Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Roll Your Own

The town where I live, like all towns in Northern Quebec, has a very high participation rate in consumption of marijuana and/or hashish. I have no firm statistics at my fingertips, but the consumption rate of illegal smokables is about the same as a college dormitory. Not Brigham Young or Oral Roberts University, but more like UC-Berkeley, in the 1960s.

One thing unusual about the consumption pattern is the pervasiveness through all age segments except pre-teens and children. There are a number of "elders" (which up here is anyone over 55) who are regular chimneys when it comes to grass. The basic rule of thumb is that a resident is either a total non-consumer or someone who gets high a number of times a day, 365 days a year if they can get it. "Casual Users" don't seem to exist much.

Now I'm not a pothead - I can't stand the paranoia-inducing effect it has on me. Nor would I like to see my children smoking it. But it seems to me the illegal status of marijuana is more of a problem than the substance itself.

I have yet to hear of a crime being committed whilst stoned on grass. And compared to the swath of destruction created by the one legal intoxicant in our society - alcohol - it seems fairly benign.

By my calculation, the street value of cannabis and its derivatives (along with bootleg alcohol) is about $2.5 M annually, and this in a town with a population of 1,200. That works out to an annual per capita expenditure of nearly $2,100. Factoring out those too young and those who abstain, I can confidently state that some households are spending over $15,000 a year on illegal herbal products.

Here we have a low participation rate in the labour force, and many families are on social assistance. Even with a large number of dependents, the welfare check would barely cover the cost of recreational drugs for some families. The economic impact on our tiny village is enormous, and if it wasn't for the distribution of free "country" foods such as caribou, arctic char and seal, a number of families will be facing real starvation.

Everytime society has placed a penalty between a "vice" and a willing consumer, there is marginal deterrent effect, but the amount of crime surrounding the traffic of that product skyrockets. For this reason I do not support decriminalization, which would probably only succeed in driving the street price higher and traffickers richer.

Rather I support the complete legalization of marijuana and its derivatives. But this has a very thorny aspect to it - if the government is responsible for distribution such as it has with its monopoly on alcoholic beverages, there is an implicit sanction for its consumption, and I'm sure no government wants to be placed in that position, though I'm sure they would like the tax revenue.

So I support a grow-your-own approach. This idea was actually proposed by the Senate of Canada, usually a bunch of superannuated political hacks but showing real daring in this concept. I can hear some innured grass freaks pointing out that without hybridization the marijuana would lose some of its potency. I'll grant you, it won't be as strong as BC Bud, but why not smoke twice as much if it's half as strong? Geez, it's not like you'd be paying $50 CDN a gram for the stuff.

Where do you guys stand?

5 Comments:

Blogger The Phosgene Kid said...

I'm surprised your government doesn’t handle it as they do the liquor - monopolize the distributing and put the gouge on the weed-rats. One problem law enforcement has is detecting pot in DWH (Driving While High) cases. I think it is tougher. They'd also have to come up with an "open lid" law for pot in vehicles...

12:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why not join the weed rats? 2.5M is a lot of mooola Nanook if I were you I would grab a slice of the pie. Why not!!!1!!1

1:26 PM  
Blogger Fuff said...

I prefer a margarita myself, but don't see the sense in criminalising weed. It probably does less damage than alcohol. as far as we know.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Anna said...

Personally, I'm pro-pot. I have been a casual user on and off since I was 13 (the same age I started smoking cigarettes).

I don't believe it's done me any harm; it certainly was not the "gateway" to harder drugs for me. I've always been a contributing member of society.

For many years before we left Ontario, we grew our own. Three plants were plenty for the two of us and there was always enough to share with friends.

It's one of the things I miss most about home as the smoke here in Ireland is so poor that I've pretty much given up altogether. Drink more though...way more.

11:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree that it should get legalized. At least maybe sanctioned or maybe have the KRPF back off so people could have better access to the Montreal street value.
15,000 is an average guess. There are people that are spending the majority of their money.
People should be encouraged to grow their own.
50 bucks to a 10!
At least Kuujjuaq, Puvirnituq, and Inukjuak are 40.
And its the drug dealers down south in their mansions and Harleys that decide the price.
200% profit. They must love Nunavik.
Should encourage a salemans to come and introduce their merchandise and tricks of the green thumb. Introduce it as how to grow vegetables at home, and actually do it but also show how to get the highest buzz.
Something. Anything.

10:05 PM  

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