Update 9: Tales of Mary Jane: The Children of Prohibition
Several isotopes of news and information have collided in my frontal lobe over the past few days and formed a new element. First came the surprising revelation that Cannabis is considered by the North Koreans to be merely a weed of occasional interest. The government position on its “recreational” use, incongruously uncharacteristic of them as it seems, can be best summed up as, “So what?” Okay.
Even more sensational are reports out of the US, (esp. Washington and Colorado), of explosive growth in Cannabis sales for all uses, and the concomitant growth in tax revenues suddenly being heaped on state governments. The picture includes reports of scarcity, increases in numbers of growers, grow facilities and acreage, with retail prices and demand holding high and steady.
Meanwhile, in geopolitical and global economic news, the governments of the two Koreas (“technically still at war”) and the United States, continue looking, trying and failing to find ways to lower tensions created by the appearance of the Pyeongyang Nukes on the scene. It is a mix that, in a game of Monopoly equivalent, a player buys Baltic and Mediterranean Avenue on his first trip around the board, and instead of building houses and hotels, trots out a Doomsday Weapon, stops shaking dice and instead just shakes down the other players whether it’s his turn or not.
South Korea, a comparative marvel of economic, social and political organization, given the number and type of negatives it has to work with, has a robust economy (too much household credit, but, meh!), productive and fairly diverse agriculture, well-advanced medical and educational sectors, and a high, manageable degree of civil order. To call it a “powerhouse” in today’s world would not be too far off. If it has a big negative, it is a tendency of government there, when the US farts (and when doesn’t it?) instead of moving upwind of the source, they suck it up and pretend it’s not so bad.
Out of such relations have come the South’s own draconian prohibition on marijuana, that a mid-level police official recently characterized in a personal communication as being necessary to prevent a situation where the people down tools and stop working. The oligarchs wouldn’t like it, in other words.
Back in the USA, meanwhile, the other 48 states where marijuana still lacks the full franchise prohibition’s end has brought the other two, move inexorably in the same direction, with the federal government somewhere back in the anti-science tea dust. One force driving the steady advance is the growing awareness in medical science that, in Cannabis resins are found an array of effective treatments, with minimal side effects, for an eye-widening range of painful and debilitating conditions, with few equals in the pharmacopeia.
My daydream, then, has formed thus: Seek to establish a rapprochement between the three nations with the specific actions to be undertaken by each. South Korea sends food and other goods to N. Korea, including what’s needed to establish a massive Cannabis-growing sector of its agriculture. The US (Colorado and Washington) send to N. Korea top -tier Cannabis experts, with clones of top strains for every known use, to help them launch a crash pot-growing effort. Build a fiber and oil processing facility to refine the non-drug biomass.
In exchange, the North exports its entire flower harvest to South Korea, to be systematically and methodically processed, and research begun into its effective properties, potency curve, medical applications, human testing for side-effects, all under strict control and the watchful eyes of the relevant ministry and the tobacco and ginseng corporation, with its deep experience in maintaining a lucrative agricultural monopoly.
Importers in the US would see retail prices fall there in the short term, while tax yield continued to grow steadily, based on increased sales. The benefits of such a program would appear immediately, forcing even the do-nothing US Congress to finally act to remove all legal constraints aside from regulations needed to protect the public from ever-present criminal abuses by unscrupulous actors. Almost overnight, a new, trillion dollar industry would be up and running, providing benefits well beyond the merely economic for the peoples involved.
Please, don’t wake me. Sure, it’s a pipe dream sans pipe. Once I do wake up, I hope someone will tell me what’s wrong with the idea, so I’ll have something to think about when I go back to sleep.