THE Ganja Users of Namibia (GUN) has appealed to members of the National Assembly, as well as members of the public to refrain from making untrue or misleading anti-cannabis views without any proven scientific or medical evidence.
In a press statement, the organisation responded to the Minister of Justice Sacky Shanghala’s statement last week where he stated that Namibia is not able to deal with the devastating effects of the drug on the nation and is thus not ready to legalise Cannibis.
Shanghala said in the national assembly last week that while components of Marijuana have potential therapeutic effects to alleviate onerous symptoms of diseases such as cancer, there are sufficient legal and efficacious medicines that do what cannabis is purported to do.
Shanghala added that there has never been a need from the medical fraternity to substitute those medicines with cannabis.
“Any argument in favour of cannabis on medical ground is defective and must be rejected,” Shangala declared.
In response, Secretary General of GUN, Borro Ndungula, stated that his association is challenging the justice minister to produce proof that Namibian masses don’t want to replace prescription pills with cannabis.
Ndungula added that although citizens want to use cannabis instead of expensive prescription medicines, there is no doctor in Namibia ready to prescribe it to them because by law cannabis is illegal and therefore criminal.
Shanghala further argued that since there has been only one randomised, double blind, placebo and active-controlled trial evaluating the efficacy of smoked cannabis, it cannot be legalised as commercially available drugs are subject to rigorous clinical safety and efficacy.
In response, Ndungula quizzed Shanghala on whether similar trials were done on cigarettes, tobacco, alcohol or coffee or why are they different drugs.
Putting the final nail in the coffin on his anti-cannabis rhetoric, Shanghala stated that Marijuana is addictive, and is known to cause schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders.
“It has detrimental effects on cognition and can impair any ability to drive or work. In some cases, reported side effects include anxiety, short-term memory recall issues and hallucinations,” Shanghala said.
GUN, however, questioned the justice minister why there is no single cannabis rehabilitation centre in Namibia as provided for by the same act the government enforces or why there are no cannabis psychiatrists if cannabis is a health issue.
“We say more than 200,000 Namibians use cannabis medicinally and recreationally and to this day, our organisation has never received information of cannabis over dose or death,” Ndungula stated.