Sanca warns about dangers of dagga
The South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (Sanca) says Tuesday 18 September, the day when Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo ruled that it is not a criminal offence for an adult person to use or be in possession of cannabis in a private space, was a sad day for South Africa.
Denise de Beer, director of Sanca George, says according to a 2017 report by the World Health Organisation, South Africa has the highest percentage of addiction in the world. "The resources to address the needs are few and far between and not adequate."
Sanca warned that not all dagga bought is clean dagga - often it is laced with various other drugs that cause the acceleration of the addiction process, as seen with nyaope (mainly a mixture of dagga and heroin).
Smoking and using cannabis in one's personal space could violate the rights of children in terms of the Children's Act.
The stricter tobacco rules proposed in the Tobacco Draft Bill further contradict this ruling, as it seems that parents could be charged if smoking cigarettes in a vehicle with an under 18-year-old in the car, and that there is a ban on smoking in any enclosed common areas of a multi-unit residence.
Sanca maintains that cannabis is not harmless and could have health consequences. The fact that one third of all patients treated by Sanca used cannabis alone or in combination with other substances testifies to this. International studies strongly support evidence that cannabis is the 'gateway drug' to other substance use and abuse.
An internal study at Sanca confirmed that nearly 60% of clients started with cannabis and then moved to other substances.
Workplaces could see an increase in workplace accidents and loss of productivity due to more employees smoking cannabis.
The occupational Health and Safety
Act is very clear that workplaces must ensure a safe working environment for all employees.
Drug screening of cannabis is more complex than any other substance as it is detected in the body for long periods, making it difficult to determine when the employee has used it last.
Society has the right to decide what is acceptable and what not. Any change in legislation that may have an impact on all the citizens of a country necessitates that the widest possible consultation takes place.
Sanca maintains that the impact of any change in legislation needs to consider the impact on crime, health and welfare, and education.