into the driving spectrum whereby the use of cannabis affords the driver more care and slower speeds, less inclined to expose themselves to an unduly dangerous driving manner. Unlike alcohol that increases one's impulse to partake in more risky activities like speeding or non-adherence to road rules.
My comment: Weed is going to be used whether it is legal or not. The black market is not a platform that cannabis should be limited to operate on. This market and operation have almost single handed caused immense harm to the users of the plant.
We at OGCT look forward to the court's announcement on the potential for hemp (Cannabis Sativa L) as an industrial crop in South Africa and all the benefits this could have for our nation. This including housing, jobs, food, clothing and the list goes on.