Cosatu spokesman Tony Ehrenreich has raised red flags over the current state of cannabis reform. He says Government’s inability to put an ethically-based cannabis regulatory framework in place is racking up economic and social costs.
Cosatu’s Western Cape regional secretary, Tony Ehrenreich, put it bluntly at the launch of the Institute for Economic Justice’s (IEJ) Cannabis Report on 24 February 2023: “The horrors of the past must be avoided in the future. We’ve got to avoid feeding the pipeline of poverty”.
Commenting on the country's cannabis strategy, the trade union veteran said economic opportunities were being wasted because of Government’s inability to put in place a humanistic regulatory framework to govern the industry.
“It’s a sad thing that legislative change has been so slow. The slow movement has denied us the opportunity to put in place a framework for the value chain. We are losing important opportunities in forex and jobs not created.
“All the delays do not help us get to the place where we can maximize the benefits of the plant”.
Ehrenreich endorsed the findings of the IEJ’s Cannabis report, calling it “an exceptional research paper that puts labour at the forefront of cannabis reform”.
He said it was important to note that cannabis had provided income for legacy growing communities and that their quality of life should not be undermined by cannabis reform.
He said prohibition had come at a social cost.
“People’s lives have been thrown into disarray because they’ve been caught with a joint” he said.
He said that the stigma surrounding cannabis needed to be tackled and that the social harms of alcohol, cigarettes and cannabis should be looked at more carefully. Legalization of full adult-use cannabis consumption was desirable but the health risks needed to be taken into consideration.
To sum it up Cosatu-style, Ehrenreich said: “We demand a more expedited process”