2 Legal Drugs in South Africa
Sep 21 2022

UNODCCP (1999) suggests that a large proportion of South African adults are in a social environment conducive to drug use, i.e. one where there is some level of social support for, exposure to and discrimination against drug use. These social factors generally seem to be amplified by certain psychological factors, namely tolerance for drug use, personal need or attraction to drug use. Illicit drugs are used in a fairly uncontrolled environment, that is, in private life, that is, not in the company of other people (when this happens in society, friends and / or relatives are mainly the society of choice) and at home (in the general population, public use takes place mainly in metropolitan areas and cities bordering these centers, clubs/discos being mainly the places of choice; among offenders, the street (in the case of cannabis) and the place of a drug trafficker (illegal drugs other than cannabis) are quite common Places of use (UNODCCP, 1999). Particularly common reasons for illicit drug use (at least among people of African cultural descent) appear to alter mood and need to cope with it; In people who have been accepted into drug-related treatment, problems such as habit, lack of energy and sleep problems seem to motivate their drug use in particular; Solvent users, in particular, associate their solvent use with getting high and breaking the monotony of their daily lives (in fact, underlie the popularity of mood swings and the management of difficulties as reasons for illegal drug use among African groups, and evidence that African households (especially female-headed households) have the lowest average income in South Africa, what underlies the above. Conclusion that illicit drug use may increase in socio-economically marginalized sectors) (UNODC, 2006). Illicit drug cultivation appears to be limited to the widespread cultivation of cannabis (but not opium or coca) in the eastern half of South Africa and parts of the north. There are large rural areas with good conditions for growing cannabis. The estimated area for drug cultivation has been a controversial issue in recent years, with unrealistic figures presented by the authorities.

According to current estimates, the area of cultivated land is between 1,000 and 1,200 hectares. This estimate still places South Africa among the top four sources of plant cannabis in the world, according to Interpol (UNODC, 2003). Considerable efforts are devoted to both crop eradication and confiscation, with large quantities being discovered each year by the police. The growing culture of cannabis, the lack of security and the lack of intelligence within police services have been blamed for the increase in the trade in illegal cannabis. Some states and territories have programs that refer people addicted to alcohol or other drugs to treatment and/or education programs where they can get help instead of going through the criminal justice system. Federal and state laws provide penalties for possession, use, production, sale, or driving under the influence of illegal drugs. Penalties range from fines and rehabilitation orders to driving bans and jail time. and different batches of an illegally manufactured drug may contain different amounts of the drug and other unidentified additives. If you are convicted of drug trafficking in Part 1, you risk a fine, imprisonment for up to 10 years, or both. Drug trafficking in Part 2 will be punished more severely: up to 25 years in prison.

The penalty for trafficking in addictive substances is also related to whether the drug is considered to be merely addictive or dangerous (List 2 drugs, Part 1 or Part 2). You may think that “possession” means having the drugs on your person. However, the law does not see it that way. Chapter IV, section 20 of the Drugs and Drug Trafficking Act 1992 states that the prevalence rates of illicit drug use in South Africa (Table 6) appear to be significantly lower than in some other countries such as the United States and Australia, although it is difficult to compare different surveys and population groups. Current cannabis use among South African men (3.9%) and women (0.4%) is about half of the U.S. rates – 8.2% for men and 6.1% for women aged 12 and older (Department of Health and Human Services, 2005). In Australia, current cannabis use is 8.9% among men and 4.6% among women aged 14 and over (Australian Institute of Health & Welfare, 2005). Annual cannabis prevalence rates are lowest in South America (2.6 per cent), Asia (2.1 per cent) and highest in Western and Central Europe (7.4 per cent), Africa (8.1 per cent) and North America (10.3 per cent), the United States (31 per cent) (UNODC, 2006).

Similarly, the current prevalence of other illicit drugs (tranquilizers, cocaine/crack, heroin, club drugs) in the United States and Australia is about twice as high as in South Africa. Another contributing factor to the growing importance of illicit drug use in South African society is the high unemployment rate. Among the non-white population, social injustice and the weakening of family ties resulting from decades of apartheid policies have created an environment in which a temporary escape from the harsh reality of daily life is often sought through the use of psychoactive substances. Among the white population, anecdotal evidence also supports a link between the increase in drug abuse and the availability of drugs and the psychological consequences of adjusting to life in the “new” South Africa (UNOCD, 2002). Even with the end of apartheid in 1992 and the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994, whites (and to a lesser extent the Coloreds and Asians) continue to occupy a privileged position in South Africa. Many black Africans have now begun working in middle-class positions since 1994. Significant portions of the growing middle-class population (regardless of ethnicity) now live in “gated communities,” which are mostly located in suburban neighborhoods around major cities. They can afford Western-style housing, usually have cars, and have stable employment in business, academia, industry, and government. South Africa is a society in transition.

Changes in political, economic and social structures in South Africa, before and after apartheid, make the country more vulnerable to drug use.