In the past years it seems marijuana has stolen the headlines using its shock factor as a taboo substance to engulf people’s attention.
With the proposed decriminalisation for first-time offenders teenagers all over the island are now able to sleep at night, knowing they won’t be arrested the day before an ‘A’ level on account of a ‘smidge’ of pot hidden in their wallet.
This revelation in law adaptation is most probably viewed as a small leap by our European neighbours, who already allow the distribution of medical marijuana and the issuing of medical marijuana licences for those who use the drug as a medical solution to problems like arthritis, epilepsy, anxiety, depression and insomnia.
The US has taken the matter at hand even further, where 23 states and the District of Colombia have legalised or decriminalised the use of marijuana.
In Colorado, some data has come through after the first eight months of legalisation. This data includes an increase of $98 million in tax revenue and it has created an industry which employs 10,000 workers.
What is also important to note is that there has been no increase in driving fatalities. In fact, this has decreased, while the use of hard drugs, like cocaine, has gone down.
The number of teenagers who smoke weed has not increased and there has been no spike in the crime rate which, in reality, decreased. So, am I saying that marijuana legalisation is a cure for society?
No, the statistics mentioned have no clear, direct relationship with the legalisation and distribution of marijuana.
Now let us imagine Malta decided to pass a legalisation bill. The choice whether or not to smoke marijuana will still remain in users’ hands, just like alcohol, with long-term effects of smoking marijuana being not too different either.
Now let us look at our country. What effect would a new crop which could be utilised to make a variety of hemp products have on our micro economy?
What kind of increase in tax revenue would we have from the 1.5 million tourists who visit Malta for leisure, who may begin smoking pot at coffee shops and eating our local delicacies to satisfy their munchies?
We might even improve our tourism figures, with foreigners wanting to visit our island for a new reason besides our warm summer months. The best part about it is that unlike those foreigners who drink alcohol, pot smokers do not rampage the streets late at night, vandalising vehicles and destroying property.
The most violating thing they may do is sit in a circle and sing songs.