During a presentation to Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADC-PF), experts on narcotic drug usage in Africa implored parliamentarians to consider decriminalising illicit substances. Considered to be the most commonly used drug within all of the member nations, cannabis law reform was cited as a pivotal part in beginning to move away from the ineffective policies of the past that continue to haunt us in the present.
The drug problems of Africa are a far cry from those of countries such as as Portugal whom for over a decade now have decriminalized all drug use, leading to significant reductions in consumption and abuse. This was something that Kunal Naik from Mauritius cited, among the many other effects experienced by Portugal’s health based approach toward users. Reductions in prison incarceration and HIV/AIDS rates were perhaps the two points that struck closest to home for attendees who well know the ongoing pains felt by Africa due to the massive roles these two aspects continue to play in our respective nations.
Wilson Box, Executive Director of Zimbabwe Civil Liberties and Drug Network, addressed the segregation of drug users and how isolating them from society would never be a solution. Stating, that a “People who use drugs are isolated and stigmatised and at times isolated without any help extended to them” and that a ““narcotic drug use-free world is a pipe dream”, Wilson probably captured the core of the matter when addressing the need for treatment and the proximate causes of substance abuse to be the priorities that drive Southern African drug policies ““Drug users need compassion, love and care,”
One of the symptoms of addiction is denial, something that local drug officials clearly have a chronic case of. Any true reform has long been kicked down the road by politicians and policy makers whom are oblivious to their anti-drug addiction. Thankfully, experts and professionals in the field are intervening to hopefully bring local governments to their senses.