Dagga not a gate­way drug, says UK ex­pert

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS - GOITSEMANG TLHABYE

THE the­ory that cannabis is a gate­way drug is noth­ing more than a scare tac­tic; if any­thing it may have pro­tec­tive prop­er­ties, Bri­tish psy­chi­a­trist and neu­ropsy­chophar­ma­col­o­gist David Nutt said yes­ter­day.

It was the sixth day of the trial look­ing into the le­gal­i­sa­tion of mar­i­juana in the high court in Pre­to­ria. Nutt told the court that the the­ory of the sub­stance be­ing a gate­way to harder drugs had been used re­peat­edly and un­jus­ti­fi­ably.

He said: “The the­ory of it be­ing a gate­way sim­ply states that if some­one uses the drug, then they would eas­ily move on to harder drugs. But there is no ev­i­dence to that ef­fect. If any­thing, it is the so­cial fac­tor and pro­hi­bi­tion of cannabis that be­comes the gate­way.”

Nutt said he be­lieved hav­ing the drug re­garded as il­le­gal moved it to the black mar­ket and any­one look­ing for it would con­se­quently be­come ex­posed to drug deal­ers ped­dling harder drugs.

This was be­cause they wanted those com­ing to them to be­come hooked and as such would of­fer users sam­ples with the cannabis.

The pro­fes­sor cited the Dutch model, which saw pros­e­cu­tion of cannabis users sus­pended and made the drug avail­able in cafés, thus elim­i­nat­ing the chances of their youth com­ing into con­tact with drug deal­ers.

Dr Raquel Peyraube, a spe­cial­ist in prob­lem­atic use of drugs from Uruguay, said she was pleased that South Africa was tak­ing the first steps in mak­ing a pos­i­tive change to leg­is­la­tion gov­ern­ing cannabis.

PIC­TURE: BONGANI SHILULBANE

SAY NO: Pro­test­ers out­side the high court in Pre­to­ria yes­ter­day.

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