The world’s smallest island nation is banning alcohol and legalizing cannabis. Members of the Nauruan Parliament approved a measure legalizing the sales, cultivation, use and possession of marijuana for adults on the island with a fifteen to four vote.
Nauru now joins Uruguay as one of the two nations to outright legalize the plant. Government offiials say the hope to boost travel to the extremely remote island, which has been almost entirely decimated by 50 years of phosphate strip mining.
“Legalizing marijuana will do a great many things for our country,” said Nauruan President Baron Waqua. “We will have a new green industry to employ Naurans. Tourism will undoubtedly flourish. I mean, nobody even knew what or where Nauru was yesterday. Now you’re all looking it up on Google Earth.”
|Nauru President Baron Waqa.|
The tiny country was once one of the richest per-capita in the world. At one point, phosphate mining was a huge economic boom for the country during the 1960s and 1970s. But in the 80s and 90s the bat poop began to run out. By 2011, the mining operations had all but ceased. With phosphate mining long gone as a viable industry for the tiny island nation, the locals are turning to whatever they can to draw people to the 8.1 square speck of Micronesian paradise. During the 1990s the place became a tax haven and international money Laundromat. But that failed to sustain the country, so they turned themselves into a penal colony for Australia.
With the environment completely shot and little hope of anyone actually visiting the country for their suspicious lack of wildlife, government officials say they were looking for anything that might boost their economy.
“That’s when I went to visit a cousin of mine in Colorado in the U.S.A.,” explains Parliament member Dagga Bhang. “I saw how much people were obsessed with the plant and how much traction it was getting in the news lately, and figured we should hop on some of that. You know, ride on the back of the popularity of this whole legal pot thing. It’s working, right? I mean, there’s probably thousands of stoners with a computer all over the world is looking up flights to get here.”
The country has also been ravaged by alcohol abuse. In order to offset that, Nauruan leaders say that they will be subsidizing cannabis seeds for all residents and will be imposing a 420 percent excise tax on all alcohol imported to the island.
Waqua says the Nauru board of tourism has been swamped with calls, adding that the tape on their answering machine has filled up three times now. “I swear, it’s like half of southern California is trying to figure out how to move here and start a dispensary.”
TWA airlines has announced they will begin direct flights from Denver’s Stapleton International Airport later today, April 1. The country has also altered their flag, removing a star from a field of blue and replacing it with a nine-spear cannabis leaf.