On a high note

Issue 36 - 15 December 2020 (6-min read)

There’s a wide range of memories that come to mind when I think about cannabis. An old fakir outside a shrine in Lahore, eyes half-closed, the lower half of his face hidden behind a thick cloud of smoke. The gang in That 70s Show. My next-door neighbour in Canada who smoked a joint on his balcony every night exactly at 10pm, although I was convinced for a good part of that year that we just had a highly punctual skunk living in our parking lot. 

Once I learned to identify what cannabis smells like, I could smell it everywhere - no matter which part of the world I was. And if the latest news reports are any indication, a lot more countries are finally willing to accept that the pungent smell is here to stay. 

Since this will be the last edition of The Global Tiller before the holidays 🎊, we decided to end this consequential year on a high note (pun totally intended). We take a look at the recent developments in the legalisation of cannabis 🌱 around the globe, what are some debates surrounding its use and what could our future look like when pot cafes become as normal as bars. 

Last month, Mexico’s senate voted for a bill in favour of the legalisation of marijuana in the country. This could have a major impact on its massive incarceration rates and the general violence perpetuated by its infamous drug cartels. Legal weed won big in last month’s US elections as well. 

Not to mention the fact that the UN has reclassified cannabis as a less dangerous drug, paving way for its normalisation and eventual legalisation in most parts of the world. Among the countries who voted against this reclassification were China, Russia, Egypt, Nigeria and Pakistan. However, the tide seems to be turning even there as Pakistan’s federal cabinet has recently approved the industrial and medical use of cannabis extract, albeit they insist this is only to grant Pakistan access to the billion-dollar CBD market.

The arguments in favour of cannabis legalisation are the same as the legalisation of any kind of intoxicant: it brings the trade into the open as opposed to the chaos of the black market, and allows regulators to manage its consumption. In Netherlands, where cannabis has been legal for a long time, it is regulated in much the same way as alcohol. 

And while there are anecdotal accounts of marijuana use helping treat chronic pains and cancer-related ailments, there is no comprehensive research that confirms these benefits. Neither is there substantive scientific data into its addictive qualities but it has been linked to respiratory problems. Perhaps, as we move beyond cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug, more scientific research will be conducted into its conclusive effects on our minds and bodies. 

Nevertheless, I found it remarkable that the Dutch harm score of illicit drugs found crack cocaine, heroin, tobacco and alcohol to be far worse than cannabis. 

As countries begin changing longstanding views against cannabis and allowing its recreational and medicinal use, it would be important to think about how legalisation unfolds. Is Big Marijuana going to take over this industry (and eventually our lives) much the same way as Big Tech did? Who is pushing the research into the benefits and harms of cannabis? What happens to those prisoners who have been languishing in jail for marijuana possession? Will they be paid some kind of reparations, or assisted into reentering society? Will cannabis use perpetuate inequalities, especially in societies where its use by the poor was severely condoned?

Let us know how your community is debating the legalisation of cannabis and how do you see this impacting our collective future.

On behalf of The Global Tiller team, we wish you safe and happy holidays! 🥳

Hira - Editor - The Global Tiller

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Here are some articles and a podcast that I enjoyed on this topic:

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… and now what?

Unlike Hira, my memories involving cannabis are much darker. Numerous "awareness" sessions by police officers in schools, showing pictures of overdosed people, lives destroyed. My high school classmates being taken out of the dorms, handcuffed, for having dealt, consumed or caught for drug trafficking cannabis, but sometimes other drugs too. 

I also remember numerous parties at university, or on the beaches of Tahiti, where reggae music joyfully made us dance and where joints were passed from hand to hand - mine always skipped during the smoking round. Were those awareness sessions at school so efficient that they kept me completely weed proof until today? Is it the fact that my parents never prevented me from it but were persistently educative on drug abuse? Whatever the reason, I have always managed to stay away from "Mary Jane" who was busy seducing others.

For many years, I was a strict supporter of a strong legal strategy to police cannabis use. For me, it was crazy to be in favour of a substance that turns people’s mind upside down…while I was partying hard with beer and whisky. How often to we struggle to identify our own paradox. Our own contradictions. 

It took me a long time to find the perspective and the distance to rethink my views about cannabis. But eventually, I realised I couldn’t preach to companies to stop over controlling their employees while I continued to support a heavily policed strategy based on an assumption that people must be controlled. 

Readings, discussions and reflections slowly led me out of this paradox. I still don’t smoke weed, I can’t stand the smell. But I’ve also realised that, at some point, this almost militarised approach to solving drug abuse has been anything but efficient. In fact, it may have cause further harm when you look at how the opioid crisis ravaged across the US in the past years. 

Eventually, this made me realise how often our minds are darkened by the smoke of certainty, our ideas cluttered by the feeling of comfort created by a single-sided perspective. I was so sure I was right, I never questioned it until evidence of the reality came to give me my first dose of reflection.

Cannabis is hardly the only issue in which we experience the psychotropic effect of certainties. The year 2020 was no short of such situations: debates raged around the management of the pandemic and are now roaring on the question of the vaccines. We all stick to our perspective, our certainty, sustaining our dependence on our own ideas by getting other people addicted to them.

2020 is coming to an end. The Global Tiller has tried to be a guide to you, our readers, for us to share our perspectives, open our minds to other views, ideas and to question ourselves together. We hope this has been a helpful hand in the midst of fears and unknowns and that it helped you getting out of the risk of a deformed reality. 

It’s our shared views and ideas that will help us all move forward. Speaking of which, we already look forward to seeing and meeting you again in 2021. The Global Tiller will come back as motivated as ever! Until then, enjoy a peaceful holiday season and take care of yourselves.

Philippe - Founder - Pacific Ventury

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