Africa: Swaziland Marijuana Growers Unstoppable, Police Say 6/17/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!


http://stopthedrugwar.org/chronicle/391/swaziland.shtml

The world's leading industrial democracies agreed this week to cancel some $40 billion in debt owed by African nations in an effort to jump-start the continent's ailing economies. But while the impact of ponderous macro-level reforms will take time to trickle down, farmers in the southern African kingdom of Swaziland are making micro-level decisions to grow marijuana crops now, and local police say they can't stop them.

From high in the kingdom's remote northern mountains comes "Swazi Gold," a potent variety sought after in consumer markets in nearby South Africa, which completely surrounds the New Jersey-sized country, as well as Europe and North America. For Swazi farmers, marijuana, or "dagga," as it is commonly known in southern Africa, is a crop worth growing, despite police raids and herbicide spraying. Smugglers will pay farmers about $150 a kilogram (2.2 pounds), a significant amount in a country where the average annual income hovers around $1500.

That same "Swazi Gold" will sell for about $11 an ounce in Johannesburg or Capetown, according to a Reuters report this week. By the time it makes its way to the coffee shops of Amsterdam, it goes for $7.50 a gram.

Swazi law enforcement finds itself fighting a losing battle as it butts up against dagga's profitability. "We can't win this war," said Ngwane Dlamini, head of criminal investigation in the northern region of Hhohho. "This is just a drop in the ocean," he said as he showed Reuters a field that had been discovered and destroyed. "The people are poor and they can get much more money for marijuana than maize or vegetables," he said.

According to Swaziland's Council Against Drug and Alcohol Abuse, 70% of farmers in the Hhohho region are growing dagga for the domestic and international market. Local officials blame drought and point to the mountainous terrain, which makes maize-growing difficult. But a Hhohho women named Khanyesile provided a more direct reason. As Reuters put it, her non-dagga earnings consisted of "a patchy income selling shiny stones to tourists at the side of the road."

"My husband died and I lost my job at the local furniture factory," said Khanyesile. "I needed money to feed my five children and send them to school." She has been jailed and fined for her dagga, she said, police have twice sprayed her field, and thieves stole her crop once just before harvest. For Khanyesile and her family, the black market in dagga is the only shot at economic survival. "You can't get money for maize... and it is difficult to grow, but a man from South Africa comes every month to buy my dagga," she said. She and her neighbors grow dagga and sell it jointly to the South African buyer to minimize his risks, she said. "I don't understand why the police want to stop us growing dagga -- it is the only way we can make money."

"It is everywhere. At every stream or river the banks are full of dagga," said Inspector Dlamani. That's not surprising. Not only has dagga become a valuable cash crop, it has a long history of acceptance in Swaziland, where it has been smoked for centuries by farmers and used as medicine by healers. Even the chief of his home village smoked a pipe of dagga twice daily, Dlamani noted, before returning to the fruitless fight.

-- END --
Link to Drug War Facts
Please make a generous donation to support Drug War Chronicle in 2007!          

PERMISSION to reprint or redistribute any or all of the contents of Drug War Chronicle (formerly The Week Online with DRCNet is hereby granted. We ask that any use of these materials include proper credit and, where appropriate, a link to one or more of our web sites. If your publication customarily pays for publication, DRCNet requests checks payable to the organization. If your publication does not pay for materials, you are free to use the materials gratis. In all cases, we request notification for our records, including physical copies where material has appeared in print. Contact: StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network, P.O. Box 18402, Washington, DC 20036, (202) 293-8340 (voice), (202) 293-8344 (fax), e-mail [email protected]. Thank you.

Articles of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of the DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.

Issue #391 -- 6/17/05

Drug War Chronicle, recent top items

more...

recent blog posts "In the Trenches" activist feed

SUBSCRIBE TODAY!!!

Feature: House Move to Ban Funds for Federal Raids on Medical Marijuana Patients Gains Support, but Falls Short | Feature: Another "Drug Related" Death -- Austin Policewoman Kills Unarmed Teen | Feature: US Has More Than a Million People Living with HIV, Government Says -- as it Ignores Prevention for Drug-Related Cases | Feature: Creepshow -- A Disturbing Glimpse into DEA Mentality | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Medical Marijuana: Rhode Island Bill Approved in House Committee, Faces One Last Vote, But Governor Vows Veto | Medical Marijuana: Hawaii Federal Prosecutor Backs Off | Policing: Philadelphia DA Disbands Drug Unit | Latin America: Cocaine Production on the Increase, UN Says | Latin America: Mexican Army Invades Nuevo Laredo, Detains Police Force as Cartel Violence Hits Border City | Africa: Swaziland Marijuana Growers Unstoppable, Police Say | Media Scan: Seattle Times | Weekly: This Week in History | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

Mail this article to a friend
Send us feedback on this article
This issue -- main page
This issue -- single-file printer version
Drug War Chronicle -- main page
Chronicle archives
Subscribe now!
Out from the Shadows HEA Drug Provision Drug War Chronicle Perry Fund DRCNet en EspaŮol Speakeasy Blogs About Us Home
Why Legalization? NJ Racial Profiling Archive Subscribe Donate DRCNet em PortuguÍs Latest News Drug Library Search
special friends links: SSDP - Flex Your Rights - IAL - Drug War Facts

StoptheDrugWar.org: the Drug Reform Coordination Network (DRCNet)
1623 Connecticut Ave., NW, 3rd Floor, Washington DC 20009 Phone (202) 293-8340 Fax (202) 293-8344 [email protected]