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Dagga holds the key to grass root level poverty eradication

Dagga holds the key to grass root level poverty eradication

Niël Terblanché
THE decriminalisation of cannabis in Namibia has the potential to rapidly eradicate poverty in marginalised communities and give people affordable access to medicines that can be manufactured from it.
If properly regulated and protected by the central government, the decriminalisation of dagga can potentially add an entirely new aspect to the Namibian tourism industry which holds huge economic potential for the country.

Pictured: Members and supporters of Rasta Community of Erongo and the Association for Cannabis and Hemp in Namibia handed over petitions in which they urge government to decriminalise dagga and hemp. – Photos: Contributed

People will also be able to cultivate hemp and create and work in an entirely new aspect to the agricultural industry in Namibia. Quick research in this regard on the economic potential of hemp shows that the plant can be used to manufacture anything from paper to bio-fuel.
The recent arrest of several dagga farmers along the coast of Namibia and the fact that many of the cultivators used the plant to manufacture medicinal oil that can be used to alleviate and even reverse the effects of certain diseases such as, epilepsy, Multiple Sclerosis and certain cancers, prompted a protest action and the launch of a campaign in Namibia to decriminalise dagga in the country.
Members and supporters of the Ganja Users of Namibia (GUN), the Rastafari United Front (RUF), the Rasta Community of Erongo (RCE) as well as the Association for Cannabis and Hemp in Namibia (ACHN) held two different protest marches in Swakopmund and Windhoek to hand a petition to the Erongo Regional Governor, Cleophas Mutjavikua as well as the Speaker of the National Assembly, Professor Peter Katjivivi.
In their petition the ACHN stated that the laws governing and criminalising cannabis and hemp should be changed to accommodate grass root economic development in Namibia.
“We are well aware of the economic crisis that is hurting and harming the masses of the world and especially Namibia and we encourage our Government to look at the potential of a legal cannabis industry as a way to benefit our economy through taxation and rural empowerment via job creation by a whole new industry that cannabis and hemp offer.”
The group stated in their petition that the participation in this international industry offers solutions to poverty eradication that are in line with the UN 2030 sustainable development goals. Cannabis and hemp also offer sustainable solutions to environmental problems currently faced by Namibia such as climate change and deforestation.
“We demand that cannabis be legalised for medical, cultural, religious, environmental, economical and agricultural reasons and purposes. Some of Namibia’s oldest inhabitants used cannabis medicinally for thousands of years until Apartheid laws made it a criminal offence. These laws were introduced by the racist Apartheid government.”
In their petition the ACHN stated that if dagga and hemp are legalised, Government must ensure that no land be availed to foreigners or big corporations for the cultivation purposes and its trade unless forming joint ventures with local marginalised Namibians should be protected at all cost.
“This plant needs to benefit all Namibian people.”
They stated that the targeted and unlawful harassment of cannabis users and the illegal police searches of people and their homes, their detention, prosecution and punishment of such people, is a direct violations of their human and constitutional rights.
“We, the users and supporters of cannabis and the Rasta Community in Namibia would like to express our disappointment with the way our Namibian Government is handling the issue around the cannabis.”
The ACHN stated that they want to challenge the constitutionality of the criminal prohibition of cannabis as provided for in the National Drug Bill scheduled Section 1, Part 3: Undesirable dependency producing substance.
“This particular prohibition is irrational and it is a racist Apartheid law that has never been revised and that our Government of a free Namibia has adopted from the colonising regime. Further, the claim of it being an undesirable dependency producing substance has been disproven by science based research as per the evidence study done by Prof Dr David Nutt in 2017.”
The group demanded that the people of Namibia must be involved in any discussion around the cannabis legislation to have their voices heard and provide their expertise on the benefits of the cannabis and hemp.
They also demanded that 20 April be declared a public holiday on the Namibian almanac calendar to coincide with the world wide Cannabis day.
They have asked that the Erongo Governor to respond to their recommendations within 21 days.

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