Jim Duffy: Let’s throw legalising cannabis into the melting pot

Legal to use in some countries but still beyond the pale in the UK, marijuana has a mixed reputation. Picture: Getty Images
Legal to use in some countries but still beyond the pale in the UK, marijuana has a mixed reputation. Picture: Getty Images
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As he hits 50, Jim Duffy says he’s old enough to be trusted with altering his mind with freely-available alcohol or with a prohibited drug.

I’m hitting 50 years of age and I’m not allowed to legally purchase and enjoy marijuana in my own home. Why not? Can I not at this age make decisions on my own welfare, health and recreational activities? Does the state have to control everything? Oh, but the world is changing, my friends, and it’s only a matter of time before Scotland and the UK wake up to the tax riches and drop in crime that legalising cannabis can bring. Why can’t Scotland create its own Gangapreneurs?

I can buy the legalised mind-bending drug that is called alcohol freely from the supermarket and the boozer. This drug, which leads to all sorts of outcomes for people, is heavily taxed and occupies a whole aisle within the supermarket - and sometimes two isles! I can have all sorts of wonderful products from stunning new world red wines to beautifully aged malt whiskies to eloquent craft gins to fizzy, crisp Prosecco. All designed to taste good, but let’s be honest either relax us or give us a buzz. But like all drugs, there are darker sides.

I have to say that when I was a cop in the East End of Glasgow, I never once had to deal with an aggressive, angry man who had been smoking cannabis. But I had to deal with a shed load that had been drinking alcohol. The evidence is there for all to see that our hospital accident and emergency departments are filled with alcohol-related incidents each evening. So, why can I buy this drug and not some ganga?

And if one is a legally abiding citizen, then it is really difficult to actually buy marijuana. If I so wished, I could either search out a drug dealer with all the hassle that brings. This means I would meet people I do not trust and who could endanger me. It also means that they could sell me low-grade weed or cannabis that I would not be able to source the provenance of. As a novice, I have no idea whether it is ‘good shit’ or simply rubbish. I have no idea if it has impurities within it or where it has been grown or made and indeed, where the profit from my purchase goes.

Or I can delve into the murky world of Tor and the dark net. This means I would have to download the Tor browser and sign up to a world I don’t completely understand. It means I am playing with stuff that I know others use, but that somehow does not quite feel pucker. Even the name – Dark Net - scares me and to be honest, puts me off. But, I have friends who are on the Dark Net and who regularly buy stuff from it. I guess it’s a bit like selling under the counter stuff, but only virtually. It’s a big dilemma as I don’t know where any profits go there either as a result of my purchase. Could I indeed be funding terrorism?

Or, I can jump on a plane to the USA. The legalisation of marijuana in the USA has been moving at breakneck speed. States and territories across America have adopted regulations to allow for both medical and recreational use. A whole new breed of PotPreneurs has blossomed. Gone are the days when marijuana was considered taboo. And cannabis start-ups are cashing in on the action. Indeed they are attracting venture funding.

The on-demand pot deliver industry is booming. Eaze, a San Francisco-based start-up who wants to become the Uber of marijuana delivery, has scooped more than $10 million in venture funding. Go figure. So, if I head over to the States, I don’t even need to go shopping – it gets delivered straight to my door via an App. How cool is this?

Anyway, back to my 50th birthday and my desire to smoke some pot. It doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. I won’t lose any sleep over it, mind you. But I would like to have the choice at my age to make an informed decision on whether I want to alter my mind on my birthday with alcohol or pot. Who knows, instead of a bottle of malt whisky, if the law had been different one of my party patrons could have brought me a bag of finest grade grass that I could pop in a pipe and enjoy. Now would that be a happy birthday indeed. However, not likely.

The new age experiment in the USA with so many states legalising cannabis will take a generation to assess whether or not it has had a deleterious affect on those who puff it. Will the taxes collected be worth it in the end? Time will tell.

But I wonder if Scotland could change its attitude towards cannabis and perhaps innovate on becoming a new-age supplier in Europe. I’ve even thought through how to cultivate it. Stick the cannabis factories right next to the data centres and pump the heat through. Job done.

Up until that day, I’m staying on the right side of the law and will be sipping my favourite malt when I hit the big five-O.