Pubdate: Sun, 27 Apr 2014
Source: Jamaica Observer (Jamaica)
Copyright: 2014 The Jamaica Observer Ltd,
Author: Mark Wignall


Two years ago, right after the US presidential election, a reader 
wrote me the following: 'I just read your recent article on the 
recently concluded US election and one thing stuck out at me beyond 
anything else. It is the fact that one of the items on the ballots 
that Americans were asked to decide on was the legalisation of 
marijuana. Many of the states, even those in the conservative 
mid-West of the country, voted not only to legalise marijuana for 
medicinal purposes, but also for personal use.

'I think Jamaica and the rest of the Caribbean are missing the boat 
in relation to how we deal with marijuana. I think marijuana, like 
coffee, bananas, and sugar cane... could become the next big export 
crop, earning valuable foreign exchange and putting our young people to work.

'The last time I looked unemployment was too high, especially amongst 
young men. Why not put them to work farming marijuana plantations, 
with reduced THC content and exporting this to countries that have 
legalised marijuana for medicinal purposes?

'Most of the marijuana grown in the US for medicinal purposes is 
grown using technology which removes the majority of the THC content. 
Why can't we develop this and market it? There are not a lot of 
alternatives out there in terms of what we can and cannot export, but 
just as how we regulate our other agricultural exports, ie ackee, 
coffee, etc, the Government can put stringent rules in place for 
those persons who are interested in growing marijuana for export.

'There would have to be regulations in place for those persons who 
wish to develop this. In addition, the Government would have to speak 
to their foreign counterparts seeing as we have all these treaties 
etc, but the war on drugs has not helped the Caribbean. It seems a 
bit hypocritical to me that America is demanding the destruction of 
ganja farms all over the world, and yet at the same time their people 
are voting to legalise it.'

The rest, as they would typically say, is history. Two years have 
gone and America, the country that used to give us assistance in 'the 
war on drugs', has sold us a six for a nine because we could not see 
through that powerful country's double-dealing.

It assisted us in severely debilitating our growing of ganja in the 
1980s under the Eddie Seaga-led JLP Government while the state of 
California began its experimentation and huge production upticks and 
the Appalachian states continued to do what they always did -- grow 
weed and produce moonshine.

Today, America is ahead of us because when it acts, even though the 
federal government has real power, the individual states' first 
responsibility is to secure employment for their constituents, and, 
any autonomy they possess will be used in that pursuit. Case in 
point, Colorado, which appears as if they began planning many years ago.

We have begun the talking aspect of the great ganja debate, but of 
course, the biggest talker is the Government, and the ganja actors 
will have to wait on the snail's pace of government before they can 
get their act together.

If the logistics hub is any example, it will be all talk, talk, talk.
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