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4/20 global weed holiday: Central Drug Authority sends strong cautionary message

April 20 is weed's unofficial holiday around the world, including South Africa. Central Drug Authority Chairperson Nandi Mayathula-Khoza sends a strong cautionary message against the planned fatal '4/20' marijuana celebrations around the country.

Today (April 20), aka World Marijuana Day, marks the 4/20 celebration events around world. The term ‘4/20’ started as a secret code among California police and high teenage stoners in America, but has gradually spread widely and is celebrated annually by cannabis communities across the world, including South Africa.

While this is a joyous day for some (marijuana communities) but with fatal consequences, there are also concerns about its relevance and the safety of those participating in these events, in light of the growing rate of substance abuse among school learners.

At the back of this widespread weed smoking culture is the risk of cannabis poisoning in children, which is said (report) to have increased fourfold after global dagga legalisation for medical or recreational use, primarily due to edibles – through gummies and other foods laced with marijuana, with one study reporting an uptick in fatal car accidents on the evening of April 20, which is sadly even higher among teenage drivers.

While cannabis poisoning may not directly lead to death, in serious cases, high intake (of cannabis) can lead to abnormal heart rhythms, comas and seizures, or suicide.

Hundreds of Leondale High School learners attended the ‘4/20’ weed holiday awareness campaign on Thursday April 19.
Leondale High School learner delivered an impassioned performance on the day, cautioning fellow learners about the dangers of drugs abuse.

How to get involved with drug addiction and 4/20 awareness

We can’t really copy everything that they do and we think it’s right

– Ms Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, South Africa’s Central Drug Authority Chairperson

Speaking at the 4/20 awareness campaign at Leondale High School on Friday, Chairperson of the Central Drug Authority Nandi Mayathula-Khoza, pleaded with hundreds of learners and teachers gathered to report those who’re selling illegal substances in the communities.   

She cautioned the crowd against mushrooming drug industries and new ‘legal highs’ around the world. “So we can’t really copy everything that they do and we think it’s right.”

Mayathula-Khoza added: “So what you’re actually doing by saying ‘no’ to drugs, you’re actually saving lives. And remember drug abuse is a chronic and relapsing disease. Once you start doing it, it’s very difficult to stop. But it’s very important to think about what the speakers here today have said, that ‘you can still change your lives’.

Central Drug Authority Chairperson Nandi Mayathula-Khoza pictured with Leondale High School learners, World Changers Candidate Chairperson Lucas Mahlakgane (far right) and Ekurhuleni Ward Councillor Nqabayethu Tshabalala (far left).

She also implored learners to report those who’re selling any form of drugs within school premises. “If you see a vendor, a person who sells food and that person is selling space cookies, or lollipop laced with dagga, please report that person to the Principal, and the Principal will do something about it and report them to the police.”

In closing, she congratulated Leondale High School and the World Changers Candidate anti-drug NPO for this much-needed campaign, adding: “We also want to convey a message to the (affected) families and communities that ‘people who abuse drugs are not well, and they need to be assisted’. When you see a family member, or anyone in the community abusing drugs, try to help that person because they have no power; because you have the power, you can help them.

“So we encourage families and communities to take people who use drugs, especially children and the youth, to the treatment centres to be assisted. There are government treatment centers where you don’t have to pay.”

Cautioning the crowd against hating and stigmatising people addicted to drugs, she said: “Let’s stop calling them ‘bo nyaope boys’ because if we continue to do that, they’ll continue to self-destruct. As I said, drug abuse is a disease, they’re powerless and they need help.”

Tankiso Komane
Tankiso Komane
A Tshwane University of Technology journalism graduate, Tankiso Komane has a vast experience in print & broadcast media business and has worked for some of the country’s biggest daily newspapers, including The Sowetan, The Citizen, The Times, and The New Age. Through her varied work as a journalist, notably as a copywriter for SABC1 (On-Air promotions) and as a publicist for Onyx Communications, she has developed an in-depth understanding of the nature of the media business and how to use it for the purpose of exposure. Her expertise in journalism across various disciplines, coupled with a good reputation, has laid the foundation of a new kind "trust in Journalism" as the media ecosystem continues to digitally evolve.
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