Involvement in the cannabis trade probably isn't the ideal way to learn how to grow things and sell them to other people. But there's a reason why those who do so need to master some important skills really, really well.
Over on Kiwiblog, DPF has a post decrying Meteria Turei's "claim that Maori growing marijuana are developing entrepreneurial and horticultural skills" and arguing that "the last thing you want is MPs praising drug dealers as entrepreneurs".
On its face, this seems a little odd, given DPF's strong libertarian support for decriminalising cannabis, his concerns about welfare dependency and his passionate support for markets as a means of distribution. After all, if it is fundamentally wrong for the state to tell people they can't grow and smoke marijuana, if producing and distributing it inculcates positive values of work and self-betterment, and if selling it openly not only lets "individuals make their own choices and decisions to meet their aspirations and desires" but also brings it into the white economy where it can be taxed and regulated, exactly what is so wrong with Turei's remarks? Saying "but growing and selling cannabis is illegal!" doesn't really address the issue, which is should it remain illegal ... or should we follow the example of US states like Colorado and Washington as they edge toward permitting a market for the product?
Indeed, one can't help wonder whether DPF's response to these comments is predicated more on the fact it was a Green MP making them than their actual content. A point only strengthened when you consider this quote from a 2011 post:
Wouldn’t it be great I thought to hear Don Brash say something along the lines of “Yes we are going to get rid of the Maori seats, because race based seats are wrong – but we are also going to decriminalise personal use of cannabis, as our current drug laws unfairly penalise young Maori”.
So calling on a wannabe MP to come out and openly support decriminalisation in order to benefit Maori is OK when they are of the ACT persuasion, but should an MP of the Green persuasion say that there are potential benefits for Maori in allowing the open trade of cannabis ... well now, that's just crazy talk!
Meaning that rubbishing Turei's claim that engaging in the cannabis economy has potential benefits for otherwise unemployed Maori is kind of like opposing motorways because it was Hitler who first came up with the idea for Autobahns. And yes, I went with the obvious and totally irrelevant Nazi analogy - but again, DPF has recent form of his own on that score.
Having said all this, however, my reason for posting on this issue wasn't just to land a few cheap blows on a fellow blogger. Rather, it was to indulge my fixation with The Wire. Because Turei's suggestion that involvement in the drug industry can provide good training for broader life skills immediately reminded me of this particular scene from the show's first season.
It involves a young drug dealer, Wallace, who is living in a house with a group of other abandoned children. One of them, Sarah, comes to him for help with a math problem that she has to do for school:
“A bus traveling on Central Avenue begins its route by picking up eight passengers. At the next stop it picks up four more and an additional two at the third stop while discharging one. At the next to last stop, three passengers get off the bus and another two get on. How many passengers are still on the bus when the last stop is reached?”
Despite thinking about it for a while, and taking some obviously random guesses at the answer, she is unable to work the problem out. So Wallace translates the problem into terms she can better understand:
“You working a ground stash. 20 tall pinks. Two fiends come up to you and ask for two each. Another one cops three. Then Bodie hands you off 10 more, but some white guy rolls up in a car, waves you down and pays for eight. How many vials you got left?”
Without missing a beat, Sarah answers correctly: 15. Wallace asks the obvious question: “How the fuck you able to keep the count right, you not able to do the book problem then?”
The answer is simple. “Count be wrong, they’ll f__k you up.”
Probably not exactly what Turei had in mind when she said that involvement in the cannabis trade can be a good training ground for "some real entrepreneurial skills, some real horticulture skills". But probably not too far wrong, either.