Chaos, Contract, & Control (What The Hunger Games Taught Me About Cannabis Policy)

Oh my! What a maddening bag of badgers this sector can often be. Creating cannabis...

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Dave Barton
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Oh my! What a maddening bag of badgers this sector can often be. Creating cannabis...

Oh my! What a maddening bag of badgers this sector can often be. Creating cannabis content often leads me to grapple with all the peculiarities of this massively complex business: policy being one of them.

I don’t know much about cannabis policy. Don’t know much about politics generally. Or much care for politicians, truth be told. But I do love President Coriolanus Snow from The Hunger Games series (hold on tight to the tangent…).

Actually, I don’t love him. I love Donald Sutherland, who plays him in the movies. But I don’t hate President Snow. And even though he’s a nasty bastard, he gets sh*t done.

As documented in the trilogy’s prequel book – The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes – Old Snowy’s more a victim of circumstances than a one-dimensional villain; a story we get to bear witness to in this tale.

One particularly poignant moment in the story (NON SPOILER!) is when the young ‘Coryo’ discusses the nature of society – and the Games themselves – with head gamesmaker, the fearsome Dr Volumnia Gaul.

Her take on humanity is about as bleak as you’d expect from your average sadist: “ Without control in the form of a contract, chaos will reign” (I’ll say no more… film’s out next year).

Despite her negative stance, there’s a malevolent insight there… which got me thinking about cannabis legalisation (admittedly never far from my mind).

Therefore I’d like to posit that – be it making cannabis mainstream or adjusting to life under COVID – we don’t fear change per se; we fear the uncertainty and disorder that we think change will bring.

Losing Control

Chaos leads to a lack of control. And when we’re not in control of a given situation, everything else is a threat. This is arguably why governments have traditionally demonised and made certain substances illegal.

Exercising control at large can only be effective when the threat is magnified. Hence the more drugs in a person’s possession, the harsher the sentence.

Equally, if we can’t contain chaos in some way, we give it more credibility. Or in other words; unless we have clarity and a way of containing chaos – a contract of sorts – there can be no corresponding judgment or result. There are no parameters.

But having parameters – rules, basically – doesn’t stop us from being creative with the tools we have at our disposal. In fact, they give us a starting point and boundaries to edge up against – and eventually, expand.

Do you actually tho?

Laying Down The Law

Take something as ‘uncreative’ as… governance (shudder!)

As mindnumbingly frustrating as the process of endowing any form of cannabis, in a given jurisdiction, with a governance framework might be; I’d also argue that it’s an essential part of the liberation process.

In other words, we have to play the game by its own rules and then push up against them to broaden the barriers of acceptance.

So, while it may seem equal parts tedious and terrifying to enter into a proverbial contract with an ‘official power’ – whether you’re waiting for your name to be drawn in your District’s reaping, or eagerly anticipating your first cannabis retail license to be drawn in the state lottery – understanding that this is an essential first step towards change is crucial.

Yes, accepting your fate as an omen of ‘the odds’ is a form of contract too – even when they’re not in your favour. But as the OG HG trilogy shows us (ACTUAL SPOILER), even though challenges to Snow’s regime seem futile, all it takes is something to defy the odds to catalyse the deep-set desire for change. And when that change is glimpsed; the uncertainty disappears – and broader change has an opportunity to take root.

At least that what happens in fictional Panem – and real world places where rec use cannabis is legal. Which leads me to ponder: would drugs be legal in Panem (defo the Capitol)?

With a president named ‘Snow’ you’d hope so.

6ft 3 in of Snow


Blog Author
Dave Barton
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