Don’t blame Popcru for propos­ing that we go to pot legally


POPCRU’S pro­posal to have dagga le­galised will come as bad news to all those dealers whose prof­its de­pend on or­di­nary users too afraid to grow their own back­yard plants.

The in­dus­try can only sur­vive so long as smok­ing pot is a crim­i­nal of­fence.

Nat­u­rally the Po­lice and Pris­ons Civil Rights Union is open to ridicule. So let me be one of the first to poke fun at its at­tempt to weed such crim­i­nals out of busi­ness. Af­ter all, every­one has got to live.

Will Popcru stand for Po­lice Or­der Pot Con­sump­tion: Re­ally Ur­gent?

But now that the po­lice have a min­is­te­rial green light to shoot dead all the real bad­dies, it seems a pity that they should con­tinue wast­ing valu­able trig­ger time chas­ing af­ter peo­ple who sim­ply wish to spend a few hours ris­ing above life’s bur­dens in a haze of sweet-smelling smoke.

Not every­one will rush to light up a zol. A lot of kids have no de­sire to try out pot the mo­ment they are old enough to get off one. But why stop adults keen to see whether dagga leaves them feel­ing any worse than an al­co­hol-in­duced hang­over?

Per­haps all South Africans should be re­minded of the warn­ing in a 1966 crim­i­nol­ogy text­book. It de­clared: “In ex­treme cases, mar­i­juana can so de­stroy a man’s char­ac­ter that he mixes freely with per­sons of an­other race.”

The coun­try might have been in a far hap­pier state by now had every­one been al­lowed to go to pot in the mid­dle of the last cen­tury.

I once tried it my­self at a party, but be­ing a non-smoker I didn’t in­hale, and it had no ef­fect. I quite en­vied one of my friends who sud­denly thought he was Sammy Davis ju­nior and started do­ing a soft-shoe shuf­fle. If Popcru has its way, how­ever, I may give dagga an­other chance.

You don’t drive if you’ve in­gested dagga. A col­league of mine once did, and told me af­ter­wards he had spent what seemed like half-an-hour pass­ing the same house. This is a ter­ri­ble thing to hap­pen to you if you’re in a hurry, but use­ful if you are try­ing to kill time and don’t re­ally want to reach your des­ti­na­tion.

Popcru says its mem­bers should be freed up to con­cen­trate on se­ri­ous crime, but I sus­pect that some po­lice en­joy hunt­ing rook­ers. It’s much eas­ier than con­fronting hooded men armed with AK-47s.

Some years ago a young man cul­ti­vated dagga plants on the roof of his mother’s house just be­low Rhodes Av­enue, near Kirsten­bosch, and told her he was grow­ing toma­toes.

But some­one rat­ted on him. His mother was ter­ri­fied when a string of po­lice cars screamed to a halt out­side and their oc­cu­pants leapt out, armed to the teeth. He was hauled off like a ter­ror­ist. One of South Africa’s most re­spected ac­tivists and neu­rol­o­gists, the late Dr Frances Ames, fought to have dagga legally pre­scrib­able, es­pe­cially for the ef­fec­tive treat­ment of mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis. Her hus­band, David Cas­tle, a Cape Times leader writer, died a year af­ter I joined the pa­per, and I never had a chance to ask him if he par­took of pot.

I know he drank, like the rest of us. It can do you just as much harm, but isn’t as yet a crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity.

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