By Bianca Silva
In the last two weeks posters on campus entitled “Why, whether you smoke it or not, you should be actively involved in getting Cannabis sativa legalized” have caught the attention of many students.
Sisters and students, Gaby and Leigh Stadler put up the posters aiming to create awareness about Cannibus sativa. The posters described the various uses of cannabis beyond narcotic properties. A renewable source of fuel, building material, its medicinal properties and material for clothing were some of the uses mentioned.
Gaby and Leigh said that many of the posters had been taken down by the next day and that Leigh and a few people who joined in put up another 15 posters in addition to the previous twenty. The sisters thought it was because “maybe people thought they were cool, or maybe some people just didn’t like them”.
Gaby Stadler was inspired by the History 3 course which deals with South African Environmental history. “Marijuana is illegal despite its amazing properties” said Gaby. Leigh said “it made me angry.”
Gaby explained that there were many academic articles on cannabis, “you’d be surprised how many people are united by there being no reason for it to be illegal” she said. She explained how alcohol and tobacco have slipped through the acceptable line, and likened the criminalization of marijuana to the 1930’s prohibition. She said that “tobacco is bad for you but it doesn’t have any other uses, smoking marijuana is bad for you but it has many uses, such as a food source”. Gaby said “people think it is bad because it is illegal, you have faith in the legal system.”
“People are really afraid to talk about it, like so many things on campus” said Gaby. Leigh Stadler described the students as being depoliticised. “It’s like people think the fight is over” she said. “Rhodes students are especially apathetic” said Gaby and explained that they don’t seem interested in controversial issues.
History lecturer, Dr Alan Kirkaldy, said that it was easier in apartheid times, there were big issues people could get heated about but “today people should be talking about HIV and cannabis. There are new fights” he said, “just because we won one struggle, it doesn’t mean there aren’t others to fight.” He explained that it is likely that Cannabis will be legalized for its fuel properties by 2010 at the latest, “the fuel crisis is far greater than anyone realizes, we’re going to have to find alternatives” he said.
The final line of the posters read: “Stigmatism is the biggest problem, so start to talk about it.” The sisters believed the posters were a very good way of getting people to think about it. “You can’t help but see them” said Gaby Stadler. “Everyone should be doing this, getting other people to think about this stuff. Not just think about it themselves” she said.