In the past few decades this topic has come up numerous times, with people on both sides of the fence and some in between. In some cases, people who have never taken the drug have formed opinions on whether to legalize it or not. Both sides have pros and cons, however if the drug were to be legalised what kind of effect would that have on society?
Firstly we have to take a look at some of the pro-legalization factors that people have brought up any how valid each of these factors are. Many people say that the drug is no more harmful than alcohol or tobacco if used in moderation, this may be true, but that is only if it is used in moderation. In the case of many dagga smokers the habit will start to develop and these people will increase their intake until they incorporate the drug into their daily lives and routines. So in this case many people will be able to only use the drug in moderation, but what about those who are unable to keep the drug under control?
Another common pro that people bring up is the fact that the drug has medicinal uses for cancer patients, pain relief and other illnesses. In this case these people are right, however, this is no grounds for the legalisation of the drug. Unless the person using the drug has an illness that marijuana may help with, they do not need it. Perhaps the drug should be available for strict medical use, but this factor alone is no ground to stand on for the full legalisation of the drug.
Street justice that is related to drug disputes will likely be reduced by a significant amount if the drug is legalised, people will no longer have to go to shady dealers in order to get the drug and the drug will be cheaper due to fair competition, but does this offset the effect that the legalisation of marijuana will have on society? In South Africa in particular, where unemployment and poverty is so high we do not need more availability of drugs to hinder the population even more.
When considering this debate, people need to think about the cons of legalising marijuana as well, the most cliché of these being that it is a stepping stone to other drugs. Although this is completely cliché, it is also true, once the effects have become diminished for the user there is a chance they will use something else to try and recreate the buzz that they have become so fond of. Another con of legalisation is the increased amount of driving that will be done under the influence of the drug and the lack of a means to prevent this. You can use a breathalyzer to measure alcohol levels in a person, but you can’t do the same for marijuana. There is no quick way to see if the driver is under the influence of marijuana. Lastly we have to think about the effect that the second hand smoke will have on people that have no desire to take the drug. Second-hand dagga smoke can have a damaging physical affect on people, especially children.
Although the legalisation of this particular drug has been successful in some places such as Amsterdam, where a smaller percentage of the population takes the drug than that of South Africans, it will not likely be as successful here. It will probably cause more problems for our society than it will resolve.