Namibia: No Official Proposal to Legalise Cannabis Yet

Medical marijuana.

Concerned groups advocating the legalisation of marijuana are yet to make official submissions to the relevant authorities on why Namibia should legalise the use of cannabis.

This was revealed by the chairperson of the Law Reform Development Commission (LRDC), Yvonne Dausab, last week during president Hage Geingob's Khomas regional townhall meeting.

At the meeting, Dausab said the government has made several calls for concerned groups to make well-researched submissions on why marijuana should be legalised, "setting out the basis on which that should be done".

Despite the platform being created "a few years ago", she noted that there hasn't been any formal submission from concerned members of the public.

She was responding to allegations made by the leader of the Ganja Users of Namibia (Gun), Brian Jaftha, that the government was infringing on certain citizens rights by criminalising the use, possession, growing and selling of cannabis and cannabis products.

Jaftha also accused the Namibian Police of harassing him by searching his house and motor-vehicle without search warrants.

"By prohibiting cannabis, I feel like the government is violating that right. My rights are being violated because I get stopped and searched by the police, as if I belong to the government. I don't say they can't do it, but they must do it in a professional way," he stressed.

He also demanded that the government releases people who have been arrested for possessing, using and selling marijuana.

According to him, ganja users do not deserve to be imprisoned amongst killers, rapists and corrupt people, but were supposed to be rehabilitated.

Gun and the Rastafarian United Front (RUF) have recently been protesting publicly against the law that criminalises the use, growing, possession and selling of cannabis in Namibia.

The two groups, led by Jaftha, are arguing that the Abuse of Dependence-Producing Substances and Rehabilitation Centres Act, No 41 of 1971 was ineffective and outdated, and was in violation of some citizens' fundamental rights.

In the absence of any submission to amend the law, Dausab said the existing legislation will remain in force, and those found contravening it will be dealt with in accordance with the law.

"In Namibia, we have what we call collective aspirations and values of a particular nation. It is incorrect to imply that the entire Namibian nation wants marijuana to be legalised. If people want to legalise marijuana, they can make their well-researched formal submissions why that should be done," she noted.

She further stated that the Ministry of Justice also has a platform for public participation at which concerned members of the public can provide information from both sides on why marijuana should or should not be legalised.

"So, there is an opportunity for consultation, and I don't think we should dismiss it entirely. But we must follow the procedures that have been put in place to address questions around law reform. That should answer the question, whether people's rights are being violated," she added.

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