The BRICS nations comprise of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The members are all developing or newly industrialised countries, with a significant influence on regional and global affairs. What is the Brics’ stance on marijuana and why should you care?
Russia has the one of the world’s most intolerant drug policies, with no distinction between soft and hard drugs, and lengthy prison sentences for dealing and trafficking. Called a “dangerous gateway drug” by Russia’s Federal Drug Control Service, the authorities made it clear that there are no plans to legalize marijuana. According to Viktor Ivanov, Director of the Federal Narcotics Service of Russia, “Marijuana users have a 50 or 60 times higher risk of switching to heroin. There is one step from dope to heroin.” He added words to the effect that those who smoke marijuana for recreational purposes later suffer from depression, dissatisfaction with life and schizophrenia. He did not quote any scientific research to back up this statement. In December last year Ivanov said that Uruguay’s moves towards marijuana legalization was a mistake.
Why BRICS nations policy on drugs impacts everyone
As reported in the Daily Maverick, the Russia/South African Drug policy summit held in Durban, South Africa could well be the nail in the coffin of any drug policy reform in South Africa any time soon. A quote from the recent press release reads as follows: “In South Africa we have adopted a zero tolerance stance against illicit drugs and, as the President of South Africa recently announced, we welcome the establishment of the SA Narcotics Enforcement Bureau, which will embrace our back-to-basics approach towards law enforcement and crime fighting. Just as we have to unite within our respective countries, so too must we – as a global village – stand in unity to fight against common enemies, including those who poison the vulnerable with illicit substances.
This is significant because for the last five years, marijuana activists in South Africa have been preparing for the Trial of the Cannabis Plant, an event which was to take place in March 2016, but has now been postponed until later in the year.
This “Cannabis Trial” in South Africa is significant because if the Constitutional Court in South Africa declares the laws redundant, these same activists intend to take the case all the way to the International Court of Human Rights – taking every government in the world to task on the issue of illegal use of the marijuana plant so that this plant never has to be put on trial again, anywhere in the world.
The fact that the South African and Russian governments have reiterated that there will be no plans to legalize marijuana is bad news for these South African activists who have tried so hard to put an end to the illegality of cannabis globally, and it also spells disaster for any individual within the BRICs nations who were hoping for acceptance of the plant, both for medicinal and recreational use.