THE EDITOR, Sir:
To every nation God gives what is needed to survive, but history continues to reveal the mess men have made of it, and in most instances it is all about satisfying our own greed. Our economy is in crisis and we have to look at natural and creative ways to stay afloat.
The recent outpouring of support for the decriminalisation of ganja seems to have propelled the relevant bodies to at least give some thought to the development of research labs to explore its uses in an effort to harness its full potential. I was also pleasantly surprised to hear some of my more conservative compatriots advocating the legalisation of cannabis. After all, the ganja debate has been around since forever, and only a few of us have been staunch supporters of taking advantage of this 'cash cow'.
I could not help but remember the 2008 hullabaloo about dual citizenship, as I read the article published on Sunday September 1, 2013, 'Cayman judge favours politician on dual citizenship'. I was reminded of the early '70s and how some Jamaicans took advantage of this dual citizenship and created their own safe haven. I am sure some of you can remember those who had their own private small aircraft, maybe in every parish, and they were (allegedly) using it for more than transporting human cargo.
I can certainly remember one airstrip next door to the school I attended in rural Jamaica. Most weekends, and even some weekdays, two to four small aircraft would land and would take off early the next morning. These private strips were well protected by vigilant property managers. However, one day an equally attentive police team decided to spot check a car heading towards a plane on the airstrip and they discovered the ganja that was about to be loaded on to the plane.
This discovery and further investigations caused many of the now 'ganja rich' Jamaican dual citizens to flee the island. What this action did also was to expose the small farmers to direct contact with the ganja traders, mainly from USA.
Small farmers now had the opportunity to earn top dollar. They could now afford the simple luxuries that were once reserved for the more affluent members of society. If only some wealthy Jamaicans would share the secrets of their past, you would realise that a lot of Jamaicans/dual citizens gave their children proper schooling here and abroad because of big earnings from the ganja trade. Some of these children now hold high offices in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
So, if ganja did some good then, why not continue to reap the benefits - legally - of it now?
This brings me to another point.
We spend so much time chasing a man with a one 'spliff' and we are still missing the bigger picture: the medicinal, clothing, fragrance (just to name a few), and possibilities of a much larger scale. How many remember that alcohol was once taboo, like ganja is today? Alcohol is now one of the most profitable consumer products on the market. I was thinking, why didn't we use some of our sugar estates for research centres, since we had so much trouble with their divestment? Why are we still dancing recklessly around ganja's full potential, when it can have such a positive impact on our now very weak economy?
Currently, the USA is the biggest user of marijuana. California has legalised its use for medicinal purposes, and in 2012 Colorado and Washington State became the first states to vote for the legalisation of the recreational use of marijuana. If regularised, the scheme is expected to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for government functions.
Likewise, a regulated market in Jamaica with licensed growers, sellers and consumers could also bring in much-needed revenue to boost our ailing economy. Let us stop begging and stop believing in foreigners who tell us anything and rob us of our inherent wealth. Ganja to Jamaica is like oil to Iraq. Let us tap into its vast reserve.