Pubdate: Thu, 11 Jul 2013
Source: Virgin Islands Daily News, The (VI)
Copyright: 2013 Virgin Islands Daily News
Author: Levelle T. Henry


Is our Legislature really considering legalizing prostitution?

There are many reasons against sanctioning prostitution, on moral 
principles. The usual complaints: degradation to women and 
degeneration of societal standards, etc. There is also a detrimental 
economic aspect to legal prostitution in our smalltown community.

Unless we start "bunny ranches" like the state of Nevada and invite 
nonVirgin Islanders to partake of prostitution services, legalized 
prostitution will not enhance our economy. Prostitution in a 
community our size will remove money from our residents' 
pocketbooks-like gambling.

The money individuals spend on gambling and prostitution are better 
spent on self-improvement or family obligations. That is not to say 
people are not entitled to their own ideas of "fun." However, our 
community must always think about the financial benefits of legal 
enterprises. Legalized prostitution would increase Income Tax and 
Gross Receipts Tax revenues, but it would not improve the quality of 
the community or improve the economy.

If the community is to consider controversial issues to increase tax 
revenue, let's consider industrial hemp and decriminalizing or 
legalizing marijuana as an export product to countries that have 
already decriminalized or legalized the plants' use.

I believe the villainy of marijuana is diminishing throughout the 
world with the increase of research comparing the beneficial and 
adverse effects of the herb use to the effects of cigarette and alcohol.

Marijuana has various medicinal benefits along with producing what we 
call a "high." Eighteen of the United States and the District of 
Columbia have decriminalized marijuana for medical or recreational use.

The reason hemp needs legalization in the United States is unclear to 
me, except to deny the use of marijuana. That is something to be researched.

I know of three European countries that have decriminalized the sale 
and use of marijuana: Belgium, Germany and The Netherlands, Amsterdam 
in particular.

As usual, the U.S. Virgin Islands may be ignoring a way to enhance 
our financial economy. Naysayers act as if alcohol or cigarettes are 
greatly different from marijuana. They seem to forget that 
decriminalization or legalization does not allow free reign of the 
product sales or a "free for all" for users.

Comprehensive legislation and registration and inspection of growers 
raising marijuana plants would greatly diminish contraband and black 
market activity, which responsible adult citizens would acknowledge 
exists regardless of the laws-even with cigarette and alcohol.

This is the reason for the use of the words comprehensive laws. Even 
decriminalized or legalized home growth and use could be advocated- 
but they, too, would have to be registered and inspected quarterly or 
biannually- again to diminish black market activity.

Absolutely no one registered for growing marijuana for personal use 
could sell the product for profit to anyone. This would defeat the 
economic purpose of the product.

Although I don't understand how we are enacting the use of the 
industrial hemp legislation, I see it as a step toward enhancing our economy.

In the U. S., the legal value of hemp was not considered until the 
1930s. Prior to that time it was used openly: industrially, medically 
and recreationally. Hemp has been villainized because of the threat 
to other economies' profitability, namely clothing, medicine, paper & 
fibrous products as well as some I am probably am unaware of. In 
various forms, one crop - hemp, infringes on the cotton, silk and 
synthetic clothing material industries, the medicinal sedatives that 
are synthetically created by pharmaceutical companies and the paper 
and fiber companies that use trees and oil-based synthetics to create 
paper, rope, packaging products and more.

Hopefully, we have a contingency searching for a variety of 
hemp-producing businesses so we will have businesses producing bolts 
of cloth, paper products or lubricants in the next five years.

Consequently, we would be seeing fields of hemp rather than 
nonproductive "tan tan." We might consider using sections of the 
abandoned HOVENSA refinery as an industrial business area.

This is not about whether a person agrees with the use of industrial 
hemp or decriminalized/legalized marijuana-grade hemp (Cannabis 
sativa and Cannabis indicia). Hemp varieties (primarily in the sativa 
family) are an innocuous bush that at worst creates a product less 
harmful than alcohol, addictive pills and definitely, cigarettes.

At best it simplifies the complexity and difficulty of harvesting the 
base product for paper and packaging products, but most important it 
improves the condition of the world's forests and jungles- 
consequently, the quality of the air we breathe. It also acts as a 
nonsynthetic sedative, treatment for glaucoma and other medicinal uses.

Imagine what the world's forests would look like if we harvested a 
fastgrowing, tall, fibrous bush for these products rather than trees. 
Trees might end up being used mainly for telephone poles and raw 
lumber - decreasing the rash impact it currently has on our 
environment. Only trees with consumptive or medicinal properties not 
found in bushes would have to cut or, preferably, pruned.

What can the Virgin Islands do with harvested hemp and the production 
of marijuana? Many things, but the simplest to organize, in my 
opinion, is the growth of raw hemp for wholesale to a variety of 
production companies locally and internationally that would export 
hemp products.

Also the wholesale of organic, recreational marijuana-the most 
controversial aspect of hemp production - to states or countries that 
have decriminalized or legalized it would be economically profitable.

I believe that certain community members overlook the fact that there 
are many aspects to the decriminalization or legalization of hemp and 
marijuana. There are many options. The simplest would be to leave it 
illegal and only legalize growth for exportation as described 
earlier: to have "grow houses" that would act as wholesalers to 
countries such as The Netherlands, Canada or Germany as well as to 
various United States - assuming that it would be less expensive to 
grow it in our warm climate than in cold climates.

Also, it would create legal jobs for the people in the territory who 
already grow marijuana and would teach them business skills.

I think that people living in the areas where marijuana is legalized 
would consider expanding their businesses to warmer climates as well. 
The workforce for this industry should come solely from areas where 
hemp and marijuana are decriminalized or legalized - to relieve the 
overload of the workforce for that industry.

This would make a significant contribution to our tax revenue.

As with rum revenues, the federal government might consider 
decreasing grants by allowing us to export marijuana. 
Decriminalization or legalization on the local level will have to be 
determined by the Virgin Islands community. There are various ways to 
do this with discussion in the community.

I am always amazed at the viewpoint of naysayers to many good 
economic enhancing suggestions, particularly, with marijuana and 
development. People act like it would be a free for all with 
marijuana being sold "willy-nilly" and smoked as individuals wished. 
That would be far from the truth.

Any legislation includes comprehensive rules. If marijuana was 
decriminalized or legalized for use within the territory, it would be 
up to the community to decide how we want the legalization to 
manifest itself, for example in cafes- as in Amsterdam, which do not 
serve alcohol but do serve light fare - or in various open air areas 
on each island.

Levelle T. Henry, St. Croix
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom