Culture February 1, 2016

Open letter to Mmusi Maimane – Cannabis in South Africa

If you’re on twitter, click the below button to tweet this letter to Mmusi:


Dear Mmusi,

A couple of years ago I penned an open letter to your mentor, Helen Zille. Despite having used all the conventional social media platforms and even the unconventional post office to be heard, I received not so much as an acknowledgement from anyone in the Democratic Alliance. Perhaps I hit a little too close to home or pleaded my case so well that the DA simply had no way of responding without coming across a bit Verwoed’ish. As much as I would like to believe that I’d stumped Helen with my wit and epic facts, the reality is that both Zille and the DA probably couldn’t care less about South Africa’s cannabis culture. So I’m hoping that maybe you’d like to take this opportunity to clear the air a bit.

Sure, you may conveniently stereotype cannabis users as lazy, lay about stoners. You may even go so far as to consider them less than human and deserving of being caged up alongside the rapists and murderers that our beloved country is so well known for. If that is the case, you need not read on. If you are however open to a genuine discussion regarding this relevant topic, rather than harp on about the facts and figures, as I did last time, I would like to change tack and speak frankly with you. I ask only that we please not wallow in the shallow end nor dabble with perspectives founded on the idealism of a “Drug free world” or the altruism of “Cannabis cures cancer”, as these are extreme polar ends of the debate in which no middle ground can be found. Let’s instead use this time to push aside the stigma and take an honest look at the millions of daily cannabis users whom we rub shoulders with every day. Those people who live next door to us, or in our very homes. Those people who are not forced into a life of drug abuse because of their socio-economic circumstances. Those people who are currently vilified for doing nothing more than coming home after a long day at work, kicking their shoes off and smoking a joint or two or three.

Given the saturation of cannabis within our society I would hazard a guess that you know more than just a few of these people. Some who are merely acquaintances and others who are close friends or beloved family members. Deep down, do you believe that they are criminals worthy of imprisonment? Do you truly believe that plucking constructive citizens from our already burgeoning economy, to then financially isolate them with a criminal record that makes them unemployable, is in any way a constructive solution to the the local cannabis conundrum? I hope not.

While Cannabis is unlikely to be a golden egg laying goose that will turn South Africa around, it may very well be an economic aid now when we need it most. At the very least we can begin by calling off the police hounds and create on environment where we have cops on the streets arresting real criminals instead of queuing up for photo opportunities with freshly confiscated ganja. The answers, I accept, will not be simple or cut and paste solutions from other nations. They will be complex, pragmatic and uniquely orientated to our local needs. These are however answers that we can not even begin to obtain until we are able to move beyond the boundaries of mere bickering. There is a deep seeded need to get our hands dirty and tackle the way the forward. So I’ll borrow the sentiment from one of your most recent quotes and apply it from a perspective that remains marginalised.

We cannot build a prosperous future for South Africa when millions of responsible cannabis using South Africans are stigmatised and have no hope, no sense of belonging.

So where do we go from here? Does the DA turn a blind eye and slam the door in our faces, again? Or is there somewhere within the blue folds of the DA that South Africa’s cannabis community can find traction and become a part of the positive change you wish to bring to all?

 

Please help Mmusi Maimane hear our pleads for change by sharing this open letter or tweeting it to him here:


Related news

South Africa’s Finest Smoking Gear

  • Amvios

    Can we trade votes for a single legislation? Which ever party votes it in legislation will get the vote of every young person i know and it would be 300/400 just in my small scope of cannabis users. People with B.pharm, Bsc, B.Ing, Hons and all other kids of successes not usually related to cannabis use

    • Buzz Rsa

      Sometimes wonder if local politicians are more afraid of losing votes by advocating for anything less than a “drug free world”.
      In the USA we are seeing a strengthening will of the people and shift in voters’ views regarding cannabis leading to politicians adopting pro-cannabis stances.
      SA politics sadly appears to have its ideology stuck in the 80’s when it comes to discussing dagga.
      That’s why it’s so important we make ourselves heard by the powers that be.

      • gotohell

        I love the USA. Completely legal in 5 states already! The only US haters seem to be far left totalitarian commies and social conservatives within the USA itself who are now Putin lovers (Mafia boss of Russia and former KGB goon who supports both prohibition and “traditional values”). The USA is on the right track, unless they vote another Republican in office. Republicans are scum.

