The friction between cops and rural cannabis growing communities has been a long simmering situation caused by the annual eradication of dagga crops by SAPS helicopters spraying marijuana plantations with the herbicide glyphosate. The Cancer Association of South Africa has added more fuel to the fire by declaring the controversial chemical to be a potentially carcinogenic to humans.
In a fact sheet published by the organisation they have gone into depth about the local environmental and public health impact of the substance, “The Cancer Association of South Africa (CANSA) accepts the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classification of glyphosate as probably carcinogenic to humans.”
“CANSA further accepts research results that indicate that glyphosate could be responsible (among others) for:
- Endocrine disruption
- Increasing the risk of breast and other cancers, including non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma
- Cytotoxic changes (toxic changes to living cells)
- Genotoxic changes (ability to cause damage to the genetic information within a cell causing mutations, which may lead to cancer)
- Teratogenic changes (ability to disturb the development of an embryo or foetus)
- Tumorigenic changes (capable of forming or tending to form tumours)
- Pulmonary oedema (excess fluid in the lungs) in exposed individuals”
This report however flies in the face of the South African Police Service’s questionable view of their crop spraying efforts having “technically zero” effect on the health of animals or humans. It however doesn’t take much stretching of the imagination to see why the SAPS relying on a report issued by an organisation with strong ties to the local glyphosate industry has drawn strong criticism.
Where things get interesting though is where CANSA calls for the cessation of “The indiscriminate spraying of glyphosate on unwanted plants (e.g. cannabis) in rural areas must be discontinued as this indiscriminate spraying results in the destruction of cultivated fields of rural inhabitants which deprives them of self-sufficiency as far as food production is concerned”.
It unfortunately appears that it is going to take a lot more than this fact sheet or the huge public outcry to end the annual cannabis crop spraying as they firmly believe that spraying this likely cancer causing carcinogen has no negative impact on cannabis growing communities or consumers. You need only listen to the words of the cops’ leading authority on the subject to hear that they no intention of backing off, Dr Gerhard Verdoorn, “rather be exposed once-off to glyphosate than smoke dagga — even once.”
“I’m a toxicologist. I’m not stupid. It is a gateway drug — teenagers start out smoking it, then progress to crystal meth. I find it strange that people even entertain the thought of legalising it. When cannabis junkies drive into my car one day, who’s going to pay for it? The government will have to. It will have been them who made it legal.”
It is all good and well for the SAPS or Dr Verdoorn have their own personal views on local cannabis policies. When these personal views and financial interests are used as motives for gambling with the health of the public it is neither good nor well.