The war for the business of Marijuana is on.
Some policies just don’t make sense!
Jack Daniel’s is a brand of sour mash Tennessee whiskey that is the highest selling American whiskey in the world. It is produced in Lynchburg, Tennessee. Now hear this: Jack Daniel’s home county of Moore is a dry county, so you can’t buy this fine liquid at stores or restaurants within the county. This status reaches back to the passage of state prohibition laws in the early 20th century. While federal prohibition ended in 1933 state prohibition laws remain in effect. What gives? There are two hundred mentions of wine in the Bible.
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On January 1, 2014 Colorado marijuana shops will opened their doors to sell recreational marijuana, a first for the third millennium in the developed countries. Why are we so scared of cannabis?
The use of recreational cannabis goes as far back as the tenth millennium BC in China. According to many, cannabis use is also well documented in the bible. Scholars believe the use of cannabis for its psychoactive properties are well documented in the Old Testament. Kaneh-bosm is the Hebrew word used by King Solomon and Moses to create anointing oil. We are stating the next sentence with respect to Christians: there are claims that Jesus of Nazareth used cannabis. As well archaeologists found a 2000-year-old Scythian mummy frozen in the Siberian permafrost buried with cannabis and paraphernalia. It is indisputable that cannabis was used in biblical times.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) published a list of countries (and some territories) by the annual prevalence of cannabis use as a percentage of the population aged 15–64. According to the UNODC, 13.7% of US citizens and 12.6% of Canadian citizens make use of Marijuana at least once a year. Italians figure at 14.6%. The country with the highest user rate was Ghana with 26.5%. Perhaps most interesting, The Netherlands, with a well-known non-enforcement policy for possession of recreational marihuana shows only 5.4 % Cannabis users.
We can draw four corollaries from this dataset:
- The Dutch data shows that it’s not because cannabis is permitted that people abuse it. There is evidence that decriminalizing marijuana decreases the numbers of youth users as supported by hard data (click here) The data suggests a similar effect to carding youth for tobacco products: better enforcement and control of youth uses. This does not apply to regimes that take a totalitarian stance on cannabis. With a user rate of 0.003% Singapore is an anomaly. But then possession in Singapore cannabis can lead to up to 10 years in jail or $13,000 US fine or both.Trafficking in Singapore can lead to the death penalty.
- Cannabis use is more prevalent than recognized by mainstream society. In another survey it was demonstrated that 51.6% of US citizens had used marijuana in their lifetime, the highest rate in the world. How can we still put people in jail for possessing marijuana? Who is lying? It is a statistical certainty that conservative voters in North American suburbia are breaking the law.
- The war on drugs is failing: why try and control a substance that finds its way into mainstream society through black market? We do not preconize the legalization of hard drugs like cocaine or heroine. But the point is the West spends money on destroying the marijuana trade, yet half the voters admit to using it. Shouldn’t we be taxing marijuana instead? In Colorado the State will apply a 25% excise tax on each level of the system: producer to a processor, processor to a retailer, and retailer to the customer. When cities like Detroit declare bankruptcy because they can’t meet payroll and pension commitments, wouldn’t be wiser to reduce our policing costs and find new ways to generate taxes?
- Given that people are using marijuana with or without state approval, a new health issue emerges: there is a need to monitor and regulate the quality of the cannabis that is used. As long as there are black marketers there will be tainted products in the marketplace that will put users at risk. The same argument applied to the contamination of moonshine by wood alcohol (methanol). In those moonshining days (arguably those those days aren’t over yet in the hills of Tennessee), there was a significant risk of causing blindness by not controlling the early low-temperature distillates from certain fruits. Likewise there are side effects of cannabis abuse, just like there are side effects of alcohol abuse. But it is possible to manage the downside of cannabis use: after all we are managing the use of alcohol (perhaps with the exception of Moore county).
At this point in time the marijuana controversy is primarily a political rather than a scientific debate. Colorado is changing the nature of the debate. In my next column I will explain how Chinese interests are taking over medical marijuana the way Chinese interest have created a rare earth monopoly.
Dr. Luc C. Duchesne is a Speaker and Author with a PhD in Biochemistry. With three decades of scientific and business experience, he has published ... <Read more about Dr. Luc Duchesne>