Seeds are being sown in the form of the opinion that dagga is somehow 'softer' or safer than other illegal drugs such as heroin or crack cocaine. Perhaps when compared to a substance like heroin dagga may seem less severe (you don't have to put a needle in your arm to use it), but dagga is deadly nonetheless. Narcotics are dangerous in different ways and a direct comparison achieves little. In some ways, the effect on a user's mental health for example, dagga can be equally lethal. As the use of dagga has become increasingly widespread, the link between dagga and mental illness has become apparent, and it is now accepted that the effects are greater when dagga is used by the young, especially those in early adolescence.
Mental illness and the mind itself are areas that are hard to quantify scientifically (although the results of many studies are emerging) and those that would see dagga legalized use this loophole. It is almost impossible to run trials with a drug that could cause permanent mental illness that is irreversible to test subjects! Results of tests and studies become irrelevant however, when the damage dagga causes is seen in hundreds of cases in front of our very eyes. What better evidence is there?
Users have become psychotic, depressed or addicted. Parents have seen the effect it has on their children and users of dagga know of cases where people have lost their minds due to the habitual use of the drug. There have even been cases where individuals who were 'experimenting' with dagga have entered into an irreversible psychotic state.
(The use of the word 'experimenting' when referring to new users of dagga is misleading. They are not launching a peer reviewed study into the substance, they are smoking an illegal drug to get high!) Dagga is not a 'harmless herb' as is often claimed. Although not insane, many people suffer mental illness in the form of academic under-achievement and a lack of ambition, self-discipline and self-control. They are still for the most part fully functioning human beings, but are damaged in a more subtle way than those who become schizophrenic for example. These individuals are rendered unable to live a normal, productive and fulfilling life and the majority of these cases go unreported.
Whilst some advocates of legalization may claim to have smoked dagga for over thirty years with no negative effects whatsoever, this statement has yet to be verified by medical professionals and phycologists.
Users of cocaine, heroin and ecstasy can be found who will maintain that they have not been harmed by these drugs. Yet there are thousands of others who have been destroyed by these substances and many have lost their lives.
The testimony of a few who claim they have suffered no ill effects from the use of dagga cannot be considered an indication of the safety of the substance. The physical evidence and personal experiences of thousands of individuals who have suffered the adverse psychological and physical effects of dagga speak for themselves.