It’s Almost 2022 and Marijuana is Still Considered Dangerous Pt. 2

Welcome to the second installment of this series where I examine some of the potential dangers of marijuana consumption and possession in the US and abroad. Part 1 discussed some foreign and domestic policy as well as some of the physical dangers that exist in the illicit market. 

I yearn to see a time when access to natural, non-gmo marijuana is widely accepted as a human right. I can envision an informed and empowered global citizenry with the freedom to use cannabis for medical and/or recreational purposes. Until that time there are still significant hurdles that need to be cleared. Let’s take a look at some of these barriers and how they manifest around the globe. This article is intended to empower the reader and to initiate further dialogue.

Barriers to Research 

A common thread in my writing for Flavor Fix is my emphasis on the criminal culture surrounding marijuana. Criminalization continues to shape opinions as well individual liberties. In a relatively short span we’ve moved from Reefer Madness PSA’s to corporations offering publicly traded cannabis stocks. Policy change has also granted researchers some new found freedoms. Scientists often met legal blockades in their past attempts to further their studies on marijuana. 

Historically, the illegality of marijuana has prevented scientists from securing proper  funding for cannabis related projects. Prohibition also created challenges in relation to access of specimens (aka weed!) and the proper transport of said specimens into laboratories. The criminalization of marijuana has prevented modern science from developing a more comprehensive knowledge of one of the world’s most versatile crops. Marijuana has been proven to save lives and a more free flowing stream of access to this plant medicine could potentially disrupt the medical industrial complex. How many deaths could have been prevented if we lived in a culture which granted us the liberty to further study a plant that appears to have been engineered by nature to assist life on earth?

Archaic Cannabis Policy In the US 

I found some interesting analysis on cannabis laws via this handy state ranking chart on jdsupra.com. This chart arranges states by number according to how cannabis friendly their laws are. The states with the lowest numbers reflect a more cannabis friendly environment. I’ll also be using data from NORML as a reference for the various laws for the US states mentioned in this article. NORML has a deep legacy of cannabis activism since 1970. Their relentless work has helped contribute to this modern age of legal reform.

Georgia

Since the early 2000’s Hip Hop from Atlanta has dominated the mainstream commercial airwaves. The city is the birthplace of several rap sub-genres such as Trap, Snap and Krunk. For years the lyrics of rappers like Killer Mike, Outkast, T.I. and Ludacris have been laden with references to marijuana. So much so, that it might suggest that Georgia had favorable cannabis laws in place. Contrary to the backdrop that Atlanta artists paint Georgia continues to have some stiff penalties for cannabis possession on their law books. The state ranks number 42 on the jdsupra.com ranking previously mentioned. As of November 2021 there are new efforts being made to establish a statewide medical program. 

 

If the future of Georgia consists of recreational cannabis a city like Atlanta can potentially benefit from increased tourism and tax revenue. Atlanta’s influence on young adult culture could potentially reach new heights once cannabis laws are reformed. 

Nebraska

Aside from being the state of Malcolm X’s birth I generally don’t know a great deal about the state of Nebraska. I decided to add this state to this article because it ranks last in the the jdupra.com list at 51st place. Nebraskra’s ranking may suggest the state is filled with people who despise cannabis and anything related to it. However, there is a growing movement to bring legal cannabis policies to this historically conservative state. In recent years neighboring Colorado’s recreational cannabis policy has caused a spike in arrests and fines for Nebraskans. Many Nebraska residents drive into Colorado to purchase cannabis products and bring back to the state illegally. While it is evident that there is a demand for cannabis products in the state many of the state’s political figures are steadfast in their old fashioned beliefs about weed. Cannabis possession in the state can lead to some stiff fines and/or jail time as well. NORML offers a more detailed examination of what laws are on the state’s books

 

North Carolina

As legalized cannabis continues to create new social and economic paradigms, North Carolina is moving with no haste to the party. North Carolina has a deep history with the tobacco industry and has recently taken steps towards legalization. Some believe cannabis crops could provide some respite for tobacco farmers as well.

 

Prohibition in this state as well as others with strict laws force the most ambitious and daring cannabis entrepreneurs to take big risks. In September of 2021 17 lbs of marijuana were seized during a traffic stop in Pitt County, NC.

