‘Robin Hood’ out of woods
SHELDON Cramer doesn’t know why he is called the ‘Robin Hood’ of cannabis oil.
“The media gave me that name,” he quips. “But I have made it to the top of the organised crime list more than once,” he says, laughing.
Cramer, who runs the Bobby Greenhash Foundation, produces thousands of bottles of medicinal cannabis oil every day, which are sent across the country to users – often free of charge to those who can’t afford it.
But for more than five years, Cramer says his outfit has been operating in the “underbelly of society in an illegal cannabis industry.
“We’ve been dealing with corrupt politicians, magistrates, prosecutors who are making money out of the system,” he claims.
Today, his foundation is part of the country’s firstever clinical cannabis convention in Joburg.
“Eventually, we’re getting a lot of medical professionals together in one place… We’ve come to a point now where doctors accept the medicinal value but not what cannabis is about.”
His foundation is setting up a scientific research facility into cannabis to work with universities to conduct studies and to document local strains to develop a uniquely African model.
As delegates attended the SA Drug Policy Week, a conference to inform the country’s new national drug master plan by the Central Drug Authority, Cramer says he hopes officials “will see the light”.
“I’m hoping they will start to focus on harm reduction instead of chucking junkies into jail and rehab. “That hasn’t worked.” Shaun Shelly, the founder of the SA Drug Policy Week, says it’s critical that the master plan be robust, evidence-based and appropriate, with alternatives to the “costly and ineffective criminal justice response”.
“Increasingly the criminal justice response to drugs is being challenged.
“People are struggling to come to terms with the apparent impact of drugs on the health and well-being of communities.”
Anand Grover, a commissioner on The Global Commission on Drug Policy, argued that prohibitionist drug policies and practices have failed to achieve the aims of drug conventions of getting rid of drug use, and have rather spawned criminal gangs who drive on the exorbitant profits to be made in the illegal drugs market.