13 Dec Anti Drug Common Sense

Perhaps the last thing you might have expected from an organisation calling itself “The Anti Drug Alliance” is a document supporting cannabis law reform, but that’s what has happened. The Anti Drug Alliance is a South African organisation whose mission statement is

We are an organization that is committed to educating the South African public about the dangers of substance abuse and addiction.

It’s new report entitled ‘At What Cost 2.0 – All Rands and No Sense’ (Download here) doesn’t give the impression of being an anti prohibition document, subtitled as it is “A frank look at the dangers of dagga use, by Quintin van Kerken of the Anti Drug Alliance of South Africa”.

If all of that doesn’t make much sense, it’s useful to know that the South African currency is the Rand (R), made up of cents and ‘dagga’ is the South African word for cannabis.

Prohibition supporters and law reformers reading this document are in for a real surprise as the introduction states

“At What Cost 2.0 – All Rands And No Sense”, follows up on the original “At What Cost?” Report, and besides asking some pertinent questions, this report makes some important points. The Anti Drug Alliance likes to look at harm reduction. As will be explained in this report, we believe that more harm comes from keeping the plant illegal than does from legalising it.

The report doesn’t mince its words. it starts by observing that drug arrests break down into 36 arrests for users for every one arrest of a dealer and dagga (cannabis) arrests account for 61% of drug seizures by weight. It then goes into a breakdown of costs of enforcing prohibition and concludes

That puts the immediate and long term costs of the “drug war” in 2014 / 2015 at a staggering R6,738,515 488.

Which works out at around £279,526,230.

the “war” against dagga ALONE for 2014 / 2015 will cost the taxpayer R3,583,022,142.

Or in UK money the South African war on cannabis is costing them £148,630,462 per anum.

They then look at the likely value of the cannabis trade – how much the cannabis which is produced in South Africa is worth and they come up with a figure of around R1,149,310,000 or £47,675,529. This leads to a simple conclusion:

The total cost of the “war against dagga” in 2014 / 2015 was R3.5 billion, whilst total annual sales only topped R1.1 billion? A logical question here is why are we spending R3.5 billion a year to “fight” something that clearly can never be beaten? Are we not literally flushing money down the toilet?

Anti Drug Alliance logoThe Anti-Drug Alliance of South Africa

The report then looks at the dangers dagga use presents to South African society

Whilst researching this report we tried to find reliable and realistic figures that could directly attribute deaths to dagga in South Africa. We could not find any.

They then look at the arguments most often used against legalisation:

• cannabis is a gateway drug
• cannabis is highly addictive
• cannabis causes schizophrenia
• legalising cannabis will increase use

The evidence is discussed at some length and the conclusion reached is

Well, this is simply NOT the case.

They then discuss the addictive potential of dagga and conclude

The fact is cannabis can be misused or abused. The fact is that people could become dependent on it. But that fact rings true for just about any substance or action. Any scientist will tell you that. However, on any given day, the chances of someone who uses dagga breaking into your home to steal your television to support his habit is close to zero. If we had to use crystal meth or heroin as an example, well, those figures would be exponentially higher.

And so we arrive at the stunning – if entirely logical – conclusion of the Anti-drug alliance

It simply does not make sense to keep cannabis illegal anymore. Science has proven it less harmful and safer than alcohol or sugar, and more beneficial than many medicines the doctors prescribe.

Judging from the way its looked at the evidence it’s reasonable to conclude the the South African “Anti Drug Alliance” is a truly objective organisation, concerned about an issue but willing to look at the evidence rather than blindly supporting the mantra of “drug control” as promoted by the prohibition regime.

This isn’t an organisation that can be considered “pro cannabis” in any way and is motivated by a desire to reduce the harms associated with drug use but it has realised that the present regime, at least in respect of cannabis – is no way to reduce those harms. it is to be congratulated on the way it’s looked at the evidence and is willing to speak out in such a clear and, frankly, unexpected way.

A change of name might be an idea though.