Quote of the week

As seductive as certain perspectives of international law may appear to those who disagree with the outcome of the interpretative exercise conducted by this Court in the contempt judgment, sight must not be lost of the proper place of international law, especially in respect of an application for rescission. The approach that my Brother adopts may be apposite in the context of an appeal, where a court is enjoined to consider whether the court a quo erred in its interpretation of the law. Although it should be clear by now, I shall repeat it once more: this is not an appeal, for this Court’s orders are not appealable. I am deeply concerned that seeking to rely on articles of the ICCPR as a basis for rescission constitutes nothing more than sophistry.

Khampepe J
Zuma v Secretary of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture, Corruption and Fraud in the Public Sector Including Organs of State and Others (CCT 52/21) [2021] ZACC 28 (17 September 2021)
28 March 2007

Pharmaceutical Calvinism or rational drugs policy?

There has been some lively discussion below following my post suggesting that alcohol is far more harmful than dagga or ecstasy and that the Constitutional Court might have been mistaken to deny Mr Prince’s claim that his religion should allow him to smoke dagga. In the past, I have argued that South Africa’s drug policy is based on Pharmaceutical Calvinism – drugs are legal unless they might be enjoyable…

The study I quoted from was published in the respected British medical Journal, Lancet (not that that should be conclusive), and used three factors to determine the harm associated with any drug: the physical harm to the user, the drug’s potential for addiction, and the impact on society of the drug’s use before calculating the drugs’ overall rankings. It is therefore clear that the researchers did not only rely on whether the drug would kill you or not.

I don’t want to sound like President Mbeki with his Aids denialism… but the report on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation news website continued:

Heroin and cocaine were ranked most dangerous, followed by barbiturates and street methadone. Alcohol was the fifth-most harmful drug and tobacco the ninth most harmful. Cannabis came in 11th, and near the bottom of the list was ecstasy.

Tobacco causes 40 per cent of all hospital illnesses, while alcohol is blamed for more than half of all visits to hospital emergency rooms. The substances also harm society in other ways, damaging families and occupying police services.

While experts agreed that criminalizing alcohol and tobacco would be challenging, they said that governments should review the penalties imposed for drug abuse and try to make them more reflective of the actual risks and damages involved.

I suppose those who warn that dagga causes Schizophrenia will argue that if it was freely available it would become just as dangerous and harm just as many people as alcohol or cigarettes. Which begs the question of why alcohol and cigarettes are legal and part of a multi-billion dollar industry, while dagga is produced by poor black people in Transkei…. Well, make up your own mind.

SHARE:     
BACK TO TOP
2015 Constitutionally Speaking | website created by Idea in a Forest