Features — 01 November 2017 — by Colin Hyde
An ACT to increase the price of weed

What’s the point of decriminalizing a small quantity of marijuana if you can’t get it? Some cruel teaser this could turn out to be. By the way, somebody has to tell people who have no vice that, yes, they do. There are things in this world which you take for granted that can be taken away. People who live in a democracy are used to saying what they want. A totalitarian state is a very different world. Every good totalitarian knows that the unfettered word is the greatest enemy of that system. Some people who grew up in a democracy will suffer if they can’t run off their thoughts. But what can they do if the law says to zip it? Aha, your world is turned on its head because your virtue is now turned vice.

What about your friendly, chubby next door neighbour? He’s the one in the neighbourhood with the most community spirit. Anybody needs a helping hand, he’s the man. He is active in youth sports and gives up a few hours each week helping high school students with remedial classes. He’s a church guy too. Look, the man is perfect, except that he is some overweight because he can’t get through the day without his soft drink and a pint of ice cream. Then the government decides that it is in his best interest, and also in the state’s interest, that he forego his soft drink and delicious ice cream. You think they can pass a law to cramp a guy like that? That man needs his sucrose, so the good state just made a new lawbreaker.

It really isn’t right to tease people. What’s with our GoB and this plot to increase the price of weed? Why, pray, are they doing that? The smart people in our country, instead of fretting about the things other people in this world do to help them keep sane with all the madness around them, might try explaining that. We can’t say that this is jump out of frying pan an lan eena fire, but this is an ill wind blowing.

Some of the super cops at the police’s last press conference were strictly about the process, but one or two were also about explaining to the least common denominator. And that’s what they said when they trotted out, one by one, to explain the purpose of this new ACT (Addressing Crime Together) to which they are committing.

I heard one super cop say they were going to make it very difficult for people who sell weed. They will achieve this end by cutting off the supply from foreign places. Cutting the weed supply will, of course, increase the price. You don’t have to be an economist at the Central Bank to know that too little supply to satisfy the demand means, up goes the price. And at a time when new USERS are just about to come on the market! Why? What are they after?

Is it to increase the profits for the drug dealers with the best connections? Is it to price weed out of the pocket of poorer folk? Is it the bad mind, to tease people who are celebrating the decriminalization of marijuana? Bwai, yu kud smoke all yu want, up to ten grams at a time, if yu kud get it—an if yu kud pay for it! Does someone really think this is a way to decrease violence in Belize?

There was mention of more application of the cruel big stick. And why are we trying so hard to satisfy that demographic? Some while ago that crowd, in print, called for the police to bring down the full force of the law on the marijuana trade, a la what the Colombian government had done to cocaine traders. They said that Colombia has been a changed place, much for the better, since the state crushed the drug dealers. Some people don’t mind if the cure is worse than the disease.

There was mention of carrots. The plot is to have a mediation program going during this ACT. Can you have mediation and wield the big stick at the same time? One of the two is not going to look good and you can bet it will be the one bearing the carrots.

Is the plot to cramp the foreign suppliers, so as to let back in local growers who got wiped out after PM Esquivel took USAID money? Or is it a sadist’s scheme to make people die a slow death? If you cut off the supply, the small dealers will starve.

Is there a program to come along with this ACT, a poverty eradication program that will not only provide jobs but also provide education and re-education for the young unemployed in the inner city? Do we have the money for that, after we expended so much on foreign cement and steel? Can we afford not to do something meaningful for these youth? Is there a plan afoot, at last, at last, to seriously invest in the Cadet Corps? The PM mentioned something of the sort in his September speech, but it didn’t come over as a major initiative, maybe because he was too busy hurling insults his opponent’s way.

If I didn’t know better, I’d say that’s how your tongue goes if you’re an avid listener to WAVE Radio. But I’ve been in a court and I noticed a lot of mud talk goes on in there too. Everybody in the room was fighting to see who could make the meanest put down, everybody except the poor witness, who was confined to YES, or NO. See, when you talk that way you make people not notice the little good in you.

As it stands, this ACT will cut the supply of weed, increase the price of weed, make the mediators look bad, and maintain the status quo in respect to tension on the inner streets of the old capital. Hopefully we are better than that.

Hopefully the PM is serious about a Cadet Corps, and there will be an injection of capital for human development. That’s the only way this ACT can pass. Alone, without meaningful programs to support it, ACT will fail, and hope will die with it because mediation, the only success story in the neighbourhood, can’t flourish in the environment of distrust and hate in the world of big stick.

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