        • Charl Filipe Henning

          I’m not sure all Republicans are scum. That means half of the US. Not sure I’ll vote DA till they clearly state a fresh opinion on this.

          • Steven

            I would rate that the DA would be more willing to see change than the current government. With the court case later this year it will be interesting and will force change. Abstaining a vote just for this reason just gives the opposition more power. No party in South Africa (which has any traction) will be pro-weed at this time, it is far to ingrained as a bad thing, look at Tim Noakes he’s been vilified despite all the lives he has changed and all the evidence he has presented and all he advocates is eating more like our ancestors. So the best thing is to vote for a party which is not corrupt and then we have a better chance of changing things as there will be less delays and less chance of underhanded plays. No party is going to risk its conservative votes especially with elections coming up. SO VOTE! I hate it when people don’t vote but worry about the state of the country. Its going to be an uphill battle one way or another we might as well make sure we have a better chance of being heard.

  • Bergie

    I have yet to hear any line from the DA other than full prohibition. They go into the townships of their own province, and others, and talk about how they are going to take the down the gangsters and end drug use, yet the problem is as big as ever. There is no politicial will to want change any of the current unjust laws, in fact they seem to want to double down on the plocies we have been inacting for years. More police. More arrests. More money wasted on a war that has been proven to be unwinnable. This political attitude is worrying to say the least and as such I cannot support the DA because as far as I can see, should they gain power, not only would the current laws not change, but they in fact could be implemented with more fervour

    • Buzz Rsa

      I feel you on this, hence the open letter.
      One can only help but wonder what happened to the views held by DA founder Helen Suzman and the others who surely must have been on the same anti-prohibition page as her.

      • Bergie

        So true. Helen Suzmann was fiercly against prohibition. It’s strange that these ideals have been lost. It surely must come down to votes. Do most residents in Cape Town, especially in the poor area’s, realise just how bad prohibition is for their communities or have they been duped into believing that the only way to tackle the problems they face is to keep with the current policies. I can’t help but think that the DA must have members who are aware of the ill’s of prohibition, but becuase of a percieved loss of votes, the leaders blatantly sidestep the issue and continue with the perpetual madness. We really need more honesty on this subject. Thankfully there are people out there like you Buzz who are unable to just let it slide.

    • Steven

      I would rate that the DA would be more willing to see change than the current government. With the court case later this year it will be interesting and will force change. Abstaining a vote just for this reason just gives the opposition more power. No party in South Africa (which has any traction) will be pro-weed at this time, it is far to ingrained as a bad thing, look at Tim Noakes he’s been vilified despite all the lives he has changed and all the evidence he has presented and all he advocates is eating more like our ancestors. So the best thing is to vote for a party which is not corrupt and then we have a better chance of changing things as there will be less delays and less chance of underhanded plays. No party is going to risk its conservative votes especially with elections coming up. SO VOTE! I hate it when people don’t vote but worry about the state of the country. Its going to be an uphill battle one way or another we might as well make sure we have a better chance of being heard. I already posted this but thought I would do so again 🙂 Hopefully encouraging more people to vote.

  • PSYQLOPZ MAGOO

    IT IS THE GOLDEN GOOSE , STONER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Buzz Rsa

      Please humor me by explaining how?

      I believe that it would be irresponsible to sell the idea of cannabis saving SA as there are many facets to consider. All of which will need to first withstand much more than red eyed idealism.
      So come one, please share your economic plan that guarantees Mary Jane will come to the nation’s rescue.

      This open letter applies as much to Mmusi as it does to those who are unable to move past chanting radical pro-cannabis rhetoric.

      • Faultyboy

        It wouldn’t save South Africa per se, but it will create a whole new industry which in turn will create thousands of jobs and bring in some much needed revenue.

    • Rob Van Vee

      Ya, enlighten us (in caps if screaming makes you feel better)

    • mynameiserm

      I think building millions of houses for the people (as promised by the Constitution and by every politician who wants a bit of the gravy) would be waaaaayyyyy easier, cheaper, better for the people and hugely less damaging to the environment,

      Almost a Golden Goose on this one aspect alone I would think?

