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Right Now Cannabis and Party Politics Don’t Mix: Only Prohibitionists Respond to CA Attitude Survey

Sometimes the most interesting things emerge from the places one is least expecting to find them. When Cannabiz Africa launched its survey on SA political party attitudes towards cannabis, we expected a positive response given that the subject has been largely destigmatized by a Government going ahead with a National Cannabis Master Plan. 

 

Read our Official Survey Report here 

 

When we say positive, we mean positive in that everyone would be happy to share their views rather than necessarily be positive towards cannabis – it’s not everybody’s cup of THC, so to speak. We believed that party spokespeople would be able to articulate their views on cannabis now that Cabinet has made it part of a national debate about economic recovery – and with 3,5 m cannabis users out there, a potential source of easy voting fodder. 

But no. It appears that cannabis is still too hot a topic to toss about at election time – it had the potential to divide rather than unite traditional political support bases, and ultimately that’s probably a good thing – the last thing South Africa needs, in our humble opinion, is a party political debate around cannabis. This is a different kid of politics. Within each political party – besides the Dagga Party – there are progressives and prohibitionists. The cannabis debate at election time could only have divided these party’s fragmented support bases, rather than provide any politically competitive advantage. One of the most interesting responses – as a complete non-response was Herman Mashaba of Action SA, who simply refused to comment!

We already have a government that has mandated the Agriculture Department to fast-track a hemp industry, SAHPRA is licensing medicinal cannabis cultivators for export, then Eastern Cape government is calling for tenders for cannabis incubation hubs and wants complete legalization; other provincial governments are steaming ahead with their own cannabis plans; the Department of Trade and Industry is looking at financing mechanisms for cannabis businesses, SARS is hoping for new cannabis revenue in 2023, while SATSA is telling its inbound tourism operators to see whether they could benefit from “canna-tourism”. So. What possible positive contribution could any political party in this country offer to cannabis reform? Zero. Zilch. Nadda. Thank goodness. Let’s move right along from these purveyors of false promises. 

All political parties basically agree that South Africa needs economic growth, jobs, export revenue, increased tourism, more tax collection, sustainable agriculture and better health for the people. Cannabis has the potential to deliver this. The interesting thing is that Government realises this but political parties don’t. All would agree on the outcomes cannabis offers, but the only objection to the mechanism comes from those who have an ideological, rather than an evidence-based resistance.

So of the 11 political parties Cannabiz Africa tried to engage with – through the services of Frayintermedia – only two had the courtesy to formally respond  – Aljah Ma AH and the ACDP are both prohibitionist but at least had clear attitudes towards cannabis – and should be applauded for coming to the debate – unlike the other nine who displayed neither courage nor conviction in articulating a cannabis line in case it cost them votes. Ultimately, it’s probably better that legalization is not an issue we have to vote for. Reform has arrived because of overwhelming evidence-based research and clear economic thinking that has the potential to deliver more money into the pockets of the poor – and the rich!.

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