Green Party President Peter Sinkamba has challenged Law Association of Zambia President George Chisanga to state the association’s position over the debate on legalization of marijuana.
In a letter to Mr Chisanga, Mr Sinkamba argued that marijuana has been illegal for so many years and is responsible for such a large part of the prison population.
He said a good number of prisoners are incarcerated for the crime of self-medication adding that approximately 5,000 of the 18,000 prisoners in Zambian jails are marijuana-related offenders.
Mr Sinkamba said people all over the world are now beginning to realize that the war on marijuana is a huge mistake, and a total failure.
He said fighting marijuana is a threat to humanity which has been over-exaggerated.
Below is Mr Sinkamba’s letter
19th May, 2015
Law Association of Zambia
Dear Mr. President,
I guess you may have followed the debate that the Green Party initiated early last year on legalization of marijuana for medicinal, economic, industrial and social benefits.
As you are aware, marijuana has been illegal for so many years. It is responsible for such a large part of the prison population. A very good number of prisoners are incarcerated, by and large for the crime of self-medication. Approximately 5,000 of the 18,000 prisoners in our Zambian jails are marijuana-related offenders. And it takes millions of kwacha to arrest and incarcerate these people for a crime against oneself, as best can be defined.
People all over the world are now beginning to realize that the war on marijuana is a huge mistake, and total failure. It’s threat to humanity has been over-exaggerated. People now realise the amount of money spent on war against marijuana could better be used to buy critical drugs and medical equipment rather than arrest and incarcerated people and thereby create an army of hard core criminals, and wasted citizens.
Clinical evidence indicating that marijuana use may be casually linked to incidences of mental illness or other psychological harms is not compelling, according to scientific evidence published by many medical journals. The potential health risks of marijuana, particularly whether use of the drug may be causally linked with mental illness, has been put into question.
Meantime, countries around the world have started revising their laws on using marijuana for treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDs, Parkinson’s Disease, multiple sclerosis, damage to the nervous tissue of the spinal cord, epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, neuropathies, and several other diseases. Only yesterday, the Medical Association of Zambia announced it position on medicinal marijuana. The Association called for legalization of marijuana for medical research and economic benefits.
This letter serves to seek the views of the Laws Association of Zambia on the subject matter. As you are aware, medicinal marijuana was partially legalized in Zambia in 1994 through Section 9 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, Cap 96 of the Laws of Zambia. According to Section 9, no person must be found guilty for cultivation of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
However, the Act makes possession, use, and trafficking illegal, regardless it is for medicinal purposes. This predicament, in my view is a contradiction in terms. Why should cultivation be legal yet possession, use and trafficking illegal? How else does one expect to benefit from medical cannabis if all the law permits is cultivation but bars possession, use and trafficking?
As indicated earlier, there is so much evidence out there that any person looking at it objectively would have to call our current marijuana laws and policies into question. LAZ is a key stakeholder on the subject matter. We would therefore most obliged to know the official position of LAZ on the matter.
Green Party of Zambia