The NCDA through the Good Ganja Sense Campaign seeks to support the national goal of reducing substance use and dependence by addressing misconceptions about ganja and how these might potentially result in misuse of the substance, especially by vulnerable groups such as adolescents and adults prone to substance dependence. The Good Ganja Sense Campaign will attempt to clarify the potential benefits of ganja use and raise awareness about the potential harms of its misuse. More specifically, it will seek to:
- Engage evidence-based dialogue on ganja use within multiple social groups;
- Promote an ‘information lifestyle’ approach as a means of combatting myths about ganja;
- Promote dialogue on personal development and future-proofing for youth; and
- Promote positive self-representation through peer to peer messaging.
Through the above objectives, the Good Ganja Sense Campaign attempts to fill the gap in relation to evidence-based information on ganja. Scientific studies on the plant indicate that it has many potential beneficial uses for medicinal and other purposes. The drug canasol, for instance, used in the treatment of glaucoma for the last three decades, is one of the best-known outcomes of the scientific application of ganja. Canasol is made from an extract a ganja extract. Research on medicinal uses for other compounds from the plant continues. Recent discoveries suggest that patients with specific syndromes and illnesses can benefit from the therapeutic use of ganja. In fact, in some jurisdictions, decriminalization efforts have focused on the cultivation and supply of what has been called ‘medicinal marijuana.’
Notwithstanding the actual and potential beneficial uses of ganja, studies have also indicated that it can have harmful neurological, psychological and social effects, particularly on adolescent users. While some of these are short-term, such as drowsiness, the inability to keep time, and decreased ability to concentrate, others might result in long-term consequences. Young people’s inability to study or retain information could affect their performance in school or sports. And long-term ganja use has also been reported to negatively affect motivation and interest in routine activities, potentially resulting in negative life outcomes for users such as what has been called ‘a-motivational syndrome.’
Additionally, frequent long-term smoking of ganja can lead to similar kinds of health concerns for the lung and throat that come from tobacco smoking.
In light of the knowledge and information deficit concerning the risks involved in the use of ganja, the NCDA is providing clear and evidence-driven information. This campaign website provides this information as a as the country attempts to pivot away from using ganja as folk remedy or for recreation by individuals, particularly youths. In this regard, the campaign is an urgent response for an effective communication based on science.