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Five places to start your new career as a marijuana farmer

By Pieta Woolley

During Canada’s recent federal election, then-candidate Justin Trudeau promised to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana.” And, it seems, the only question now is where we’ll be able to acquire it. Liquor stores? Regulated cannabis dispensaries? Dens of iniquity? Church?

In December’s Observer, I took a look at the church’s historic responsibility for criminalizing the drug, and marijuana’s potential relationship to spiritual practice in the post-prohibition era. Christians, in particular, may be interested in legalization for the simple call to “free the captives.” Over two million Canadians have been arrested on pot-related charges.

But Canada isn’t alone in warming up to Mary Jane. While our leaders hash out the small print, farmers in other countries are busy sowing seeds and harvesting their own bounty.

Here are five countries that are out ahead on growing marijuana for personal use.

1. Uruguay

When: August 2014

What: The country allows up to six plants at home for personal use.

Insightful online comment: “Wait, how is six plants per household "fully legal?" I bet they can grow a whole backyard full of tomatoes, but yet, let's limit how many pot plants you can have. I mean yes, congratulations Uruguay that's awesome. But telling someone how many plants they can legally have is still controlling.” (Troy Harper, Vice Magazine)

2. Jamaica

When: February 2015

What: The country allows up to five “ganja” plants for personal use.

Insightful online comment: “Tourist to get licence to purchase small quantity. Oh please, tourists have been smoking pot in their hotel. And the hotel has been turning a blind eye to it. Check the all inclusives. Why do you think they keep going back? Cos it's the best and it's natural.” (Unidentified, The Guardian)

3. Bangledesh

When: Always

What: No laws govern the growing or imbibing of marijuana.

Insightful online comment: “Absolutely not true that cannabis consumption is traditional in Bangladesh. It's highly taboo. If you're a foreigner, though, the police won't even dare to come close to you. By far, the easiest way to get a hold of ganja is to just ask a rickshaw driver for it; 90 percent of them will be eager to make a run to get some for you, and I'd say about 30 percent have some on them at the moment. Assuming you're a foreigner, you'll pay 10 times more than what's reasonable. You can haggle them down, but compared to western prices, it's already very cheap. S****y weed, though.” (unidentified, webehigh.org)

4. Mexico

When: November, 2015

What: The Supreme Court ruled that preventing people from growing for personal use is unconstitutional. First licenses were granted soon after.

Insightful online comment: “You don't even need to believe that smoking cannabis is a right. Simply accept that criminal laws should not exist to regulate personal decisions; they exist to protect people from each other. Even if I were to agree that smoking cannabis is a terrible life choice (I don't), people are free to make terrible life choices, like binge eating or getting a face tattoo. It's the classic conflation of sin with crime.” (Daniel O’Brien, The Atlantic)

5. USA (regulated by state)

When: Oregon (2015); Alaska (2014); Colorado (2012); Washington (2012)

What: Laws vary by state, but each allows some plants for personal use.

Insightful online comment: (From Oregon) “The local pot place in Coos Bay, Stonies, is selling at $15 per gram, which is $420 per ounce — almost three times the cost of really good black market weed. At that price, our new greenhouse has already paid for itself. (I) went to the garden section of Fred Meyer, asked the lady who worked there what they had for pot plants, and got into a discussion about growing techniques with her and several customers — all 60-ish. Everyone pulled out their smart phones and showed off pictures of their plants. Love this place.” (Andrew B Suhrer, Huffington Post)

Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
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