The walls of cannabis prohibition are tumbling in a truly biblical fashion. With barely time to catch our breath after last week’s back to back viral headlines, the Western Cape Deputy Police Commissioner joined the growing local chorus of government and opposition parties calling for a drug policy review.
In a Facebook post that Jeremy Vearey has since publicly defended, he makes his views regarding the War on Drugs crystal clear, “In my experience as a police officer on the Cape Flats at the receiving end of the rhetorical war on drugs, I have heard many doctors, police officers, parents of addicts and addicts like those of Merseyside and Widnes speak the same language on how to deal with the drug problem and the failed war on drugs. Perhaps it’s time to listen to them, instead of those who talk about, for and on behalf of them, without really hearing them.”
This statement from the seasoned police officer who has earned his stripes in the South African community with the highest amount of drug related crimes in the country, Mitchells Plain, deftly strikes so many of the legalisation dynamics currently playing out in our nation. In the last 2 months we’ve seen the people calling for legalisation, the Economic Freedom Fighters calling for dagga nationalisation, the Central Drug Authority recommending cannabis decriminalisation, the Inkatha Freedom Party fighting for medical marijuana monopolisation and now a front line War on Drugs veteran appealing for law rationalisation.
Emerging not far behind the news of Mr Vearey’s remarks, we saw the South African National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence again flip flop on the organisation’s drug policy stance when spokesperson Adrie Vermeulen seemed in favour of the now increasingly popular opinions supporting change, “The focus is not where it should be, it should be on prevention. It starts with our communities and families… We’re putting a Band-Aid on the problem.”
Strangely absent from the debate are the African National Congress and Democratic Alliance. These two dominant political forces are yet to change their archaic view on the question of illicit substances, the minority of people who abuse them and the majority who don’t. The National Department of Social Development spokesperson, Lumka Oliphant, commented that “Law enforcement is also requested to strengthen their role to deal with the supply of drugs.” and called Vearey’s statement “unfortunate”.
The dwindling ranks of prohibition disciples are steadily eroding as more and more of them make the drug policy reform migration. Thankfully prominent supporters are now coming out of the closet, making it easier for others to take comfort from this and also publicly lend their voices to this burning issue.