Should drugs be decriminalised?

CapeTalk/702's Eusebius Mackaiser spoke to Shaun Shelly of Addiction Division, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at University of Cape Town, about the possibilities of decriminalising the use of recreational drugs.

Recreational drugs are mind-altering chemical substances that are used for non-medicinal, leisure purposes. Among them are methamphetamine, cocaine, crack cocaine, heroin, phencyclidine (PCP), MDMA or Ecstasy, and cannabis.

When asked how dangerous different kinds of drugs are, Shelly said that everything has inherent risk that can either be reduced or increased.

In the field of drugs, it is inherently policy that has made the use of drugs particularly dangerous.

Shaun Shelly, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at UCT

He says the problem comes when there is criminalisation of drugs, adding that he believes we've had centuries of non-problematic use of cannabis in Africa until the colonials decided to burn it.

I am not convinced with the argument that this drug is safer than that drug.

Shaun Shelly, Department of Psychiatry and Mental Health at UCT

Shelly highlighted alcohol as a bigger social problem, with greater public health implications than most drugs, in particular related to cost to the nation. It is legal and easily available and it is not considered a drug. For these reasons many people don't exercise due caution when using it.

Shelley argues that the disease model of addiction is not accurate and only 10% of drug users become addicts. The majority of people stop using after a period of time with no negative consequences.

CapeTalk/702 listeners called in to share their views on the use of drugs and decriminalistion of drugs.

Listen to the full conversation below:

Read More
How to get through the holidays when grief-stricken

How to get through the holidays when grief-stricken

Holiday cheer isn't felt by all families over Christmas time. Some experience grief or are reminded of loved one's they have lost.

Suspected lesbian hate crime indicative of SA's social crisis, says activist

Suspected lesbian hate crime indicative of SA's social crisis, says activist

LGBTI activist and researcher Phumi Mtetwa says that hate crimes are a societal problem which need to be tackled by all citizens.

How far has South Africa come in fighting HIV/Aids?

How far has South Africa come in fighting HIV/Aids?

Experts have highlighted the importance of changing dangerous behaviour and educating communities to eradicate the disease.

Why the 'Blesser craze' isn't so black and white

Why the 'Blesser craze' isn't so black and white

There's a lot more nuance involved in the pursuit of nice things, explains Wits lecturer Dr Danai Mupotsa and first-hand blessees.

Teachers called out for racism at Pretoria Girls High

Teachers called out for racism at Pretoria Girls High

Disciplinary and mediation processes have begun to make the school more accommodating of racial and cultural diversity.

Civil society and SA govt must call a truce to work together - experts

Civil society and SA govt must call a truce to work together - experts

The conflict between civil organisations and the state needs to come to an end in order to mobilise social change in South Africa.