"Just think of all the money we can make!" say those who would see dagga legalized in South Africa. Alarmingly, this sentiment seems to be echoed by an increasing number of our country's politicians, as evidenced in a recent series of interviews with some of our country's largest political parties. Dagga may generate tax revenue it's true, but where will this new money end up? Will it really find its way into the hands of those who need it the most? What is the actual rand value of one young life and its potential? Are we willing to sacrifice the lives and futures of South African citizens so that we can plunder this 'untapped resource', as one politician labelled dagga in a recent interview?
One advocate of legalization even went as far as to suggest that revenue from the sale of dagga could be used to conduct awareness campaigns amongst the youth and even to build new schools! CYPSA has been conducting Awareness Campaigns in schools in all 9 provinces for some years now. In 2014 we have visited approximately 800 schools and we have spoken to nearly 300 000 learners to date.
At nearly every school we have heard that dagga is one of the most destructive forces faced by educators and learners alike. Please don't be deceived by the promise that when dagga has been legalized it will be harder for children to get their hands on as it will be regulated, it will be easier than ever before. What will the point of building new schools be if there are no children who want to be educated as they prefer to stay at home and get high on dagga, or when classrooms are filled with children who cannot retain any new information as they have damaged their brains by using dagga? With drastically fewer educated and skilled individuals joining the workforce, what will the state of our economy be 10 years from now?
For every up there is a down as they say, and whilst the immediate benefit of taxing a substance that people can become addicted to (just like tobacco and alcohol) may be appealing, as there is a captive audience that can be squeezed, there will be consequences. There are far better ways to generate the income needed to develop our nation. Drugs, including dagga, are at the centre of the 'instant gratification movement'. To explain, those getting high will no longer be motivated to work hard to gain the pleasure to be found in achievement, success and a sense of duty and to earn an income. Pleasure will be bought and smoked. A quick 'fix' of synthetic happiness and contentment.
The country, its economy, and its citizens will suffer due to a nationwide lack of motivation and ambition. Why work hard when you can smoke drugs all day and live on a grant? We have seen it happen in many first world countries who have legalized or declassified drugs over the past few decades, so why would it be any different here in South Africa? The only real difference is that we are unable to exist in such a state due to our weaker economy, and that we are unable to provide for those citizens that cannot or will not work in the way that first world countries can. Our economy will now have to carry the additional burden of even more citizens who contribute nothing towards the GDP of South Africa.
Legalizing dagga will destroy the chance of having a competent, thoughtful, self-disciplined, hard-working and efficient and productive society. The pleasure that a dagga high brings will destroy the happiness of self-discipline, family life, personal responsibility and the gratification of the rewards of hard work and productivity. It is a false, synthetic pleasure that will lead us into a dead end.