One of the great problems of being an economist is that you see things like an economist.

I have not followed too closely the recent debates in Jamaica about decriminalizing ganja (aka marijuana). The Senate last Friday–fittingly, on what would have been the 70th birthday of Bob Marley–approved that being in possession of less than two ounces of the weed should not bring on a criminal charge. But, some seemed concerned that having possession of much more than that would be a problem. How so? I asked myself.

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Two likkle ounce?

Two ounces a day is equivalent to about 730 ounces or 45 pounds over a whole year. If you are smart and forward-looking, you would see no problem in stockpiling your ‘high grade’ or ‘premium’ stuff, especially if prices are favourable to you as a buyer, or if you are likely to move to a place where access to this good material is not as good. (We’d love to lock in billions of gallons of crude while the price hovers around US$50, no?) So, I would have no problem with seeing someone with that amount, subject to the quality of the answer they gave when collared by the boys in blue and white.

We have laws against driving and drinking–even if they do not seem to be applied, rigorously. We set a limit for how much should be in the blood if in charge of a vehicle. But, we then don’t have a problem with people buying and having in their possession much more than that.

In a scenario similar to a stop for suspected drug possession, would we think it right for legislators to argue that it’s illegal to have in the driver’s possession a case of the white or brown liquid stuff, which had just been procured from the warehouse? “Why so much liqour, my friend?” a policeman may ask. “It’s for a party later tonight,” may be the reply. “Well, off you go and have a great time,” comes back the answer from the officer. No real problem. The officer might think the driver more than a little crazy if he was carrying a case filled with only a glass of scotch, and giving the same answers.

Have I missed a trick or are we–not for the first time–making something out to be worse because we havent really thought it out too well?

What’s that song by The Platters? Smoke gets in your what?

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