 

Data from Charlotte, North Carolina also provides some insights that many have either known or speculated for decades. Black people are far more likely to face harsher legal consequences for possession of cannabis than any other ethic group. 

A strong  argument for nationwide decriminalization and expungement can be made when we examine data from Charlotte. Law enforcement uses marijuana laws as a tool to criminalize marginalized people

International Cannabis Laws and Reform

Let’s take a look at some global destinations and how cannabis policy  is enacted by governments overseas. 

France

France has a history with psychoactive cannabis that historians believe began during the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte. France also functions a bit paradoxically when it comes to weed. Many French citizens use cannabis and view cannabis reform favorably, however France has some of the harshest cannabis laws in the EU. Needless to say it would behoove the cannabis enthusiast to research French laws before lighting up a spliff the streets of Paris. In many parts of the country it is quite common to see people smoking cannabis in spite of the stiff legal ramifications for doing so. 

 

A naive traveler could easily be faced with an expensive fine or face arrest for consumption and possession. In July 2021 rapper Lil Baby was arrested while NBA star James Harden was frisked by Parisian police while the two hung out at Paris Fashion Week. 

Australia

Back in 2015 the story of Tabetha and Georgia-Grace Fulton made some international headlines. At the time their parents moved from Australia to Canada in the name of getting legal access to cannabis oil used to treat a rare lung disease the two young girls suffered from. At that time Australian doctors could only authorize the use of steroids for the girls.

Australia has since then made some strides towards legalization. The current marijuana laws in Australia are reminiscent of an assortment of individual US state policies from the early 2000’s to the present. Similar to the earliest reform in places like California and New York, medical cannabis is only available to a handful of patients that meet a medical criteria. One must also at least be 18 years old and live in the Australian Capital Territory. A would-be traveler should definitely take precaution and be aware of the strict laws against cannabis in Australia

Japan

When I think of Japan I get excited by thoughts of this nation’s rich cultural landscape. I’ve yet to visit, but I’m aware the land of the rising sun is not a friendly place for weed lovers. Recently the nation has seen a sharp surge in marijuana related arrests. Subsequently we are starting to see a nation shifting  from traditional more conservative views on marijuana. The potential for economic surge is a major factor in why Japan and several other nations have shifted their attitudes. Hopefully these trends could have a lasting positive effect on the country.  But until then possession, usage and distribution is extremely risky business.

South Africa 

As I bring this installment to a close I’d like to take a moment to review cannabis in South Africa. Unlike any of the other countries previously listed South Africa is one of the most weed friendly destinations in the world. One of my personal favorite strains is a South African sativa called Durban Poison. Durban Poison is a landrace strain which produces a strong, uplifting heady high. 

 

When in South Africa there are some potential issues that can land a cannabis loving traveler in legal trouble. Sale and purchase are still illegal as well as patronizing one of the many illegal cannabis coffee shops in the country.

In closing my advice to travelers is to stay well informed and to operate in a manner that takes local local laws into consideration. Please make sound and pragmatic decisions about your consumption. We are still in the midst of an asynchronous global cannabis shift so be smart, be safe and be informed!

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What began as an early childhood curiosity unfolded into a committed career filled with passion for Chef Korby Benoit. Chef Korby specializes in vegan cuisine and has done so for nearly 20 years. Originally hailing from Brooklyn, NY he is the son of Haitian immigrants and a product of various cultural movements stemming from New York in 1980’s to the present. Throughout his journey Chef Korby has traversed the worlds of music production, DJing, journalism, fine art and fashion. He is a diverse and impassioned creative who relentlessly seeks to create exciting and inspired plant based foods. In recent years he has created a base in Los Angeles where he has launched a meal prep service named Kafou Alkaline Foods. Chef Korby also produced a vegan food, art and music festival called The Plant BASS’D Festival. He is also working on the release of his forthcoming cookbook entitled “No Mistakes Allowed”. He is also preparing to launch his culinary educational platform, The Kafou Culinary Academy. Driven by his will to remain curious and resourceful, Chef Korby has been active in educating people about his journey and culinary techniques. He remains insightful, enterprising and optimistic about his purpose and the potential for all of the human family.

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