Doing the CanCan

According to the World Health Organization around 147 million people worldwide use cannabis; that is 2.5% of the world population. It seems that there are many opportunities to fight illness with cannabis, but predictably much opposition from those making a lot of money through the main stream medical industry. On the other hand, there are also lots of people making money and earning their living from this green revolution. In 2013, Uruguay became the first country in the world to completely legalize marijuana.  There is such fierce debate and division about this pretty plant, so I thought I would share a few facts about the drug and the trade with you from around the world:

CHINA
It may come as no surprise that China apparently holds 309 of the 606 patents relating to marijuana. China is world famous for its traditional medicine which includes herb-based medicines and so it seems fitting that, according to an article in the Independent, China is set to dominate trade in this drug which they were using in medicinal treatments as much as 5000 years ago. Read more here.

ISRAEL
Israel has been called the ‘marijuana research capital of the world’. In 2014, a government-backed Israeli start-up developed the first device of its kind to administer cannabis as a pharmaceutical. The Syqe (pronounced psyche) Inhaler enables patients to inhale metered doses of vaporized cannabis granules. Today, around 20,000 Israelis take doctor-prescribed cannabis. See the documentary: Cannabis Research Studies. Read more about the inhaler here and here.

JAMAICA
On 25 February 2015 Jamaica legalized the recreational use of marijuana and established a licensing agency to regulate a lawful medical marijuana industry. That is right, it was illegal to smoke before then, in spite of the Rastafari movement, born in Jamaica in the 1930s, which regards the herb to have religious significance. The use of marijuana by Rastafarians is a spiritual act and is highly ritualized; the following prayer is said before its use: ‘Glory be to the father and to the maker of creation. As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be World without end: Jah Rastafari: Eternal God Selassie I.’ Read more on the Rastafari here.

NETHERLANDS
Probably the most famous place in the world for smoking weed in public spaces, yet cannabis is actually an illegal class II drug in the Netherlands. The tolerance towards the ‘soft drug’ had been very high since the 1970s but in the 2000s things changed. There was a move to make the notorious coffee shops for Dutch people only with the introduction of a ‘weed pass’ (!!), but that idea has not yet been officially introduced. Nonetheless, one source reports that 193 coffee shops have closed in Amsterdam since 1999 and the mayor of Amsterdam has decided that he will close 70 more in 2015. Read more here.

USA
Absolutely the most baffling, promising and scary country of all regarding this plant in my eyes. It is decriminalized but not legal in many states; Washington and Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana for 21s and over on 26 February 2015 (see an amusing story here); medical marijuana has been legalized in several states and municipalities, generating jobs and saving and improving ‘s thousands of people’s quality of life. Meanwhile young people (of course much higher numbers of black kids) are being arrested and imprisoned for possession which is both expensive and socially destructive; billions of dollars are being spent on the ‘war’ on drugs and at the same time the US is supplying arms to Mexican drug cartels. Watch this brilliant documentary to see a critique of the US involvement in the cannabis trade: The Culture High

Oh and by the way, cannibis and marijuana mean the same thing when talking about the drug, but the plant is called cannibis. Read more about the plant and drug here.

Here are a few more articles and websites for you to browse:

A Vogue Editor Cooks With Pot

Heavy cannabis use ‘linked to lower GCSE results at 16’

7 Stunning Figures that Sum Up Colorado’s Marijuana Market

Teen Challenge UK (help for teens with addictions in UK)

 

And my recipe today … no, I am not going to make anything using the herb. Instead I will give due attention to my Jamaican roots and share with you my method of cooking Rice and Peas. I cooked it at the weekend to eat together with a vegetarian coconut based curry. It goes well together with all Carribean dishes, but also Indian food and many Thai dishes too.

4 large spring onions
2 large cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 6 sprigs of fresh thyme)
2 tins of kidney beans (or two cups of dried beans soaked and stewed until soft)
1 tin coconut milk
300ml of stock  (chicken is good, but vegetable is fine)
200g basmati rice
generous pinch of salt

Cut off and discard the ends of the spring onion. Squash the remaining stems using the palm of your had and the side of a large knife (if you dare not do this then use a large, reasonably flat wooden spoon)  and cut them into 2.5cm (1 inch) pieces. Peel and similarly squash the garlic cloves. Add them to the stock together with the thyme, kidney beans and coconut milk. Bring to the boil and then simmer for about 10 minutes. Wash and rinse the basmati rice and then add to the mixture. Increase the heat keeping the lid off and stir intermittently. Once the rice mix starts to boil again reduce to a low heat and put on the lid. The liquid should be around one centimetres above the level of the solids at this stage. Cooking time can vary drastically between different brands of basmati, so the remaining cooking time could be anything between 10 and 20 minutes. If in doubt, check the packet for instructions.

There are so many different ways to cook Rice and Peas, and mine is by no means the best, but it is pretty simple and tastes good. The best is to use dried beans, and actually my favourite is with black-eyed beans, but I have not tried making it often enough to share with you here. Here is an alternative method from BBC GoodFood accompanied by what looks to be a delicious recipe for Jerk Chicken … I might well try this one out at the weekend rather than relying on my Jerk mix!

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