Who smokes weed? Why do these people use it? What effect does weed have on society? What do we do about this drug “problem”? These are some of the questions that are often answered with stereotypes and misconceptions, either by ourselves or the people around us based on a lack of knowledge or being misinformed. The process of challenging these perceptions around cannabis began with an introduction to the legal aspects of usage and decriminalisation. A follow-up panel at Think!Fest explored the social and medical aspects of decriminalising cannabis.
“At the end of Matric in 2004 I took a trip to Europe and during that trip I visited Amsterdam,” says attorney Paul-Michael Keichel. “Not only did I smoke some very high-grade cannabis and enjoy it, I found myself in a very functional society in which people go about their business [and] the sky doesn’t fall.”
Keichel and the “Dagga Couple” are challenging the laws that prohibit the use of cannabis. But a new tie and shiny shoes worn by Keichel are not enough to convince the Constitutional Court to change a law criminalising a potentially harmful substance. The first step in challenging prohibition is to prove that the risks associated with cannabis are not actually true, and the second step involves proving that the prohibition of cannabis does not succeed in minimising these alleged risks. Keichel does this by debunking the myths around the following areas.
“Brexit was never about resistance against the overkill of European rules and laws which the British felt restrained their freedom and possibility. It was never about taking control of our own law again which they said very often. It was always about xenophobia, about an irrational hatred for foreigners and immigrants[…]. Blaming their problems on this imaginary threat of immigration and Islam” – Hassnae Bouazza.
Following a Gender Politics Panel earlier in the day, Hassnae Bouazza returns to address Islamophobia and how women in particular are affected by it. She makes links to xenophobia, racism and worldwide perceptions of immigrants.