Monday, 4 October 2010

FT Reports Telling Signs in US

Updated 22/11/2010

Slightly slow update on the marihuana issue in this article, but I’m sure all those interested have already seen the news. For the rest and for the record, here are links to read about the failed attempt to legalise marihuana in California for recreational use.  It was close though!!

For an in depth analysis, including expanation of the map, click here.

For general news, see the Dallas News and the Examiner.


Updated on 28/10/2010

Photo credit and article - In Humboldt County, deputies' jobs can get hazy (Los Angeles Times)

Headband, Mr. Nice, L.A. Confidential, Blue Dream, Amnesia, Purple Diesel, Ice Queen, Grapefruit, Blueberry and Sour Diesel – these are some of the names given to different varieties of marihuana being grown in Humboldt County, California.  Marihuana has gone from possession leading to a felony to growing it under the nose of the Deputy Sherriff without any action being taken at all.  Californian’s will vote on whether to legalise this drug on November 2 as explained below.

US drug policy
The need for cash is prodding public policy towards legalising and taxing drugs.

This Financial Times (FT) story is about Proposition 19 which will be on the ballot in California in November to legalise marihuana because 700,000 people signed a petition for it. Marihuana is reported to be their largest cash crop! I found it hard to believe that California with its huge agricultural economy including wineries, fruit and vegetables claims that an illegal substance is its top crop! So, I looked into this on the Internet and found a 2006 report by Drug Science.org that claims “marijuana is the largest cash crop in Alaska, Alabama, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia.” In addition, Drug Science gives statistics that marihuana was one of the top three cash crops in 30 states in 2003-2005, although California was in the lead by a long shot with an estimated marihuana crop value of $13,848,267. The next largest marihuana crop was in Tennessee amounting to $4, 787,250. It would appear that if this proposition passes, it may take like wild fire and spread right across the country.

I found this photo under images for marihuana on the Internet (photo credit). I hadn’t thought of it beforehand, but once you read about the next two FT articles, you will see that three problems could be solved in one go. Why not legalise marihuana, sell it in fast food restaurants and grow it on industrial farms?! Oh, I feel guilty about even saying this because I think it is so preposterous. But the logic is not far from what is already happening.

The big pharmaceutical companies probably backed this proposition.  They’ve likely already set up a supply chain and marketing strategy, possibly like this one.

US ensures funds for fast food operators
A new law, which raises to $5m the limit on small business loans guaranteed by the government, aims to make financing available to franchisees in an effort to spur growth and job creation.

This new law was probably backed by the big fast food chains such as McDonalds although the article only mentions Popeye’s Chicken and Biscuits (when I was young, he liked spinach!!), Papa John’s Pizza and Denny’s family restaurants.

Despite the umpteen books, articles, and videos produced lately that tell of the problems with fast food diets, the US is promoting more of it.

TIAA-CREF raises farming exposure
The US asset manager is ramping up its exposure to agriculture by buying a specialist investment firm, in an effort to double its activities in the emerging area of ‘real asset’ investing.

This type of investment would be backed by a lot of multi-national players in the agri-food business, not least of all, Monsanto because it basically involves industrial farming. The issues with industrial farming are manifold, but make for entertaining DVDs such as Food, Inc.  And as Masanobu Fukuoka said in The One-Straw Revolution, [i]n general, commercial agriculture is an unstable proposition.

Conclusion
All three of these stories are based on the pursuit of economic growth. Promoting drugs, the proliferation of fast food restaurants and investing in industrial farming are clear signs that economic growth in the US is more important than wholesome food and good health.

Another conclusion that can be deduced from these premises is that if more people smoke marihuana, more people won't mind eating in fast food restaurants and pensions collapsing due to unstable investments won't be a problem, because more people will probably succumb to some illness due to poor diet and die before they retire.  But meanwhile, the economy will pick up for awhile and a small elite will be better off financially.  It's a good thing life doesn't always follow logic, but it makes me wonder...