Namibia not ready to legalise marijuana: Shanghala

Justice Minister SakeusShanghala has ruled out the possibility to legalise the use of marijuana or marijuana in Namibia under the guise of its medicinal use, saying the country is not ready to manage its legalization.

Shanghala made the country's position on the legalization known in the National Assembly on Thursday.

It was in response to numerous calls by pro-marijuana legalization pressure groups who have in recent times called on government to decriminalise the use or possession of marijuana.

At the onset, Shanghala pointed to the legislation that currently bars the use of marijuana.

Marijuana is a serious offence in Namibia because Namibia is not able to deal with the devastating effects of the drug on our people, Shanghala said.

According to the minister, the chief reason brought forth by those propagate the legalization of marijuana is that it will be used for medicinal purposes.

This notion, Shanghala shot down.

Pointing to statistics obtained from the High Courts website, all 71 cases on marijuana are for recreational use and not for medicinal use.

Further, he indicated that other commercially available drugs are subject to rigorous clinical trials to evaluate safety and efficacy, something which cannot be said about marijuana.

The minister further agreed that that components of marijuana do have potential therapeutic effects to alleviate diseases such as cancer.

But he said the has never been a need from the medical fraternity to substitute those medicines with marijuana.

Any argument in favour of marijuana on medical ground is defective and must be rejected, Shanghala dismissed.

As such, the negative impacts of marijuana outweigh its purported benefits, the minister submitted to the August house.

Marijuana is distinctive. It is known to cause schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders. It has detrimental effects on cognition and can impair any ability to drive or work, he said.

Instead of focusing on the legalization of marijuana, Namibians should direct their attention and energy to solve the ever-growing alcohol abuse problem.

If we are able to manage the effects of one of the most devastating legal drugs in the world � alcohol � then only can will be ready to manage the effects of legalised marijuana, he said.

At present, in terms of schedule 1 of the Abuse of Dependence-Producing Substance and Rehabilitation Centres Act of 1971 prohibits use or possession of marijuana (dagga).

Any person found in possession of marijuana is subject to a fine not exceeding N.dollars 30 000 to imprisonment for a period not exceeding 15 years or both such a fine and imprisonment.

Source: Namibia Press Agency