US drug policy expert recommends legalisation of dagga in South Africa

Nicotine is probably the most addictive recreational drug around. Just ask anyone who has ever tried to quit. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), tobacco is the single greatest cause of preventable death globally. The United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention describes tobacco as “the single most important preventable risk to human health and the most important cause of premature death worldwide”.

Yet, tobacco is legal.

Alcohol is not only unhealthy and addictive; it’s also tearing at the fabric of our society. According to the Automobile Association of South Africa (AA), the majority of all fatal accidents are caused by drunk drivers, while the bulk of pedestrians and people who die in motor vehicle accidents were under the influence of alcohol. A South African multi-centre study demonstrated that 78.9 percent of all patients at trauma units with violent injuries tested positive for alcohol. Of all homicides, more than 50 percent were alcohol-related. In South Africa, as elsewhere, when people get drunk, death and destruction all too often reigns.

Yet, alcohol is legal.

The glaring absurdity of a ban on marijuana while the more harmful alcohol and tobacco are tolerated, as well as a host of other very strong policy arguments, has led many to clamour for legalisation.

“The benefits of legalisaton exceed the disadvantages”


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