Newsbrief: South Africa to Reject Marijuana Decriminalization 9/17/04

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South Africa's lead anti-drug agency, the Central Drug Authority, has released a draft paper rejecting the decriminalization of marijuana, or "dagga" as the herb is locally known, the Johannesburg Sunday Times reported. The paper will guide the country's marijuana policy as part of the National Drug Master Plan until 2009.

According to draft paper lead author, Dorothy Malaka, a social work lecturer at the University of the North, such reforms would be premature. "Although there is a case for decriminalizing cannabis, it would be a mistake at this stage," she said. "Developed countries like the Netherlands have decriminalized cannabis, but it is a new policy and the effects of it have not yet been tested," Malaka asserted -- roughly twenty years after cannabis cafes first began booming in Amsterdam.

Another Central Drug Authority member, David Bayever, a lecturer in pharmacotherapy at the University of Witwaterstrand, told the Times he opposed legalization, saying there was evidence linking crime and substance abuse. The social service system could not manage the increase in users if pot were legalized, he added.

While the draft paper nixed the idea of decriminalization, it did recommend more research on marijuana's uses as a medicine. Malaka told the Times dagga has proven therapeutic uses, citing its use in Canada and the US.

Not everyone involved in drafting the paper was opposed to decriminalization or legalization. Professor Charles Parry, director of the Medical Research Council's Alcohol and Drug Abuse Research Group, told the Times liberalizing cannabis controls would result in considerable law enforcement savings.

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Issue #354, 9/17/04 Editorial: What Is It About Opium? | Canada Cannabis Cauldron Bubbling Again | DEA Brings Traveling "Drugs = Terror" Exhibit to NYC as City Commemorates 9/11 Anniversary | Drugs and Sports: A New Arena for Drug Reformers? | Newsbrief: In Gotham Shocker, New York Post Calls for Repeal of Rockefeller Laws | Newsbrief: Drug Reformer Challenger Defeats Hard-Line District Attorney in Albany, New York | Newsbrief: Yes, Four Ounces of Marijuana at Home is Legal, Says Alaska Supreme Court | Newsbrief: Drug Czar Attacks Oregon Medical Marijuana Initiative | Newsbrief: Oakland Poll Shows Strong Support for Legalization of Marijuana | Newsbrief: South Africa to Reject Marijuana Decriminalization | Newsbrief: More Drug Executions in Iran, Saudi Arabia | Newsbrief: This Week's Corrupt Cops Story | Newsbrief: Mexico Shuts Down Three "Youth Treatment" Centers, Deports Kids Back to US | The Reformer's Calendar

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