WINDHOEK – Ganja Users of Namibia (GUN) and scores of Namibian Rastafarians on Saturday protested against the prohibition of cannabis, appealing to Namibian authorities to emulate South Africa and other countries that have decriminalised the recreational and other use of dagga.
The demonstration which took place at B1 shopping centre to the Angolan Embassy was attended by hundreds of Ganja users and Rastafarians grieving and chanting for the legalisation of the herb.
GUN was established in 2006 to represent and stand up for the rights of all ganja users in Namibia.
According to Borro Indungula, a Gun representative, the obsolete apartheid law, ‘Abuse of dependence-producing substances and the Rehabilitation Centers Act of 1971,’ is outdated and he and the other Rastafarians want this piece of legislation to be repealed or amended by government.
“We call upon the Members of Parliament to stop the police from arresting ganja users because they are not criminals. That is an unconstitutional law and we feel deprived from our rights,” stressed Indungula who threatened should the police continue arresting dagga smokers, his organisation will be left with no other choice but to attack prisons and demand the freedom of its members.
Apart from the fact that Gun claims that ganja is a medicinal and that it heals a lot of sicknesses, Indungula also clarified that cannabis is part of the Rastafarians Sacramento and there is no way the government can separate Rastafarians from their ‘culture’ to smoke dagga.
A petition was signed, which will be taken to Parliament today.
The protester says that if Parliament refuses to accept the petition, they will contribute money and drag government to court for riding roughshod over their rights and access to weed.
Namibian politician and human-rights activist Rosa Namises who also came to support the protesters told New Era her mother used to treat her with wild dagga when she got sick and she also complained of why the government cannot legalise the herb and use dagga as it is a remedy for diseases such as cancer and diabetes.
She added, “Where do they take the bags of dagga that they confiscate from our people? We don’t believe that they really burn those drugs.”
The use of cannabis for recreational and medical purposes is prohibited in most countries; however, many have adopted a policy of decriminalisation in countries such as South Africa which got its legality last year.
Ghana, Swaziland, Malawi and Zimbabwe were on the fast track to legalization of Marijuana in Africa but the question remains if Namibia will ever legalise or decriminalise the herb.
Ronnie Zaahl who travelled from Opuwo in Kunene Region, to participate in the march acknowledged that fighting for the legalisation of cannabis will cause a lot of controversies in the community but they have to fight for their rights anyways.
He said, “What most people don’t understand is that there is more to cannabis than just smoking. I use cannabis lotion for my skin and also use it as medicine. People need to do more research about the herb.”
Gun president Brian Jaftha also told the media that, “Since we are in the economic crisis, cannabis can help the country economically through the sale of its products.”
A lot of local artists such Ras Sheehama, Erna Chimu, Ngatu and Shikololo just to mention a few, were also among the majority that protested against the prohibition of the herb.