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Getting the govt on track regarding cannabis debate

A four – point landscape analysis on getting government back on track regarding the Cannabis debate.

By Gloria Ndoro-Mkombachoto

It is always a breath of fresh air when government acknowledges publicly that they made public a policy that they had poorly conceived. It was a relief and reassuring hearing from government that the policy direction they had issued hardly three weeks ago, decriminalising cannabis cultivation, which had been generally well received by the public, was ill-conceived and therefore incomplete.

Government announced that they needed to go back to the drawing board because they had not conducted enough consultations, nor done adequate research, the basis of which they would draw their own parameters for the issuance of licences. As Alexander Pope said “to err is human, to forgive divine”.

We hope the consultation and research process is well underway and as the issuance of licences to grow this wonderful and multi-healing medicinal plant has been put on ice, its decriminalisation stays in place. Herb.co in a March 9 2018 report written by Michelle Janikian sufficiently defines the differences. “What is decriminalisation? Unlike legalising weed for recreational or medicinal use, decriminalisation makes it so that the possession for “personal use” the cannabis is no longer a punishable offence.” But having done so, those with the licences to grow and consume recreationally must do so at home within their private spaces.

Throughout the world, governments have tried to criminalise the growth, use and sale of cannabis also known marijuana, but when it is deeply ingrained in people’s traditions, cultures, spirituality and for recreational use and economic benefit, it becomes difficult to monitor, limit and control.

Cannabis has been illegal in Zimbabwe for centuries yet it is grown illegally across the country for recreational use and remains an important source of income for many families.

What is known throughout the world is, when you legalise cannabis and allow for its growing for recreational use within the precincts of one’s home, its black market price plummets and so does the market for its illegal trading.

So as the authorities get their act together, it might be advisable that they proceed to issue licences specifying the square metres for home cultivation and private use only. The licences must be a mere formality and be handed out quickly and swiftly so that there is a critical mass in the country growing cannabis for recreational use.

Below are some landscape thinking points to get government back on track without delay so that the decriminalisation of cannabis and the issuance of licences are resumed without delay.

• Tolerance levels for cannabis for all uses vary, but it deepens on varieties consumed

There is no doubt that cannabis causes psychosis in some, not all people. In fact, those who cannot handle cannabis oil for medicinal reasons are advised to take it just before bed. On the whole, that is no reason not to legitimise it everywhere for medical and recreational use. But government needs to be well-versed on the different varieties available, the source of the seeds and the difference between those for commercial and recreational use. For that reason, the government does not need to waste time and money doing a feasibility study. It can piggy-back on the experience and track record of other countries. For example, sources of vital information could include India, Afghanistan, Lesotho, South Africa, the United States of America, Italy, New Zealand, Spain and the Netherlands to just name a few, as indicated in the Table 1 below:

Table 1

#

Countries with the largest hectares under cultivation
Cannabis Use
Status
Legal/
Illegal

#
Countries that consume the largest cannabis

Cannabis Use
Status
Legal/
Illegal
11
India –
Is the motherland of cannabis and where all the different strains of marijuana originated.

Source:
Greendorphin.com
Isack Cole, December 7, 2016
Medical, recreational and religious purposes, cannabis has always been a part of the culture. Dates back to more than 1000 years.
Source:
Greendorphin.com
In reality you will find cannabis almost everywhere in India.
Source:
Cannabis.info January 26/2018
The production, sale and possession of any form of medicinal marijuana products is technically illegal in India, unless it is meant for some specific traditional preparations.

Source:
Cannabis.info January 26/2018
1
United States

Source:
Greendorphin.com
Isack Cole, December 7, 2016
Recreational and medicinal use by 15.4% of its population
The country that introduced medicinal cannabis to the world
Legalized in 24 but not yet all states. the state of Colorado is the only state that legalized marijuana at recreational level.

Source:
Greendorphin.com

Afghanistan
Produces the largest yields per hectare in the world 1,500 to 3,500 tons of cannabis a year.

Source:
Greendorphin.com
Isack Cole, December 7, 2016
High grade medical and recreational cannabis widely available.

Source;
Cannabis.info – Legal status of marijuana in Afghanistan
Strictly illegal, yet Afghanistan may be the source of some of the world’s most popular marijuana strains.

Source;
Cannabis.info – Legal status of marijuana in Afghanistan
2
Italy

Source:
Greendorphin.com
Isack Cole, December 7, 2016
Licensed cultivation for medical and industrial use is strictly regulated

Source:
Wikipedia.org – Cannabis in Italy

But 14.6% of the country’s total population smokes marijuana as a recreational and medicinal drug.

Source:
Greendorphin.com
Cultivation & sale and use of cannabis products is illegal, even if in small amounts & for exclusive personal use.
Source:
Wikipedia.org – Cannabis in Italy

Africa the Continent
Like India, cannabis remains deeply ingrained in African tradition, recreation and economies but African governments have tried to limit and stop its use.
It is almost illegal everywhere in Africa, but an important source of income. Levels of tolerance and law enforcement related to cannabis vary from country to country.
Source: moguldom.com
Dana Sanchez, October 12, 2015

New Zealand

Source:
Greendorphin.com
Isack Cole, December 7, 2016
Predominantly recreational
Illegal but the country is drawing up legislation for medicinal use.
Source:
newshub.co.nz
12/02/2018

Lesotho
It was the first one in Africa to issue a licence to a local subsidiary of the South Africa firm Verve Dynamics the right to cultivate, manufacture, supply, export and transport Cannabis and Cannabis products from Lesotho. 
Source: iol.co.za
13th October 2017

Medical cannabis for export

Still illegal in for recreational use although people grow and use it illegally

Africa the continent

Mainly for recreational, cultural and economic survival.
Mostly illegal across the continent. A few countries reviewing their policies with a view to taking a phased decriminalizing approach particularly for medicinal use.

