Jamaica has long been recognized as the globe's marijuana mecca -- a place where a large percentage of the population not only enjoys the plant's benefits but regards it as a sacrament.
So it's more than a little surprising to discover an editorial in Jamaica's largest newspaper calling for the nation's leaders to emulate officials somewhere else when it comes to pot.
The place? Colorado.
"Follow Colorado On Ganja," published earlier this month by a powerful newspaper called The Gleaner, used Colorado voters' passage of marijuana taxes to argue (using traditional British spelling) for Jamaica's government to "end the procrastination and legalise marijuana, starting with the decriminalisation of the possession of small amounts by individuals for their personal use.
"Apart from the evidence that the world won't collapse from such a move," the piece goes on, "it might make good economic sense for Jamaica -- as Colorado is showing."
Tax revenues could be used to benefit Jamaican society in a range of ways, the editorial maintains. And yet, despite Jamaica's role as "not only a significant producer of marijuana, but, according to anecdotal evidence, of the hemisphere's finest," the piece notes that legalization efforts haven't gone anywhere due largely to two major factors: "fear of the global, especially United States, response to the legalisation of the drug" and "domestic social attitudes to ganja. It is most widely, and openly, used by people on the lower socio-economic rungs."
The editorial portrays the marijuana measures passed in Colorado and Washington, as well as the federal government's decision not to interfere with such state efforts, as undermining the first of these reasons. As for the second, The Gleaner believes legalization will help Jamaican society as a whole, since "thousands of young men, mostly unemployed or poor, are brought before the courts for possession of ganja, found guilty, and left with criminal records. It blocks up an already over-burdened court system with relative trivia."
There's also a marketing opportunity, the editorial points out: "Jamaica has already had pharmaceutical successes from marijuana with drugs for glaucoma. Further, the declared quality of Jamaican ganja and the mystique of the brand gives a competitive advantage, which we should leverage."
Or, as Peter Tosh might say, "Legalize it."
Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.
More from our Marijuana archive: "Medical marijuana critic vs. U.S. Customs: William Breathes's Jamaica travel diary, Part 1."