One toke over the line?
La Jornada’s “Dinero” columnist, Enrique Galván Ochoa, makes an interesting observation. While focused on the irony of Minister (Supreme Court Justice) Arturo Zavala being hailed as a “progressive” for pushing (if that’s the right word to use here) for decriminalizing marijuana, despite having ruled against Carmen Aristigui on an important free speech case seen as much more vital to progress and freedom, Galván notes that:
The Dutch government decriminalized marijuana consumption (originally five grams per person, then 30 grams) in 1976. Amsterdam became a global icon for its famous “coffee chops”, where tourists can buy it like a cappuccino. After nearly 40 years experience, the cost-benefit analisis is still under discussion. One of the worst consequences had been the development of a mutant cannabis strain that, according to experts, causes severe health damage.
That said, the Netherlands is among the ten least least corrupt countries in the world, in eight place, according to the Transparency International index 2014. That is, decriminalization occurred in a country under the rule of law. Now they want to decriminalize marijuana in Mexico, a country that ranks among the most corrupt, at 103rd place on that index.
…The minister’s project favors the reign of El Chapo. Perhaps Zaldívar wants to go down in history as a progressive jurist, but is in fact only an unwitting collaborator (let him determine to what degree) in the business interests of El Chapo and his fellow mafiosi.
It may be a tad harsh to accuse Minister Zalívar of collaborating (wittingly or otherwise) with gangsters, but then to just assume that the “magic of the marketplace” is going to erase exploitation and end violence is the hopelessly naive sort of thinking that makes me wonder if its proponents aren’t stoned when they say that. As I’ve noted before, the marijuana industry is not particularly different than any other tropical or sub-tropical commodities export business, its model based on exploitation and abusing rural communities. But, the Dinero columnist isn’t talking about exports, but about internal markets.
The internal market for marijuana … while only a fraction of that of our northern neighbor… may indeed be larger than I believe it to be, I don’t see how viable a market it really is. Not that I really care if people DO smoke marijuana (as long as they aren’t going to use heavy machinery, or attempt to engage in logical discourse), but the likely outcome being either corporate control of farmland better used for basic crops (and less water-dependent ones in dry regions where it is now being grown) and a lack of a good regulatory system for quality and purity … not to mention control over where and how it is sold, is likely to be disastrous in a country where even long established, “legitimate” exploitative commodity industries (think mining) have proven not just a danger to our environment and public health and safety, but to our economy as well.