  • Duncan Johnston

    The poorest of the poor will be the ones to benefit here south African weed is very popular worldwide given our weak rand we would be exporting for dollars. Small subsistence farmers could be surviving by exporting their goods with little need for middle men. Weather cannabis is legal or not smokers are gonna smoke. The best part is the smokers are twice as healthy as drinkers. Cannibis is only illegal because it will damage alcohol sales.

  • Reluctant Activist

    Mr Rsa,
    This is next level wordsmithing
    Thank you
    A

  • Please write a similar letter to the president and remind him about Madiba’s stance

  • CANDIPOT

    As a DA supporter, I really hope the DA will take this issue much more seriously, it’s the one thing I find to be a negative for the DA. Cannabis IS NOT the gateway drug, alcohol is, yet alcohol remains legal even though it ruins lives almost daily. Cannabis leaves you more sober than alcohol, yet more relaxed and in some instances even more capable. In today’s fast pace life no one would bat an eyelid if you said “I have 3 glasses of wine every night to relax before bed”…. but if you said “I smoke half a joint before bed at night a few times a week”, you are labelled a drug addict and a criminal?!?!?! Even though you run 3 successful businesses, have kids, are in a successful marriage for over 10 years etc etc…. tell me then, how is it that you are then a drug addict and criminal? Because the law says so and that’s the only reason you are labeled a drug addict and criminal… no other reason…. Drug dealers use cannabis as a gateway by spiking it with hardcore drugs such as meth, heroine and crack, as well as sell to anyone, including minors!!… take the cannabis out of their hands! If it was sold legally at registered, regulated retailers, the drug dealers would have NO interest in it! Meaning responsible adult use only… no more children smoking cannabis, that’s like a child being sold alcohol! But because it is kept illegal, the drug dealers that are definitely not being regulated and definitely aren’t concerned with moral fiber can sell to a 10 year old if they like, in fact they would probably encourage the 10 year old by giving them their first tik spiked joint for free! No legitimate, reputable, regulated retailer (such as a liquor store) would ever do this, out of fear of being closed down (and because they wouldn’t have tik lol), and with cannabis being legal, regulated and sold at retail outlets, drug dealers will find no profit in it because they would have no one to sell it to, and would drop it as a line. When you think of the drug issue in South Africa, one has to ask yourself – what created a demand for a drug dealer? The answer is prohibition. Drug lords, like any other business men, want to drive profits. So he wants to sell more, to sell more, he must get more customers. And so it began……. people are going to get drunk, stoned or high, this is a fact, it’s happening right now, all over South Africa, at this very moment! Is creating criminals out of them the answer though? It hasn’t worked yet has it!?!?! … People will never be controlled to the extend that the government can control their right to impair their cognitive function, even if the government in it’s perspective deems them to be “washouts”. A poor “washout” doesn’t deserve to have a criminal record just because they are deemed a “washout” who uses drugs. This also only makes him more likely to remain a “washout” and never find his way beyond his “washout” unemployable criminal state. Simply for buying and taking drugs. This is where the DA can make positive change in SA. Unravel this one, find a workable solution. One that will make being a gangster profitless and therefore a waste of time. One that will give drug addicts a chance at getting free one day when they are ready psychologically (I say psychologically because it is the psychological state that drives us to take in any substance, such as alcohol, cannabis and even the harder stuff. When you feel tense and stressed after a hard day of working, driving, cooking etc etc, a glass or 2 of wine for some, helps them to unwind, for some that would be a joint). We treat a runny nose with an antihistamine based drug. We self medicate our psychological state with alcohol or cannabis or for some with harder drugs which are addictive, therefore we are all treating ourselves for a stressed/depressed/anxious psychological state. Is it not very possible that those addicted to hardcore substances are battling with far greater psychological and social issues in their lives, and are in fact in desperate need of psychological help. Not hand cuffs, a dirty cell with hardened criminal and a criminal record! How is a criminal record and meeting hardcore criminals in jail supposed to help these individuals?!?! — we are in catch 22 now though, it has been started, it is happening, an entire criminal network has been created because of prohibition… question is, can we find a solution? I believe we can.