What to do about marijuana cultivation and consumption is an issue that continues to fester in the South Pacific island republic of Fiji. Pot farmers have battled police to protect their crops and complained to their representatives about being harassed.
Consumption is high, and good citizens worry about things like pot-smoking by elite athletes. And the Fijan police do what prohibitionist police do: destroy crops and make marijuana busts. Just a few weeks ago, police bragged about seizing $50 million worth of weed from one popular growing region over the past five years.
Now, in the latest marijuana policy flare-up, the head of the Fiji Council of Social Services, a non-governmental organization, has called for the government to discuss legalizing marijuana. In a statement last week thanking the government for taking a dispassionate stance on whether to allow casinos on the islands, council head Hassan Khan suggested the government apply that same dispassionate stance — without injecting religious fervor — toward discussing marijuana legalization. Marijuana sales could provide revenue for Fiji, he said.
It already provides an income for many families on the islands. A school principal bemoaning pot-smoking by students said that marijuana farming supported most of his students’ families. “It’s their livelihood, so the children will see it from there,” he said.
Khan’s comments, as mild as they were, excited an outraged reaction from at least one Fijian blogger. “Bloggers, well now you have Hassan Khan, the Director for Human Services openly advocating for the lawful sale of marijuana to provide extra revenue for Fiji!” warned a blogger known as “Free Fiji.” “He should be ashamed of himself and resign! I ask Khan, apart from his short sighted revenue making, what will it cost the tax payers of Fiji in terms of social and cultural denigration? Khan would not even dare saying the same thing in India or Pakistan. I cannot help but suspect some sinister motive to decimate the Fijian race and this kind of open advocating of legalizing an illegal substance, which is illegal in most part of the world is truly shocking. I like to challenge you ‘silent ones’ do you continue to pretend all is okay in the heartland, where people in positions of responsibilities openly advocating the potential sale of marijuana or are you too stoned out of your head to think clearly?”
And so go the cannabis culture wars in the South Pacific.