Cannabis policy benefits criminal networks !

Zappiste: Cannabis policy benefits criminal networks. Thanks to prohibitionists !

Cannabis policy benefits criminal networks
by Tiaan Meiring mai 04 2016, 05:51

CANNABIS, along with tik, the local version of crystal methamphetamine, is one of the two drugs produced in large quantities in SA, and also the most widely used illicit drug in the country.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s (UNODC’s) 2009 World Drug Report, 22% of the world’s cannabis harvest comes from Africa, where it is produced in almost every country.

The largest producer is SA, with about 2,500 tonnes of the total of 8,900 tonnes produced — that is 28% of the African production and 7% of the world’s output.

The UNODC, Interpol and the US Department of State continuously rank SA as one of the top producers in the world. Cultivation and trade of the plant in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region takes place on a massive scale —– to such an extent that it is in the three top sources of hard currency for the people of Lesotho. SA is also one of, if not the largest, exporter of the herb to the UK and Ireland, with large quantities also exported to continental Europe and the East.

There is most likely no illicit market that benefits SA’s poor more than growing dagga, despite them raking in only moderate returns compared with the eventual street price of the product. Its cultivation brings in much higher returns than other cash crops for the predominantly poor and remote rural farmers growing it in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Growing dagga requires little to no input costs and the local climate is ideal. However, the farmers run the risk of losing their entire crop to police helicopters spraying Kilo Max*, a weed killer in all senses of the word. It contains glyphosate, declared a "probable carcinogen" by the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) in March 2015, and which has come under increasing international and local scrutiny.

These farmers not only often lose out on their main source of income, but they have also reported a loss of their other crops (often growing amid the cannabis), as well as damage to the health of the people and animals in the area.

Who benefits the most from the flourishing illicit market, though?

First, those like many middle-class, urban individuals who grow the more potent and profitable, indoor hydroponic cannabis strains that require much higher input costs and intensive cultivation.

Second, those who trade and distribute the drug through criminal networks. So trade in cannabis serves as a major resource to SA’s gangs and crime syndicates. This is apart from the fact that cannabis is then often blended with anything from heroin, mandrax, anti-retrovirals, milk powder, rat poison, or pool cleaner, and sold as nyaope or whoonga. Selling these blended and more harmful substances helps sellers to get clients dependent on more addictive — and more profitable — substances, continuing the unfortunate cycle of addiction, harm and profitability.

Most people would agree the cannabis trade’s greater threat to society lies with the criminal networks distributing and selling it.

The government’s policy to date has focused predominantly on supply-side measures (in line with international narratives of zero tolerance and the so-called war on drugs). But, just as has been the case with similar strategies globally, the forces of supply and demand have overcome these prohibitionist policies.

Cannabis is as widely and affordably available as it has ever been. Criminal networks are increasingly benefiting from the profitability of this illicit trade largely because of the high risks caused by prohibitionist policies.

On the regulatory costs of policing SA’s illicit cannabis trade, there are little data available. A report, titled At what cost? The futility of the war on drugs in South Africa, the Anti-Drug Alliance (ADA) quantified all drug arrests in Gauteng over two months in 2013. A total of 23,000 arrests were made and drugs worth about R13m were confiscated (99% of which was cannabis). But the cost of policing equated to R38m (a R25m loss to the state); at a conviction rate of only 9%. Extrapolate these numbers to include the whole country for a year, including the cost of housing those convicted, and it is clear SA’s prohibitionist approach is a significant drain on the fiscus.

However, these are probably not even the greatest costs related to this regulatory equation. What about the lost time and resources that could have been used by an already overstretched police force to address more serious and violent crimes?

Should we not be reconsidering our approach? If we keep on doing what we’re doing, we’ll keep on getting what we’re getting.

There are many global examples of harm-reduction approaches that are far more effective than our current supply-centric approach (and which are more in line with our stance on alcohol and tobacco — both drugs that are generally more harmful to both the user and those around them).

For example, consider the Netherland’s coffee-shop model. There, you split the market for cannabis and more addictive drugs; in doing so you separate the client from the dealers who have a motive to sell laced cannabis and more addictive and profitable drugs. Cannabis is then no more a gateway drug than the alcohol or cigarettes that we buy at licensed outlets.

If policy is so designed that it completely separates the market for cannabis from criminal networks, it would greatly cut their revenues — cash that tends to fund other criminal activities. Formal, legal production and retailing would also add to employment and revenues in the licit market, contribute to government tax revenues and drastically decrease the costs related to policing the illicit markets. Medical research into the effects and uses of cannabis would also be granted competitive advantage within a more liberal legal model.

