High Court on Dagga
6 April 2017
The Hemp, Dagga, Weed, Herb, Marijuana and a plant by any other name, Industrialisation report back presentation was full of positive excitement. Medicines, clothing, paper among the thousands of uses, its dubious illegality and its economics were discussed at a workshop in Pretoria.
The moot point of, benefits of hemp was examined to point out its socio/eco impact. Who would benefit from legal hemp?
South Africa is a stable country, largest economy in Africa, first world financial system perfectly engineered. Contrary to popular belief it is very easy to do business with South Africa, note the number of multinational corporations and conglomerates that are hosted here in South Africa. They have the legal and financial clout in a country that is constitutional democracy and conducts business as an open market.
Legalise it sure, but be cautious of creating a cannibal instead of a cannabis industry. The annoyed gardener said “I just gave it water” by implication making the point that the hemp plant grew on its own in the sunshine and nutrients from the earth.
Many nations who have legalised hemp are attesting to the impact of legalising, and starting to realise the value of a plant that may have close to 100 000 uses if its medical properties are taken into account.
Deregulation can play a vital catalytic role to drive innovation and enterprise. The lessons learned in overregulation, particularly for start-ups and small enterprise showed that not only can regulation be prohibitive but persecutory as well. The idea is to let the industry take the lead and let government do its facilitation role and let regulation emerge organically.
Not everyone in South Africa is interested in growing hemp, let alone smoke it. Realistically, there is a consumer for cosmetic or wellness products, clothing and fashion and those that will probably be in the majority, will use hemp for relaxation and recreation.
The unofficial figure of the illegal trade of hemp is around R3.5 billion. What unofficial contribution does it make to the country’s GDP and fiscus, are the employers who grow and produce hemp calculated in the statistic report as being unemployed? What is the cost of the process of arrest and prosecution of hundreds of people daily for hemp? Worse still, what is the impact of spraying chemical retardants on hemp crop, a chemical which taints other crop rendering them inedible and poisoning the soil, making it unsuitable for farming.
On March 31st the Western Cape High Court has ruled that Parliament must change sections of the Drug Trafficking Act‚ as well as the Medicines Control Act to allow the private use of dagga in the home.