President Obama held a town hall meeting on his recent trip to Kingston, Jamaica where he explained his views on the subject, as well as his concerns about multinationals in the marijuana industry.
One of the participants, wearing a “Rasta4life” wrist band, talked about how the hemp industry could be provide people a “highly feasible alternative to rise above poverty”, in both Jamaica and the U.S. Jamaica has been on an economic downward spiral for several years with unemployment above 13% and 20% of the population living in poverty.
While President Obama sidestepped the issue of Jamaica’s economic & social crisis, he did partly address the marijuana legalization/decriminalization question. Some quotes from his reply are included below:
“How did I anticipate this question?”
“There is the issue of legalization of marijuana and then there is the issue of decriminalizing or dealing with the incarceration in some cases devastation of communities as a consequence of non-violent drug offenses”
“I am a very strong believer that the path that we have taken in the United States in the so-called ‘war on drugs’ has been so heavy in emphasizing incarceration that it has been counterproductive”
He went on to say that he does not anticipate Congress would change national marijuana law “any time soon”. As he has stated before, he did say that actions by states to enact responsible cannabis laws could “spur national debate”.
One area of the President’s concern in marijuana legalization, which did not get much media coverage, but is significant is the impact that big multinational corporations will have on the cannabis industry, if and when marijuana is legalized.
“As is true in the global economy generally, if you have bunch of small and medium sized marijuana businesses scattered across the Caribbean, and this is suddenly legal, if you think that big multinational companies are not gonna suddenly come in and market and try to control and profit from the trade; well that’s I think a real scenario”
There is no doubt that big multinationals will want “in on the action” if marijuana is legalized. Any comprehensive marijuana legalization law on a national level must put the power of the plant in the people’s hands and gardens.
The video of the Kingston, Jamaica Town Meeting marijuana discussion between President Obama and Rastafarian:
Source: “President Obama Speaks at a Town Hall With Young Leaders of the Americas in Jamaica”