IT’S official: South Africans are the world dagga smoking champions.
A report from a UN agency shows that around eight percent of South Africans use the recreational drug, twice the global average of four percent.
The temptation to laugh this off as a big joke should be avoided. While light recreational use of marijuana is probably not that harmful, the report suggests that South Africans are using it in a far more destructive way.
The habitual abuse of marijuana has consequences for the lungs as well as for mental health, not to mention productivity.
It can cause users to lose their jobs and it can severely impact on family life.
More alarming is the suggestion that abuse is rife among South African boys under the age of sixteen.
Such large scale abuse is destructive, placing a massive burden on health care and weakening social institutions that are the cornerstone of our society.
And marijuana is not the only problem.
Almost 240 000 South Africans are on the drug cocaine, a dangerous and highly addictive narcotic.
And a further 270 000 use the drug Tik, an amphetamine with very damaging effects on physical and mental health.
Add to that the fact that around 1,8 million South Africans are addicted to alcohol and you have a picture of a society that is in the throes of a massive social crisis.
We have been targeted by the drug lords, and the authorities have been aware of this.
But we have failed to defend ourselves against the scourge of drugs.
Our police force has been without a commissioner for over a year. The Scorpions, a unit which tenaciously fought organised crime in the face of political indifference, has been closed down. We are experiencing the consequences of these actions. The drug lords are in the driver’s seat.