Follow the money to win this wacky race

LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
LEP Columnist Barry Freeman
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Wonder when the UK will finally get around to legalising marijuana (AKA cannabis, herb, weed, dope, skunk, ganja, spliff, wacky baccy, fatty boom blatty, tea and much, much more)?

One suspects, ultimately, that the economics will make this decision for us. Actually, let me rephrase that: the economists will make this decision for us.

That shower tends to call the shots on most matters of note these days, don’t they?

And you can bet your sweet pink, black, whatever the hue, backside that the figures currently being bandied around this minty fresh legitimate global industry have set their voracious business heads turning all the way from The City to Wall Street.

Every indication thus far is that those corners of the world which recently decided – via the ballot box – to legalise, license and hopefully, ultimately, control marijuana have gotten in at the ground floor of a mellow gold mine.

The United States alone, or so it is soberly forecast in the financial pages, will soon cop an annual $10bn (£6bn) windfall courtesy of pioneering states like Colorado and Washington and their democratic move to decriminalise.

That’s not a typo. Six. Billion. Quid. Every year by 2018. Most of it totally new money to the legitimate economy, shifted overnight from countless untaxed criminal backwaters to the communal pool from which we all sup.

Aready, purpose-built business infrastructure is forming around this ripe wealth generator, scores of new companies, some already multi-million concerns, initially to exploit existing demand, but also in anticipation of opportunities to come.

Folding money is being made, today, jobs created, both in the US states, in Uruguay (which in 2012 gave the drug a green light), maybe soon Peru, and, of course, China.

Despite remaining illegal in the People’s Republic, of 606 current cannabis related patents some 309 originated in China. Needless to say, by the time Britain gets in gear, so to speak, that cash-laden ship will long have sailed.

Which prompts me to wonder... Who is to say that, in the end, it will necessarily be British economists who get the casting vote? Might China be petty enough to pursue belated vengeance for the Opium Wars? Maybe, maybe not.

But I would.