Interesting news on the weekend that Glasgow played host to a de-criminalise cannabis campaign.
Up to a thousand people were expected to attend though as it turned out only about 150 managed to make it. I'm pretty sure the others fully planned on rocking up but just couldn't get it together, a late night trip to the all night garage for Mars Bars and Pringles ensuring they slept right through the alarm.
I'm no stranger to marijuana one way and another and personally support the movement to relax the laws, which I expect to happen sooner rather than later if only because the Government will surely realise the enormous financial benefits associated with taxing a practice more prevalent than smoking tobacco.
It's no different in Australia - marijuana is still illegal here though as ever, the people who tend to get clobbered are the poor, dispossessed and desperate. Huckling such folk represents a veritable tap-in for the police who rarely bother the middle class professionals, loads of who don't mind a wee toke now and again.
I remember attending court in the town of Byron Bay in New South Wales as a probation officer when one of my 'clients' - Travis - was up on a charge of possession.
'Funny, when you think about it', Travis's louche legal aid lawyer drawled, 'I smoke pot, the prosecutor smokes pot, the judge smokes pot and so does the policeman who made the arrest. You probably do yourself. And yet, it's only poor old Travis who gets pinched.'
Funny all right. Travis could barely keep the smile from his face as they led him away, a three month jail sentence worked up his rear.
My probation patch included Nimbin, a tiny town in an idyllic rainforest setting which is known internationally as Australia's Marijuana Capital. It's literally impossible to walk down the main street in Nimbin - actually there only is one street - without someone offering to sell you some weed.
Nobody is too square or straight to be overlooked, the dealers are very egalitarian that way. If your 90-year-old grandmother was to visit the town even she'd be bombarded by offers of 'smoko, mate?'
I know this is true since I took my elderly mother there and she was given the treatment. And before you ask, no she didn't partake. My mum was far enough off the wall already without recourse to any herbal stimulant. Once, after seeing the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical 'Cats', she delivered a typically idiosyncratic one line appraisal when asked what it was like: "It wiz aw aboot cats".
Nimbin continues to host an annual Mardi-Grass festival - check the extra 's', where events such as throwing the bong, seed sorting and joint rolling (speed, artistic, adverse conditions and in the dark) take place amidst an (extremely) heady atmosphere of joy, smoke and general vagueness. The year I attended the 'adverse conditions' category was won by Big Ped from Yoker, a stellar achievement I don't recall being celebrated on the BBS Sport Personality of the Year, more's the pity.
I was always pretty sympathetic and even a little uncomfortable about supervising people on probation for the relatively harmless act of smoking a bit of pot. After all, these guys lived in the most perfect part of the world, all sun, sand and sexy backpackers, could you really castigate them for choosing to spend their time bonging on, whilst idly admiring the scenery and contemplating their navel?
I couldn't. Although, to be fair, that might have been because I spent my weekends doing more or the less the same thing.
Not that I'm suggesting that smoking pot is entirely harmless. It isn't. Taking any form of smoke into your lungs is inherently dangerous, but hey, life is dangerous.
The biggest problem I've always found is the way pot has a tendency to de-motivate. Smoking a spliff opens up your mind to all sorts of possibilities, gives you a lot of great ideas - all of which you fully intend to get working on, as soon as possible.
Tomorrow, for sure. Or next week, at the latest. Definitely this year. Categorically this century.
It doesn't help that the next day, if you can remember what the idea was, it doesn't actually sound all that brilliant. In fact, most of the time, it's entirely unworkable and worse - utterly pointless.
The reason why no one has ever thought of doing it before? Because it's a load of old cack.
But then, there's no law against talking rubbish. Which is just as well, really.
Generally speaking, marijuana doesn't make people aggressive, liable to mayhem and violence or minded to commit serious crime. Booze is your boy for all that sort of behaviour and in case you haven't noticed, alcohol is perfectly legal and more or less universally available.
Making the demon drink illicit has of course been tried, tested and summarily proven to be an abject failure. In fact, if Prohibition achieved anything, it actually caused crime to rise; think Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and all the other various bootleggers, extortionists and standover merchants involved in its illegal supply.
The Pot dealers in Nimbin (and I'm pretty sure everywhere else) are rarely criminal masterminds or malicious felons. Most of them are merely doing someone a favour or trying to make a buck, which they'll then likely utilise to indulge their own cannabis predilection.
De-criminalisation and ultimately legalisation will mean the death knell for such people, as big companies get in on the act. This already happens in pot-friendly California and Colorado where some of the suppliers are now even quoted on the stock exchange.
That's the future, for sure. In some ways, it'll be a pity, but it's almost inevitable. There's money in it see, so it's only a matter of time before the Government wises up, breenges in and takes a slice.
After all, unlike marijuana, taxes grow without rain.
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