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Prohibition In A Time Of Medical Cannabis

On 18 September 2018 the Constitutional Court in South Africa ruled that criminalising the possession, use and cultivation of cannabis by an adult to be unconstitutional. Then, in recognition of it's therapeutic benefits, during December of 2020 the UN Commission on Narcotic Drugs under the advice of the World Health Organization removed cannabis from the list of dangerous drugs in the International Convention of Narcotic Drugs of 1961. Considering this and the result of various studies by internationally recognized institutions there can be no disputing the fact that cannabis has medicinal properties. But four years down the line since the decriminalisation of cannabis in South-Africa and the situation is set to go back to the courts as police continue to infringe upon people's civil rights as they shut down growing clubs and confiscate plants. Yet London-based industry analysts Prohibition Partners still estimate South Africa will be one of the top three producers for Africa by 2023 with Nigeria at USD3.7bn, South Africa USD1.7bn, Morocco USD900m, Lesotho USD90m and Zimbabwe at USD80m. "Germany is the single largest market in Europe for medicinal cannabis distribution. The opportunities for distribution in Europe are very big. In addition to that, across borders, in Africa alone, there is a proposition that we have consolidated across a number of different countries all the way from Kenya, to Zambia to Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, as well as in Zimbabwe," says Mr. Herschel Maasdorp of the Labat Africa Group which is listed on the JSE and recently acquired the Eastern Cape-based Sweetwater Aquaponics. Thailand is notoriously strict on drug-related crimes with death penalties for those involved in trafficking of narcotics such as heroin and cocaine. After completely removing cannabis from the country's list of banned substances they have earned the moniker "the Amsterdam of Asia" with have open air cannabis festivals being held in public areas targeting medical as well as recreational cannabis users. The government is now encouraging every household to start growing cannabis for which it is estimated they could earn up to USD12,500 for each yield of 6 plants. They also plan to release 4,000 people convicted for cannabis related charges. This forms part of a strategy to revive the tourism industry which suffered a major decline during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In Namibia's courts cannabis rights activist and president of the Ganja Users of Namibia (GUN) and the Rastafari United Front (RUF) Ras Brian Jaftha challenged prosecutor General Martha Imalwa, asking that all mention of cannabis be removed from the Abuse of Dependence-Producing Substances and Rehabilitation Centres Act of 1971 and that those currently imprisoned for use or possession of cannabis be released and their criminal records be expunged. The case has been postponed to 15 October of 2022. It was then reported that Agriculture minister Calle Schlettwein stated the matter of commercial cultivation of cannabis in Namibia will be a topic of discussion during the 2022 Annual Conference of the Agricultural Economics Association of South Africa (AEASA) being held from the 2nd to 5th of October 2022 at the Strand Hotel in Swakopmund. Meanwhile there are people detained in prison and holding cells across the nation for what is essentially a victimless crime involving a medicinal plant while alcohol and cigarettes result in the deaths of Namibians on a daily basis. The UN Office of Drugs and Crime estimate 3.9% of Namibians use cannabis. This prohibition is empowering criminal organizations by giving them the monopoly on Namibia's cannabis market. It would be far better regulated in the same manner as alcohol which is not for sale to minors and available from licensed vendors because criminalizing the cultivation and use of cannabis by an adult must surely be unconstitutional in Namibia.


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