Big up to Mario Oriani-Ambrosini. This week he stood up in parliament and appealed to President Jacob Zuma to legalise medicinal marijuana as an alternative treatment for cancer patients.
The Inkatha Freedom Party politician was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer last year. There is no stage five. His personal treatment plan included marijuana. If PW Botha were still president, this admission alone would have got Ambrosini ten years in jail and forty stitches for the police dog bites.
Would Zuma support the Medical Marijuana Bill? How could he not? I have never met a Zulu man who hasn’t smoked weed at some point in his life. Then again, most of the Zulu men I have met were the ones selling me weed in the first place. But that was then, when I was young and foolish.
I can’t imagine Sbu Mpisane returning to his La Lucia mansion after a hard day of doing whatever it is that nobody, not even the NPA or Sars, knows, loading up a gold-plated bong and sucking down a few sticky heads of primo intsangu before dispatching Shauwne to the kitchen to whip up a plate of toasted caviar and lobster munchies garnished with white truffles and drizzled with gold dust.
Ambrosini said it was a crime against humanity to deny medicinal marijuana to cancer patients. He was probably high when he said it, so we should cut him some slack. What Bashir al-Assad is doing to his own people in Syria is a crime against humanity. Let’s keep things in perspective.
Having said that, I was in an oncologist’s office in Morningside eighteen months ago. Me, my sister, my father and my mother. Mum was in a wheelchair because lung cancer makes you lose your appetite, which very quickly makes you lose all sorts of other things. She hadn’t yet come to terms with the fact that she was dying. I’m not sure she ever really did. When I tried to take her for lunch on Mother’s Day, she said, “Wait until I’m feeling better.” She ran out of life before we could have that lunch.
The oncologist’s office was filled with oil paintings and sculptures and the fripperies of the rich. Perhaps he needed it. He was, after all, a doctor whose patients were almost guaranteed to die, regardless of whatever treatment he recommended.
He flashed his dazzling white teeth and used words like “palliative” and tossed out helpful phrases like “there’s no point bankrupting yourselves on the most expensive chemo”. In other words, the cheap shit is just as ineffective.
While he was showing us, on his laptop, the progression of the cancer, I asked if marijuana might not be an option. Again, the smile. A little less dazzling, this time.
“No,” he said, looking at me as if I were slightly retarded. “That doesn’t work.”
I didn’t mean as a cure. I meant as a way of way of stimulating my mother’s appetite. As a way of easing the pain that would eventually see her crying out for her own long-dead mother.
The drugs he prescribed didn’t work. From what I saw, at horrifically close quarters, they made my mother’s last few months infinitely worse. It wasn’t his fault. Specialists are trained not to divert from their well-trodden path.
In America, the possession of marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington. It has been decriminalised in fourteen states and is legal, medicinally, in twenty states.
In Uruguay, you can do whatever the hell you like with it.
In Spain and Switzerland, you can grow as much as you want on your property.
The Dutch don’t give a damn about it.
And in South Australia, which has Adelaide as its capital, you can legally grow one non-hydroponic plant for personal use. In Canberra, you may grow two hydroponic plants. Bloody anal Aussies.
If you want to use marijuana because you’ve got a touch of the old cancer or simply because you want to kick back and have a bit of a laugh, you might want to avoid the progressive democracies of Bulgaria, China, Latvia, Somalia, Syria, Slovakia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
And, of course, South Africa.