South Africa
A medicinal cannabis dispensary opened in Durban North on Wednesday 16th May, 2018 will set a benchmark to lobby for the legalization of the plant for medicinal use.
Source: iol.co.za
17th May 2018
Medicinal and recreational use
Cultivation for medicinal use by corporates a grey area but individuals are allowed to cultivate for recreational use within their home compounds.
Medical cannabis still illegal in SA but one can get a licence for to grow for recreational use within the confines of their home.

Spain

Source:
Greendorphin.com
Isack Cole, December 7, 2016

Mainly for recreational use for 10% of its total population

Source: Kush Tourism – Spain Marijuana Information
The sale of cannabis is illegal, but the cultivation & consumption is legal. Private possession of marijuana has been legal in the country for years.

The Netherlands

Cultivation and sale allowed in February 2017 but under government supervision to help fight criminality and enable quality checks on cannabis crops and allow authorities to levy taxies on what has become a multi million euro industry.
Source: dw.com
21/02/2017
Recreational and medicinal use

Source:
Theculturetrip.com
21st September 2017
Tom Coggins
Illegal but tolerated by law enforcement meaning that laws surrounding consuming cannabis are rarely enforced and the drug has effectively been decriminalised since the 1970s.

Because most of the cannabis grown in the world is grown illegally, no one knows for sure of the hectarage under cultivation.
There are unconfirmed reports that a foreign company has already been allowed to grow cannabis for export in one of the provinces in Mashonaland. To date, it is alleged that they have spent over $30 million in investment. The farm is supposedly a fortress with state of the art security and guards patrolling 24/7 on horseback with guns.
If it is true that this operation exists in Zimbabwe, this could very well be a great source of information on indicators like yields per hectare, variety under cultivation, its source, other inputs, labour requirements, security costs and so forth and so on.

• The economies of countries that have unbanned cannabis use have boomed due to distribution, production and consumption of the crop.

Cannabis is not a vice but a cash crop that stands to have mutual benefit for both government through tax collection, growers through exports and processors through new product development like medicine, hardware products etcetera. For the users, Medical Doctor Sarai, writing for btl.co.za in an article posted on January 3, 2011 on Arguments for the Legalization of Marijuana in South Africa, argued, “Marijuana is vastly safer than alcohol… Unadulterated, regulated marijuana will contain absolutely no artificial substances – no naphthalene, no cyanide… Tell me ONE person you know or can think of who has ever died due to marijuana. Even ONE. Search the records, come back to me with evidence – I’m a doctor, I know how to interpret that stuff! I will conclusively prove that there has never been a death due to marijuana. Then go and look at how many people die of squamous cell lung carcinoma, and think a little bit.” She further submits, “…Marijuana calms (some) people the hell down. It is a relaxant, it is soothing and it allows you to extend your consciousness beyond the mere self. It is like meditation, except from an external source. A country too plagued by HIV and AIDS should be embracing this opportunity to provide widespread treatment to millions of people affected. The benefits of marijuana for chronic, terminal illness are well-known.”

Although still illegal in the majority of countries in Africa, many children’s education has been funded by their parents growing cannabis illegally.

• Cannabis can be a gateway drug to harder drugs

People with a predisposition to mental illness would have to be screened and excluded, including age restrictions on recreational use. According to US based award winning SA journalist and writer Charlene Smith, “Cannabis can be a gateway drug to harder drugs. Wine and beer are also gateway alcohol to harder liquor like vodka and tequila. There will always be those who abuse (the opportunity). But while alcohol has no medicinal function that I know of (aside from pure alcohol to clean wounds), marijuana has multiple uses from use in fabrics to medicine. It’s time to unban it globally.” Cannabis is also safer than cigarettes.

Be that as it may, policing becomes vital to control those awarded licenses to comply and operate within the confines of the licensing regulations. Transformation of the current police service is necessary having inherited an institution that had almost completely become rogue.

• Beware of the dangerous GMO varieties

Big Pharma is also heavily investing in this business. Beware where you seek advice from. It is going to be hard to keep Big Pharma out of this business because the more people get cured by cannabis, the more their supernormal profits will be compromised. Hence their need to have major investments across the globe in cannabis production. Efefiong Akpan, writes, on May 19th 2018 replying to a comment on Charlene Smith’s Facebook wall, “Has anyone mentioned the side effect of weakening heart walls? Many soon will die from GMO DAGGA! The same Big Pharma will weigh in with evil intentions on this beautiful plant.” So for the government of Zimbabwe, the best seeds and varieties are likely to come from India and Afghanistan. North America and South African farmers, it would appear, have already been captured by the GMO brigade.

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