Substance Abuse Cannabis Debate
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30 March 2017
Dear friend of Doctors For Life:
Fields of Green for All is pushing to legalize/decriminalise the use of Cannabis (Dagga) in the upcoming court case that has been dragging on for 5 years and is finally culminating in a court case to be heard on 31 July – 25 August 2017. They arranged protests and marches in Cape Town and Gauteng, some of which the press claimed had an attendance of 30,000 people. They booked the court for 19 days and Doctors for Life has joined the case as a separate party presenting critical and valuable contributions to oppose the legalization/decriminalisation of cannabis.
Our expert witnesses include 1) Prof. Bertha Madras, a Professor of Psychobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. She is the former Deputy Director for Demand Reduction (prevention, treatment) in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President, a position unanimously confirmed by the US Senate. 2) Mr. David Evans, who as a law practitioner was involved in addictions law, addictions consulting, drug and alcohol-free workplaces, drug and alcohol testing and government affairs on drug and alcohol issues, and as a research scientist undertook analysis of legal and regulatory requirements regarding drug and alcohol abuse, research and data collection, courts and criminal justice.
In submissions by our expert witnesses we are providing critical information demonstrating the serious side-effects of ingesting/smoking the whole plant. These side-effects can be divided into those associated with acute intoxication, those experienced up to 21 days after ingested/smoked, and the long-term/permanent side-effects. The disastrous effects which the legalization/decriminalisation of cannabis (Dagga) will have on South Africa in terms of motor vehicle accidents; due to delayed reaction time and the inability to perform complex actions etc is of special importance. Furthermore we demonstrate the permanent/long-term damage it has been shown to have when used by teenagers including a significant drop in IQ measured at 38yrs of age and a correlation with social problems such as school drop-outs and workplace problems to mention but a few.
The whole argument about ‘medical marijuana’ (Dagga) is also addressed in our submission. Conflating the use of the cannabis plant as a whole with isolated cannabinoids misunderstands the scientific literature and confuses doctors, policy makers and patients. The ‘medical marijuana’ movement is using this to blur regulatory and legal boundaries. This is properly demonstrated in the Doctors for Life submission. The psycho-active effects of ingesting/smoking the whole plant, poses a significant ethical obstacle in double-blinded clinical trials and makes it inappropriate to be moved from a schedule 7 to a schedule 6 drug that can be prescribed by doctors.
Although our attorneys are willing to work pro bono for only two thirds of the costs, the amount we still need to cover is R1 million. We appeal to you to inform us of any individual or organization that may be in a position to contribute or help us raise this amount. Stand proud with us as we protect the integrity of what it means to be a true example for the generations to come!
Albu van Eeden
CEO Doctors for Life International
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SABC Newsroom live debate with the Dagga Couple
USA – Marijuana may hurt the developing teen brain
In childhood our brain is larger, says Krista Lisdahl, director of the brain imaging and neuropsychology lab at University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. During the teenage years, our brain is getting rid of those connections that weren’t really used, and it prunes back. Researchers from Duke University analysed data gathered over many years from people living in New Zealand. They compared IQs in childhood through age 38 among marijuana users and nonusers. “We found that people who began using marijuana in their teenage years and continued to use marijuana for many years lost about eight IQ points from childhood to adulthood”, says study author Madeline Meier, now a professor at Arizona State University, “whereas those who never used marijuana never lost IQ points.”