Legalise fever — catch it! (692)

Happy 420 everyone!

If you’re not famil­iar with 420 (four-twenty), click the above link. Its prac­ti­cally a national hol­i­day in Amer­ica and if we’re lucky, it could very well catch on here in the UK.

Amer­ica is usu­ally sev­eral steps ahead of the UK and the US’s atti­tude to cannabis is a great exam­ple of this fact. Its where the point­less “war on drugs” began and it just might be where it ends too.

Since Obama got hit with a “legalise cannabis ques­tion” from an over­whelm­ing num­ber of peo­ple online, all of Amer­ica is rolling with fren­zied momen­tum towards legal­is­ing this hippy’s favourite plant.

The O-man shouldn’t have been so dis­mis­sive of such a seri­ous and rel­e­vant ques­tion, but he’s a pop­u­lar politi­cian so he can’t be seen to be soft on drugs.

That hasn’t pre­vented Sen­a­tor Ron Paul, who is also a pop­u­lar politi­cian, from call­ing for an end to the war on drugs, but he is a hero and lib­er­tar­ian and not afraid to express an opinion.

Amer­i­can Con­ser­v­a­tive mag­a­zine can see the pace of change regard­ing cannabis laws in Amer­ica. And the con­ser­v­a­tive right seem down with it too.

Even the main­stream press is get­ting in on the act, with Time Mag­a­zine ask­ing and answer­ing, “Why Legal­is­ing Mar­i­juana Makes Sense”.

Not only that, Time Mag­a­zine also asks and answers, “Is Pot Good For You?” Of course it is!

Why the sud­den shift in America?

Two things right now are forc­ing peo­ple to rethink their stance on cannabis in the states, one of which already applies here in the UK.

Its the econ­omy, stupid.

With this whole recession/depression non­sense, can any­one dis­re­gard the effect a legalised cannabis mar­ket would have on a nation’s GDP?

Legal­is­ing weed, in an instant, would cre­ate legit­i­mate jobs that would be taxed, not to men­tion a tax on the actual prod­uct itself. It would raise a lot of money and fast.

Wait, let me revise that. It would bring an already estab­lished and thriv­ing black mar­ket econ­omy into the main­stream. Ka-ching!

Its been said that if weed were legal and 420 were a proper hol­i­day, it would have the same sort of effect on the econ­omy as xmas. Ka-double-ching.

Weed smok­ers would will­ingly be taxed in return for not being crim­i­nalised, so says Salon Mag­a­zine. I sure as hell would be ready to pay tax on my dope, if I didn’t have to worry about being arrested for toking!

The other prob­lem in Amer­ica is one that hasn’t reached Europe yet, but it could in the future and that is gang related violence.

The south­ern bor­der of Amer­ica is where the real drug war is tak­ing place, but not between law enforce­ment and crim­i­nals, but between rival drug gangs. Police on both sides of the bor­der have been inef­fec­tual and pos­si­bly cor­rupt, when they’re not get­ting caught in the cross­fire. The death toll is sadly, quite high and its bad for busi­ness on both sides of the border.

The trou­ble on America’s bor­der is forc­ing peo­ple to realise that the drug mar­ket should be under some sort of gov­ern­ment con­trol and reg­u­la­tion, for with­out that, it leaves crim­i­nal gangs run­ning the show.

Just as the pro­hi­bi­tion of alco­hol in the states in the early part of the last cen­tury cre­ated gang­sters like Al Capone, the pro­hi­bi­tion of drugs cre­ated Pablo Esco­bar and those like him who con­trol the indus­try today.

America’s finally grasp­ing that legal­is­ing cannabis would solve more prob­lems than it could ever cre­ate. By legit­imis­ing an exist­ing indus­try, Amer­ica will reap the rewards finan­cially and it would help cre­ate a new sta­bil­ity along the Rio Grande.

Check out this report from the very respected Cato Insti­tute, which looks at the pos­i­tive effects of the decrim­i­nal­i­sa­tion of all drugs in Por­tu­gal. Its very enlight­en­ing and worth a quick read.

You’ll notice in all of debate and dis­cus­sion in Amer­ica, there hasn’t been any talk of cannabis-induced psy­chosis or schiz­o­phre­nia, nor the demon­i­sa­tion of the stronger strains of cannabis known as “skunk”. That’s because its all spin and bull­shit cre­ated here in the UK to allow our politi­cians to use weed as a polit­i­cal foot­ball that scores easy own-goals with the ill-informed electorate.

In the states, stronger weed is prized and cel­e­brated for being par­tic­u­larly “med­i­c­i­nal” and is seen to be more ben­e­fi­cial, not less. There are no “cannabis hys­te­ria mums” and no men­tion of unproven links to men­tal ill­ness. Remem­ber, a for­mer Sur­geon Gen­eral in Amer­ica (C. Everett Coop if mem­ory serves), called mar­i­juana “the most ther­a­peu­ti­cally ben­e­fi­cial sub­stance known to man”.

Con­fu­sion con­tin­ues to reign where cannabis pol­icy is con­cerned here in the UK, with ran­dom, point­less changes in clas­si­fi­ca­tion and penal­ties every cou­ple of years whether we need them or not.

Even the government’s own drug coun­selling ser­vice, Ask Frank, is telling younger callers that “cannabis is safer than alco­hol.” Its com­pletely true and in line with what the experts say, but its incon­sis­tent with the government’s own stated pol­icy, which of course, ignores the advice of the afore­men­tioned experts they employ.

There are already whis­pers in White­hall, many politi­cians here can see the scrawl on the wall, but are won­der­ing how to right all of the wrongs of the last few years. The gov­ern­ment has used the media to paint a totally false pic­ture of the dan­gers of cannabis, so how do they turn it back around?

Sim­ple, just let the lies qui­etly fade away and replace them with the promise of cold hard cash.

Is it going to take open gang war­fare on the streets of Britain for our lead­ers to deal with cannabis respon­si­bly? I hope to god it doesn’t come to that, but I don’t see any other way for them wake up and start deal­ing with reality.

The Guardian pub­lished a great report last week, which states that end­ing the pro­hi­bi­tion on drugs would save the UK around £14 bil­lion pounds. That’s an amount that can’t be ignored, espe­cially in these dif­fi­cult eco­nomic times. Law enforce­ment, the penal sys­tem could all be over­hauled and the resources could be redi­rected to actual crimes with vic­tims and everything…!

They’re search­ing for the green shoots of recov­ery, per­haps cannabis is lit­er­ally the cash crop green­ery we’ve all been seeking.

And maybe one day, we’ll all be able to openly com­mem­o­rate 420 in the man­ner appro­pri­ate to the event. And that’s exactly what this hippy is going to do right now, as I spark up a juicy, skunky spliff.