Charles Nesson is definitely onto something. In his letter to the Jamaica Observer editor of Saturday May 31, titled “Some things for the prime minister (sic) to do” he certainly outlines a bold initiative regarding the legalization of marijuana in Jamaica. I’d move it beyond Maroon Country though, to the kind of thinking the Dutch must have had when they legalized prostitution and decriminalized marijuana smoking in the Netherlands. Did the country become a pariah for making those decisions? I don’t think so. At least the Dutch were practical enough to realize that it’s no use kicking against the pricks when it comes to your natural proclivities. The truth will out.
We should be capitalizing from our national penchant for lawlessness; the time has come for us to realize that there is indeed a market for an environment such as ours, and use it to our advantage.
The first thing we need to overcome is our nomimotitaphobia, our fear of legality. Don’t bother looking that up; I coined it for this purpose. Greek (νομιμ?τητα) nomimotita: legality or legitmacy, and phobia: fear of. Seems as if we’re comfortable with engaging in anything as long as it remains illegal, whether it be Ponzi schemes, casinos or abortions, and we’ll be silent watching others break other laws, even if we don’t do it ourselves. But Just mention the word “legalize” and we break out in hives and mumble something about morals.
We must abandon this fondness for breaking the law, and since harsh penalties have been ineffective, and hanging is out of the question, we need to examine a few of our natural proclivities and see how best we can work with conforming our laws to these, thereby removing some of the barriers to our progress. After all, isn’t it the law that deems what constitutes criminal behavior?
Remember the popular tagline for one of our resort chains, “Be wicked for a week!” We could borrow that and use it in our international marketing campaign. So many potential vacationers, clamoring for a respite from their high-stress jobs in their strait-laced companies and starchy social circles would just relish the idea of joining us in abandoning all sense of first-world “propriety”, and doing whatever comes natural.
The possession of ganja, its commercialization and use is currently outlawed. Yet the nimbus that hovers over concerts and many other public gatherings, public officials in attendance or not, undeniably belies this status. It’s illegal with a shrug of the shoulders. Generally accepted is the reality that many visitors to our island come to experience the sybaritic pleasures of the herb that could be our cash crop, not for export, but for local indulgence. People would come from the four corners of the earth (and pay good money too) for a week in the sun on the beaches and in the hills, and feel free to smoke without fear of intimidation or arrest.
There would be designated commercial outlets for distribution, and the prices would reflect GCT and a special smoke tax to fund the island’s health system. This could be a viable alternative to our current Sisyphean efforts to cultivate winter vegetables and other agricultural produce, and the gains made from the local sales would permit us to continue our importation of high-end foodstuff.
One major spin-off from this initiative would be the provision of employment for the multitude of stone-kickers. You’d be surprised how many would drop whatever they are doing and go into farming, if only cannabis sativa and its related species were the crops of choice. We could buy ackees, yams breadfruit, and the trendy cassava from Ghana or Costa Rica, but use every available foot of soil to cultivate herb. Would there be need to award subsidies to farmers for fertilizers? I don’t think so. We’d make so much money from this, we could chuck the pineapple from our coat of arms and replace it with the herb leaves.
Then there is the ubiquity of the handgun. If the state is unable to protect its citizens, then it must allow its citizens to protect themselves, so I am all for the provision of the citizenry to bear arms. Of course the law will be specific about the type of weaponry and ammunition, and to drive down the price of the those weapons illicitly shipped in barrels, sailing into secluded inlets by stealthboat or hidden in sarcophagi or other legitimate imports, special permits could be granted to chosen local entrepreneurs to import according to specifications.
Our visitors could rent guns too, just as how they currently rent cars; after all they will need to protect themselves and family too. No longer will they need to be sequestered in all-inclusives, they will be able to take their chances roaming the countryside just as the natives do. Again the government could benefit from the applicable GCT and the special gun tax. Indeed more taxes could be levied from interested Hollywood movie moguls, as the island would become the backdrop of choice for reality tv and blockbuster movies.
Then there’s that troublesome “sex worker” topic, a challenge we could easily resolve by hiring some consultants from the Netherlands to set up our red-light districts and license the traders. The show-window or vitrine concept is quite an attraction in Amsterdam; some tourists actually make the pilgrimage to experience the hedonistic thrills of “being wicked” at their leisure.
Sex workers would be registered under the aegis of specific “houses”, so that their activities can be logged for tax purposes, and in order to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, sex workers would be subject to regular health tests to renew their licenses. Here I must emphasize that no gays will be permitted to register as sex workers. The culture does not allow for that kind of moral decadence, as there are enough Bible verses to prove beyond the shadow of a doubt, that it is an abomination.
However, first things first. I would remove the two statues from Emancipation Park and place them on a plinth in front of Sangster Airport, as these have already come to symbolize our emancipation from the strictures of responsible sex. Visitors would get the picture within the first hour of their arrival, and the statues would generate much income, for there could be a charge for getting onto the plinth and having a photograph taken in the shadow of these larger-than-life figures and their appendages. While we’re at it, and in the interest of equal opportunity, we could reproduce the statues for the Norman Manley Airport as well.
Then casino gambling would be the icing on the cake. There would be no limit to the spend here. Proceeds would go to education. Need I say more?
Last thing; bring back Reneto “Quick Draw” Adams, the genuine article. His is the kind of policing you need for an environment such as this one; a hybrid of the old American Wild West with a distinctive Caribbean flavor.
We need to simply let nature take its course, as we’ve done over the years, as it’s a little too late to “pull up”. And the captioned headline? Seen at the entrance to a private residence in Oracabessa: “Tresspassers will be shat in dem bomboclaat!” I think that just about sums it up.