Marijuana industry could revolutionise caribbean economies – trinidad and tobago newsday gas exchange in the lungs occurs due to

Days earlier, at the launch of a new anti-drugs training course for regional law enforcement operatives, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon described the recent capture of a fishing vessel off the coast of Suriname carrying 4.2 tonnes of cocaine worth US$125 million – the largest seizure in the Atlantic since 1999.

The money spent on policing the regional narcotics trade is phenomenal, and yet the busts are a tiny drop in the ocean. The war on drugs that Reagan invented as part of his world-policing, anti-communist agenda is irretrievably lost. Narcotics of every kind are produced, packaged, sold, shipped and consumed while the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and their regional police allies engage in skirmishes on the sidelines and celebrate them as important victories.

At the 24th annual Caribbean Regional Drug Commanders Conference, hosted by the DEA and TTPS at the Magdalena Grand and attended by 27 countries including Mexico and Colombia, the US Embassy Charges d’Affaires John McIntyre reminded the press that America had “put millions and millions of dollars into our drug enforcement efforts and that commitment remains.”

Imagine if, instead of that vast outlay, state-regulated American firms had legally purchased those drugs from internationally-monitored producers in those countries and responsibly sold them to consumers in the States. Consider the billions in tax that could be recouped and redistributed, rather than the billions spent on surveillance, court cases and detention. Imagine if the money made and spent on drugs on the black market went to responsible manufacturers, retailers and governments, rather than dealers and cartels who terrorise and manipulate the poor.

If we legalised drugs globally, countries with agricultural economies or the potential for them, like Colombia, Venezuela, Peru, Afghanistan, Thailand, Jamaica, Trinidad, Nepal, Morocco et al, could produce and export drugs, transform their societies and alter the world’s economic imbalances.

Uruguay, Jamaica, Antigua and others have followed suit, decriminalising marijuana for small quantities and for medical purposes. The UK and Canada allow medical usage for specific conditions. But nowhere except the US and Netherlands has commercialised weed.

Why are other countries, including TT, lagging behind, allowing America to profit from a product it encouraged the world to prohibit since the 1930s? And will the international community also wait for America to decide that harder drugs like cocaine, ecstasy, LSD and heroin are also viable commodities for its citizens, while the violence and corruption created by criminalising drugs continues to damage the developing world?

Historian Yuval Noah Harari, in his book Homo Deus, says drugs that “strengthen political stability, social order and economic growth” – like Ritalin or Prozac – gain approval, while drugs that merely bring pleasure are seen as “an existential threat to the social and economic order.”

If we can move past the morality that says rum is socially acceptable but marijuana isn’t, or that legalising drugs increases usage – the opposite happened in Holland after weed decriminalisation in 1976 – we can instead see drugs as economies, growth, capital, healthcare and tourism.