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Cannabis and Crime;

Legalising Cannabis to Reduce Crime Rates in Developing Nations

By Azreen MahmoodPublished 4 years ago 5 min read
Cannabis and Crime;
Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

Why is cannabis banned where it originates but a growing industry in North America?

I was once studying with a friend who’d been doing his assignment on the legalisation of cannabis in Canada and the implications of it; good or bad. I remember discussing something along the lines of tax but that was the end of it.

Recently however, I saw the movie Extraction and something in my mind ticked. There are hundreds, if not thousands of movies based on drug wars (smuggling, dealing, distributing etc.) but why this movie stood out is because of its setting being in India and Bangladesh (I’m originally from Bangladesh and can thus give a first-hand account of the weed scene in Dhaka, which is much less dramatic than in the movie, yet much more pathetic when in comes to distributors, and the war is between the police and smugglers, rather than international.)

Cannabis is illegal in both Bangladesh and India (although there has been some hubbub in the past in India to legalise it, and as an avid cannabis consumer, I support it.)

I’ll explain why.

Crimes related to cannabis use is high as one would expect it to be. It’s an appealing substance, and people want it. Even more when it’s illegal. In Dhaka, where the movie is set, cannabis is not only illegal but penalised by death in a draft law (sourced from Reuters.)

Contrary to the portrayal in movies, drug dealers in developing nations aren’t some rich, big shots living in mansions. Rather the complete opposite.

Cannabis is most popular among the lower to middle socio-economic group and is supplied by literal kids living in slums, who often times don’t have a roof over their heads and dealing cannabis is their only source of daily bread and butter.

And the Police are authorised to shoot down and kill these drug dealers who don’t have much of an existence to begin with. There lies a moral dilemma here, regarding the objectification of crime – who’s the real criminal here?

These people born into poverty have no education or qualification to earn a legal living and the government does nothing to support their lives. Unemployment benefits as in the west don’t exist in countries like mine, so what do people do? They turn to whatever is out there for sustenance and sadly for them it’s illegal business as drug dealing.

These “criminals” are the ones that fill up more than quarter of Bangladeshi prisons. 35 % of inmates are in prison because of drug offences in Bangladesh, so just for arguments sake, if cannabis was legal in Bangladesh, 35% crime would be reduced and that’s a substantive number (sources listed.)

Returning to what I mentioned about my friend’s assignment – I may not have thought about it had I not had that conversation with him, for I’m no economics person and fiscal policies are beyond my realms of study and interest. But even as a layman with no such concrete knowledge, it makes sense. I did some reading and to the amateur eyes it would seem that if government takes control and legalises such an attractive drug it would bring a barrage of tax revenue and that alone is motive enough to legalise it.

That was my thought process too, but it seems cannabis isn’t surmounting to nearly enough tax revenue for Canada as was expected. Where it was anticipated to be 100 millions it only amounted to 66 millions this year. It’s a fascinating reverse phenomenon. The average price of an oz of weed in Dhaka would be over 300 USD, which is much higher than what I get it for in Canada, and only suggests the overall revenue of the illegal weed industry is higher its legal counterpart and although this is merely speculation for now, weed is much more profitable when illegal than when legal.

I have my own theory as to why this reverse phenomenon occurs.

It’s common philosophy that you want what you can’t have. But a better way to theorise this phenomenon in psychological terms is through the theory of adaptation, the Hedonic treadmill, which is the human tendency to quickly return to a relatively stable level of happiness despite major positive or negative events or life changes.

When cannabis is illegal people have to acquire it through criminal sources and they’re willing to spend more money on the same thing someone else is getting for 100 CAD because that’s what they have to do. Where it’s legalised people buy the same amount and no more just because its legal and they don’t have the desire to get more as they’ve adapted to the new condition. This explains why the cannabis industry isn’t booming – people are simply used to it being legal that they don’t have the temptation to ‘score some pot’ they can get it whenever they want.

More than half of the money that disappears in the black market could go to legal tax files and be used to implement national growth, but no! being swayed by religion and culture and so-called morals, drug and alcohol is banned giving rise to the illegal dealings, giving rise to crime.

Of course, there are other crimes that can occur if cannabis is legalised, drug related crimes would be easier to monitor by the government, compared to where it isn’t.

But I also have personal reasons why I believe that cannabis should be legalised in more places.

I suffer from migraine and there is no conclusive evidence that weed helps migraine, yet but from personal experience I can say Indica and its sedative effect has reduced my migraine severity. Cannabis isn’t only recreational and has medical purposes too; more than we are currently aware of and it’s a field where there’s much, much scope for research. And as the world steps out of ancient restrictions that are not needed for the modern lifestyle, isn’t it only progressive to legalise cannabis? Use the fund spent on catching drug criminals on better purposes.

Lastly, I’ll end this piece with a fun fact about cannabis use in Bangladesh.

Despite the ban on cannabis, there are groups of people in particular regions, followers of Sufism and Lalon philosophy for whom smoking weed is part of a meditative process that brings the devotee closer to god – but that’s a tale for another story.

Cannabis should be legalised to consumers that already exist in the shadows, of for nothing else but to reduce crime rates in developing nations.


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About the Creator

Azreen Mahmood

i write

to make sense of what's wrong around me

to let my emotions find a place

to say there's another perspective, always

if you like what i have to say a small tip would be much appreciated,

thank you for taking the time and interest <3

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