Maiko happy that government opening up to debate on marijuana

RESPECTED musician Maiko Zulu says Zambians should take advantage of the government’s pronouncement that cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes is legal by engaging the Ministry of Health for the country’s full benefit from the trade.

Maiko, who in 2009 was jailed six months with hard labour for trafficking in five balls of cannabis, said the country and the world in general had passed the stage where knowledge was a preserve of the few, hence he welcomed the debate surrounding cultivation and use of marijuana for medical purposes.

He called for reforms at the Drug Enforcement Commission from being a mere arresting body.

“The confirmation by the home affairs minister Honourable Kampyongo that cultivation of marijuana for medical purposes is legal in Zambia has come at the right time when social debate on the subject is at the highest ever,” Maiko said.

“Let Zambians take advantage of this pronouncement by engaging the Ministry of Health in order for the country to benefit fully from the trade. Today, we are struggling with poverty and disease when we are burning money every day. I hope that we will also begin to see less arrests and prosecutions of simple users (not abusers) of the herb. Meanwhile, I can’t wait to obtain that license too.”

He said Zambia should take a leaf from economies that were booming as a result of exports of marijuana.

Maiko said Zambia had vast land that could be used to grow the ‘herb’ and consequently improve the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

“We are past that age where knowledge is a preserve of the few and I think there is quite abundant knowledge on the use of not just marijuana but other herbs as well. It’s very important that we take advantage as a country, this thing had been decriminalised a long time ago and Drug Enforcement Commission has gone to the extent of being used to clamp down on political enemies by powers that be,” Maiko said.

“We need to reform the Drug Enforcement Commission from what it is, which is merely an arresting body. For the young people, we need to approach it from the psychosocial point of view, not just criminalising everybody. As we are speaking, economies out there are booming yet some of them don’t even have land to farm the plant. Here, we are still in the ancient days where we don’t see that this plant was decriminalised for a purpose.”

He said he was elated that Zambia was opening up to the debate on the matter regarding the use of Marijuana as medicine.
Maiko said for him who was humiliated for being a user and labeled a criminal, he supported the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.

“For me having gone through the humiliation of being a user and being labeled as a criminal, I think it’s not fair. I will be 50 years in the next few years and a 50-year-old man cannot be labeled a criminal for using a herb,” said Maiko.

“Our laws need to be reformed as well. We have so many people that are congesting prisons just for using a herb. People should go beyond thinking that it’s all about smoking…smoking is probably the least use you can think of because that is recreational but when you talk of real medical issues, you see that cancer patients are being healed today because of the herb. It’s a good pronouncement by the minister. I hope they don’t go back on it and make it difficult for people who have the land and resources to start growing the herb.”

In 2009, Maiko, formerly known as St Michael, was jailed six months with hard labour, suspended for one year on one charge of trafficking in five balls of cannabis weighing 17 grammes.

Source: The Mast