Sunday, 6 July 2014

WHY GANJA LOVERS DON'T REALLY WANT DECRIMINALIZATION


WHY WE SHOULDN’T LEGALIZE GANJA:

Let’s get something out of the way. There is no good reason for anyone to go to jail for growing, selling, buying, possessing or smoking ganja. It’s a ridiculous waste of human capital.

It is one of the single worst ideas of the 20th century.

Having said that, there are plenty of good reasons for not legalizing it.

SENSI-PHOBIA: FEAR OF A GANJA PLANET

Most people who fear the day ganja is legalized like to think that nations will descend into orgies of cannabis consumption, paralyzing populaces and production.  Needless to say, everyone who wants to smoke weed does so regardless of the law and everyone who doesn’t want to smoke weed is not going to do it just because it’s legal.  See alcohol prohibition.

Anyone who fears the proliferation of pot propagation in the islands of the Eastern Caribbean only need to consider that there is only one serious marijuana producing nation among us and that’s not because its leaders tacitly support it. It’s because St Vincent is just better suited, topographically, to ganja planting and the rest of the islands can’t compete without heavy science on their side. If St Vincent legalizes the growing and trade of ganja and does it well, the rest of us will be planting weed in our backyard for home use.

The legalization of marijuana could not, by any reasonable stretch, amount to the drugging up of nations.

However, there are dangerous side effects to legalization that everyone, especially growers, vendors and cannabis consumers need to consider.

IF GANJA BECOMES BIG BUSINESS, ALL IS LOST

Think about this: If ganja is legalized and everyone, including big business can get in on the game, the small timers will get screwed big time. Right now, marijuana is a small timers industry. Small farmers, small distributors, small consumers. There are no million dollar deals in the small island marijuana trade. A ten thousand dollar deal, considered chump change in the cocaine world, is a very big deal in Ganjaville.

Legalization would probably wipe out the small timers and result in big tobacco companies selling ganja in golden packets of pre-rolled, filtered ‘cigarettes’. Which, of course, would defeat the real economic advantage of the ganja trade – which is that it’s a bunch of small timers circulating quite a bit of cash in relatively small transactions on a very regular basis. Like the peasant farmer banana industry. Remember that?

Marijuana revenues are also free from licensing and other taxes. The growing and distribution of marijuana is beyond regulation and so benefits from not having any regulatory administrative fees attached to the price of a five bag.

Legalization would add unforeseen costs to five bags. And as everyone knows, five bags don’t get more expensive. They get smaller.  Anyone who knows what a Gros Islet five bag looks like will agree that five bags should NOT, under any circumstances, get smaller.

Now, it might seem that with a little bit of creative price gouging, like what merchants did to consumers, post-VAT, there would be more profits to be made from marijuana, domestically.

But by the laws of supply and demand, as well as the thing about purchasing parity and advantages of scale,  legalization would result in reduced profit margins for planters, growers and vendors, while at the same time, smokers would be getting smaller five bags. Not cool. Not cool at all.

Because there would be excellent revenues to be made on the medical marijuana end, regulation and licensing of the marijuana trade would inevitably result in the introduction of political corruption into ganja business. This, of course, would further reduce profit margins and lead to people with political power hoarding licenses for their friends, associates and pothead sons.

BETTER THAN WE DID FOR BOOZE

And then, there are the youth to consider. Most good ganja dealers will not sell weed to secondary school students. However, there are enough of them who make ganja available to young people that marijuana is almost as widely abused as alcohol among the under 18 set.

The Colorado experience with legalization has also taught the world some valuable lessons. While legalization will save you millions on crime prevention, enforcement, trials and imprisonment, it will also draw make ganja more popular and available among impressionable young people who are, by no means, in a position to decide such a thing for themselves.

Marijuana WILL save the small island economies if it is legalized with great speed and competitive aggression. It will help if it is legalized half-hearted and with unnecessary delay. Hell, it helps now, when it is totally illegal. Without marijuana, and cocaine, this economy would be officially sunk. Legalization is the only logical conclusion.

But before we do that, we must prepare to defend underage kids from it with far greater efficiency than we protect them from alcohol.

In conclusion, Eastern Caribbean ganja-philes don’t really care about legalization, deep down inside. What they care about is the end of political, cultural, religious and economic persecution. The only thing worse than legalization is persecution.

The end of persecution is all ganja-philes really want.

If small island leaders actually get wise and start understanding what ganja means to their economies, the very same ganja-philes who are calling for legalization today will live to regret it.

Just imagine Ralph Gonzalves’ and Kenny Anthony’s chief headhunters adding up the value of the ganja trade and waking up to what they have been missing out on. Once they see those multi-million dollar signs, they will be coming for us like lawyers circling the sky around old peasant landowners. They will eat us alive.

What is really needed is decriminalization that exploits ALL the benefits of marijuana while vigorously defending against ALL its dangers – something we never did for alcohol. We need special dispensations for growing hemp and medical marijuana, strong penalties for selling to underage teens and people who intend to trade our wonderfully legal ganja in places where it is still illegal.

We need new social norms about when, where and around whom it is NOT COOL to smoke weed and finally…

We need cops to be working hard on higher priorities (you know, cocaine, murder, white collar crime amongst politicians and professionals) and for the US Department of State and the DEA to smoke a fucking joint and stop scaring Caribbean leaders just so America can screw us over on ganja, the same way the bastards did with bananas.

The end of persecution. The protection of the youth. The aggressive integration of ganja into the agricultural economy. The maintenance of good relations with friends who don’t want to legalize.

You see? The current generation of Caribbean leaders can’t pull it off. St Vincent is the only country where the economic reality forces leaders to cut ganja some real slack. The rest of them will sabotage and misguide the legalization effort, because unlike Ralph, they just don’t get it.

And unless St Vincent strikes out on its own, it will not legalize its number one cash crop, because the current talks will fail. And if St Vincent fails, St Lucia fails, because a very large percentage of the contribution of ganja to this island’s economy stems from the fact that we are the only thing that stands between them and the Euros to be made in Martinique.

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