Trinidad: Marijuana market-Turning over a new leaf

Last month, the Prime Minister announced that cannabis legislation will be tabled in Parliament next year. This follows public backing from the Chief Justice. The Catholic Archbishop supports decriminalisation (not legalisation). They join the international establishment.

Countries from Uruguay to Canada have already legalised, along with a host of American states. The Economist has long been an advocate. More than US$8 billion in cannabis deals have been made in anticipation of Canadian legalisation. Coca-Cola has announced a canna-beverage and Corona has spent US$4 billion on a cannabis producer.

The Prime Minister framed it as a matter of social justice. More than 3,000 disadvantaged young men are arrested for cannabis possession every year. Many lose years living brutal prison lives before they even receive a trial. Even if they weren’t hardened criminals before, prison soon changes that. Outside, gangs and traffickers spill blood as they grab for turf.

Legalisation would free up cash and resources for the police and judiciary. The government will save a bundle and can hoover up some taxes. Criminals will be starved of their single biggest source of revenue and will have one less thing to kill for.

The medical consensus is that cannabis is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol. But that does not mean that it is good – unless you have a medical condition that it alleviates. Increased cannabis use could lead to respiratory disease and reduced productivity. And what about people either high on the job or high whilst driving? Current tests that rely on measuring cannabis’ active compound – THC – are not very accurate.



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