• Meiring is an intern at the South African Institute for Race Relations

Zappiste: * Kilo Max
Product Name: Kilo Max 700 WSG
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Issued by: Arysta Lifescience South Africa Phone: 031 514 5600

Poison Information Centre: 082 446 8946; Tygerberg: (021) 931 6129; Poison Emergency Enquiry: (021) 689 5227


ARYSTA LifeScience South Africa (Pty) Ltd Tel: 031 514 5600
Co. Reg. No.: 2009/019713/07 Fax: 031 514 5611
7 Sunbury Office Park, off Douglas Saunders Drive e-mail:
La Lucia Ridge, 4019 Web address:

Product Name: Kilo Max 700 WSG
Product Use: Herbicide
Creation Date: November 2011
Revision Date: October 13
24 Hr Emergency Number: 082 771 2712

In case of Poisoning:

Poison Information Centre 082 446 8946
Tygerberg Hospital: (021) 931 6129
Poison Emergency Enquiries (021) 689 5227

In case of Spillage:
HAZMAT: 0800 147 112


Common Name: Glyphosate
Chemical Name: N-(phosphonomethyl)glycine, IPA salt
Chemical family: Inorganic copper salt

Use: Herbicide with preventative action.
Formulation: C6H17N2O5P
Hazardous ingredients of toxicological concern:
Inert: concern: % present:
Glyphosate harmful >70 % v/v
RISK-PHRASE(S) R20/22, R36


Harmful if swallowed.
May cause moderate eye irritation.
Non-irritating to skin.
Minimally toxic by inhalation.


Remove patient from exposure, keep warm and at rest. Obtain medical attention.

Skin contact:
Immediately take off all contaminated clothing. Wash skin immediately with cold water, followed by soap and water. Such action is essential to minimize contact with skin. Contaminated clothing should be washed before re-use.

Eye contact:
Immediately irrigate with eyewash solution or clean water, holding the eyelids apart, for at least 15 minutes. Obtain medical attention.

If swallowed seek medical advice immediately and show this Data Sheet.
Further Medical treatment:
Symptomatic treatment and supportive therapy as indicated.


Keep fire exposed containers cool by spraying with water.
Extinguishing Media:
For small fires, use foam, carbon dioxide, dry powder or halon extinguishant. For large fires, use foam or water-fog; avoid use of water jet. Contain run-off water with, for example, temporary earth barriers.
Fire Fighting Protective Equipment:
Product Name: Kilo Max 700 WSG

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Issued by: Arysta Lifescience South Africa Phone: 031 514 5600
Poison Information Centre: 082 446 8946; Tygerberg: (021) 931 6129; Poison Emergency Enquiry: (021) 689 5227
A self-contained breathing apparatus and suitable protective clothing must be worn in fire conditions.


Ensure suitable personal protection during removal of spillage. This means wearing eye protection, chemically resistant gloves, boots and coveralls. Adsorb spillage onto sand, earth or any suitable adsorbent material. Transfer to a container for disposal. Wash the spillage area with water. Washings must be prevented from entering surface water drains. Spillage or uncontrolled discharges into water courses must be alerted to the Department of Water Affairs/Environment.

Waste disposal:
If wastes cannot be used according to label instructions or chemically reprocessed, dispose of in a landfill approved for pesticide disposal or bury under at least 500 mm of soil in a non-crop, non-pasture area away from water sources of homes. Dispose of in accordance with all applicable local and state laws.

Emptied containers retain material residue. Observe all labelled safeguards until container is cleaned, reconditioned or destroyed.


Read the label before use. Avoid contact with skin and eyes. When using do not eat, drink or smoke. Wash face and hands before eating, drinking or smoking.

Store under lock and key. Keep in original container, tightly sealed. Store in a cool, dry place away from farm feeds and food stuff. Do not store or apply this product in galvanized or unlined steel (except stainless steel) containers or spray tanks.


Exposure standards:
The ADI for Glyphosate is set a 0.3mg/kg/day. The corresponding NOEL is set at 30 mg/kgday.

Engineering controls:
In industrial situations, concentration values below the TWA value should be maintained. Values may be reduced by process modification, use of local exhaust ventilation, capturing substances at the source, or other methods. If you believe air borne concentrations of mists, dusts or vapours are high, you are advised to modify the process or environment to reduce the problem.

Respiratory protection:
It is usually safe to not use a dust mask or respirator protection on account of this product.

Protective Gloves:
Impermeable elbow length PVC gloves should be worn to prevent irritation.

Eye protection:
When preparing product for use, wear face shield or goggles.

When using controlled droplet applicator, wear protective waterproof clothing and impervious footwear


Form : Water soluble granules.
Colour : Brown to off-white free flowing granules
Odour : Slight amine odour
Bulk density : 0.70 ± 0.01
Flammability : None
Flash point : None
Solubility : Soluble
Wettability : <10 secs


Stable for at least 5 years under normal conditions of warehouse storage.
Hazardous decomposition Product(s):
Materials to avoid:
No particular incompatibilities
Product Name: Kilo Max 700 WSG

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Issued by: Arysta Lifescience South Africa Phone: 031 514 5600
Poison Information Centre: 082 446 8946; Tygerberg: (021) 931 6129; Poison Emergency Enquiry: (021) 689 5227


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