In her debate with Vice-President Mike Pence last Tuesday, Senator Kamala Harris noted that a Biden-Harris administration would decriminalise marijuana possession and its use when it came to power.  

Pot stocks went through the roof which indicated that investors had a pretty good idea about the outcome of the US presidential race. Meanwhile, the hospital that recently treated President Trump for Covid-19 quietly changed its name to the Walter Weed Medical Centre. 

That it was a surprise at all was, in itself, surprising. Pot is legal in 11 American states while it’s already been decriminalised in 16 others. As actor Bill Murray wryly observed: “I find it ironic that the only thing dangerous about weed now is getting caught with it.” 

Which just goes to show how much the US has changed over the years.  

In the 1960s while the Beatles tripped out and turned on, US Poet Laureate Ogden Nash disapprovingly observed that “Pot Is Not.” 

This was in sharp contrast to American football legend Joe Namath during the same period. Asked which surface he’d prefer, Broadway Joe replied famously; “I don’t know if I’d prefer Astroturf to grass. I’ve never smoked Astroturf.” 

Still, the football legend pales beside a musician like Willie Nelson who reserved his pot intake to only two occasions: when it rained and when it didn’t. 

In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan advised American youth to “Just Say No” to grass while just saying yes to an ice-cold Scotch and soda. 

Things began changing in the 1990s when Bill Clinton admitted to smoking pot in college while famously insisting “I did not inhale” even when he was known to inhale whole steaks for dinner at the White House, an idiosyncrasy that might have had a hand in the heart condition he developed later. 

Things moved up a gear a generation later. Asked the inevitable question, Barack Obama admitted that he did indulge at Harvard. 

And did he inhale?

Frequently, countered the President, “I thought that was the whole point.” 

Enter Senator Kamala Harris, a former Attorney General for the state of California. She not only has freely admitted to having smoked pot in her younger days, but cheerfully espouses it, saying recently “it brings joy and we need more of that around.” 

It also seems to have had an American tradition stretching way back. George Washington used it occasionally while Thomas Jefferson said it was one of his greatest pleasures. 

And it could reduce at least one intractable problem. For all its power and wealth, the US has some very dubious distinctions. Standout example: on a per capita basis, the US has the largest number of prisoners behind bars. Decriminalising pot would certainly improve matters. 

As actor Morgan Freeman noted: “Treat it like alcohol and you’ll put the pusher out of business. Sell it and tax it.”

Indeed, it’s getting to be big business. By 2027, it’s estimated that the legal market for marijuana will top US$73.6 billion: put that into your Treasury pipe and smoke it.  

Meanwhile, more and more countries are jumping on the medical marijuana bandwagon. Canada, Mexico and Brazil have already legalised it while, closer to home, you can get it legally in Bangkok. 

In the future, there might be little shame in selling the product. Since it is a plant after all, you might still get away with calling yourself a florist. 

The Green, Green Grass Of Home

All over the world, smart business folk are creating start-ups and traditional businesses are being “disrupted.”

Taking a leaf out of Elon Mask – the enfant terrible of global disruption – the state assemblyman for Jeram, Selangor recently proposed what might be considered the “disruption” of Malaysia’s traditional agriculture.

The Honourable Member proposes replacing palm oil, rubber, or coconuts with a new crop.


It is an extraordinary idea and unheard of since the Cro-Magnon period whose inhabitants derived the idea from the inhabitants of an earlier period, the now-fabled Stoned Age. 

Hannah Yeoh winced and decided she was better off in the federal government than remaining the Speaker of the Selangor state assembly. As a woman, she’d heard all about the glass ceiling but this was the first she’d heard of one made of grass. It seemed that everything could be going to pot. 

The rocket scientist from Jeram wanted to return Malaysia to its halcyon days of being an Asian tiger economy. That admirable and lofty perch had been fuelled by a combination of foreign direct investment and exports, lots of it. So he had asked the state government to study the cultivation of cannabis for medical and export purposes that is to say for fun and profit.

Such a move by Selangor could potentially make it the world’s biggest producer of ganja and reap handsome profits said Mohd Shaid Rosli for that was the name of said RS.

The rocket scientist was learned because he ate a lot of fish which made him smart enough to know that it was possible for Selangor to undertake the venture, as the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 stated explicitly that “any” government department was allowed to grow ‘ganja’ for medical use. 

The problem there, of course, was that the Act did not extend to private companies like IO-High and Slime Darby. 

The West had proved long ago that pot had medical benefits. The logic went something like this: Laughter was the best medicine. Pot made you laugh ergo pot was good, if not the best, medicine.  

Mr Shaid had come to the same conclusion although he cited better logic than the example above. 

He said a study on ‘ganja’ cultivation for medical and export purposes had been carried out by Universiti Sains Malaysia’s National Poison Centre director Prof Dr Mohamed Isa Abd Majid in cooperation with a local company, Keep on the Grass Sdn Bhd, with good results. 

The fish-loving, knowledgeable state assemblyman estimated that the planting,  processing and export of ganja could yield returns of about RM9 million for a one-acre piece of land through three harvests annually.

“This amount is higher than the returns on palm oil of only RM3,000 a year per acre. If Selangor gets to produce more than 100 acres, we will be the world’s biggest producer and we will get attractive returns,” said the savvy pescatarian. 

The canny Mr Shaid may have unearthed an idea whose time is fast approaching. Even strait-laced Singapore has indicated that its universities have begun researching the medical effects of grass although the city-state said it would confine its grass-laced research to its synthetic variety and not the natural variant.

Last year, US$81 billion worth of cannabis products were legally sold worldwide. And there are already a number of billion dollar companies exclusively dealing in the product.

The two biggest ones are Canada’s High & Dry and the US’ Weed Be Good Together.