I was caught by the title of this piece: Put the poor before pot: The consequences of legalization by Justin Guiffré, a sophomore majoring in international affairs at George Washington University.
He starts out with the obligatory 4/20 references…
Every year on April 20, college campuses across the nation become flooded with Bob Marley music and a bit more smoke than usual as students discuss the intricacies of life and debate whether or not “Dark Side of the Moon” was meant to sync with “The Wizard of Oz.”
…and then suggests:
One problem that is consistently ignored by these pro-legalization proponents is that legal marijuana would likely make the world very hungry, and I’m not talking about the kind of hunger that can be solved with a trip to Mitchell Hall’s 7-Eleven.
I was really interested at this point, because I had never heard this argument before. Was he suggesting that legalization would move production to the consuming countries, thereby removing a large (albeit illegal) source of revenue to poorer countries? An intriguing, though seriously flawed, notion.
But no, his suggestion was even more bizarre.
Despite my generally liberal stance on marijuana, I am against making it legal. One of the first things that would happen after legalization would be an explosion in production of marijuana. This would likely come from producers of other crops switching over to marijuana. […]
The exchange of food crops for cash crops is already a very serious problem, one visible in the tragic spread of malnutrition and hunger in Ethiopia and Eritrea. As author William Jobin describes in his book Dams and Diseases, “malnutrition lingers as a chronic condition in the dry areas of the Horn of Africa á cotton production is a primary example of the danger of emphasis on cash crops.”
Well, first of all, we’re not getting much marijuana from the Horn of Africa these days, and I doubt seriously that would change significantly with legalization. Marijuana grows anywhere, which means that it’s not going to be tied to a geographic area, thereby driving those countries to avoid growing food crops. It’s going to mostly be grown in the consuming countries, which tend to have sufficient food crops.
If anything, legalization of drugs in general is more likely to take away drug crops from poorer countries (where the black market reigns) forcing them to grow more food crops instead.
Additionally, when it comes to marijuana, advanced techniques make it possible to grow an amazing amount in a very small space. And legalized marijuana will also mean legalized industrial hemp — an incredible source of nutrition. And there we have it – legalized marijuana means more food.
Surprisingly, this hunger issue is something that both sides of the legalization question fail to address properly. Until pro-legalization groups can come with a plan that would effectively mitigate this, I don’t see any reason to even consider legalizing marijuana. If I have to choose between smoking marijuana legally or feeding the world’s poor, I will choose the latter any day of the week, even on 4/20.
First of all, we haven’t addressed it properly because nobody asked us. It would be like chastising us for not addressing the impact of legalization on intergalactic travel — we never thought we needed to address it.