The British East India Drug Syndicate and The Blazing Captain Barbossa

Gloria Indica

Hi! Welcome to the 12th edition of Gloria Indica, our newsletter written specifically for Wednesdays and Thursdays. If you’re reading this for the first time, then welcome. Wherever you’re from, whenever you’ll read this, this is our newsletter when we train our eyes a bit more specifically to the cannabis, business and technology narratives going on around the world of ours today. Narratives that’ll have an impact on all of us, if not immediately, then definitely in a few years. 

Let’s start blazing. Let’s keep burning bright. 

“Brace up Yards, ya cack-handed deck apes! Dying is the day worth living for! (laughs wildly)”  

Captain Barbossa at the wheel against The Flying Dutchman yelling at his drunk crew members

The Story of the World’s First Drug Cartel Lies In India and China 

The East India Company was the world’s first, full-fledged global commercial enterprise that built a worldwide market for many commodities. What is less talked about though is the fact that the East India Company from its bastion of India (mostly modern day states of Bengal and Bihar) exported and shipped tons and tons of addictive opium to China in order to account for its existing trade imbalance with China, whose tea, silk and porcelain were in high demand in Western Europe, with historians labeling the East India Company as the ‘World’s greatest drug cartel’. 

Here’s Bilan discussing the same:

“The British empire was bankrolled by the milky fluid of the poppy flower; opium. During the 1800s the empire managed a massive drug cartel based in British India that was both state-sponsored and under Royal patronage. The British controlled massive fields of poppy farmed by forced Indian labour and built industrial-scale opium factories. They then smuggled hundreds of thousands of tonnes of the highly addictive drug into China during much of the 19th century.”

“Opium imports to China increased from around 200 chests in 1729 to more than 40,000 smuggled chests (2,160 tonnes) in 1832. After the second Opium War this amount rose to as much as 80,000 chests (4,320 tonnes) per year. The operation was managed by the British East India Company, a trading company owned by wealthy English merchants and aristocrats, which operated under Royal charter. Each chest of opium contained about 54 kilos of semi-processed opium. An average ship could transport about 1,000 chests from Calcutta, the capital of British India those days, to the port of Canton (Guangzhou) in 25 days.”

What happened next is a classic story of capitalism laced and spiked with politics, in many ways mirroring today’s modern trade wars as governments and companies try their best to control the economically valuable technologies of the future. 

The reigning Emperor Dao Guand, whose three sons died from opium overdoses, denounced Britain as “a Christian nation devoid of four of the five Virtues”. He appointed the respected statesman Lin Ze-Xu as the Canton regional Commissioner who wrote “if we continue to allow this trade to flourish, in a few dozen years we will find ourselves not only with no soldiers to resist the enemy, but also with no money to equip the army”

“The British reacted swiftly and went to war; the first of the two Opium Wars, which the British won easily with their superior arms and ships. The spoils of war were immense. China was forced to give over the island of Hong Kong (it remained under British control until 1997), open five ports to Western trade and residence, grant Great Britain most-favoured nation status for trade. It was the start of what Chinese historians refer to as the “century of humiliation“.

Let us not, dear readers pretend as if the modern global drug trade emerged in all its glory only in the recent 21st century. The history of psychedelics is as old as humanity itself and as written before in one of our newsletters, a ‘drug-free’ nation is an impossible dream without any basis in reality. Prohibition will never work. It is time to focus on economics and not vague concepts like morality. 

Let’s keep blazing. 

The Capitalists of Cannabis Are Here

It was obvious that cannabis would begin capitalism’s long march into tapping the potential of psychedelic substances. Not only is cannabis completely safe from a human biology standpoint, the potential of overdose that plagues cocaine, heroin and other synthetic drugs, does not apply to cannabis owing to its molecular similarities with several compounds produced by the human body itself. 

Here’s Todd Harrison writing for Investopedia talking about it: 

“I was looking at tax revenues, job growth, prison populations, crime rates and court systems, all of which would presumably benefit from the legalization and industrialization of cannabis and hemp. A funny thing happened, however, a twist of fate. I began to follow the science and once that occurred, everything changed.”

“The disconnect between perception and reality is where profitability is found and therein lies the forward opportunity. Despite the 30,000-year relationship with humanity, mostly through the lens of health and wellness, cannabis remains massively misunderstood following ninety years of prohibition and propaganda.”

“This won’t be a niche market or cottage industry. As society debates the moral implications, a tsunami of global growth has emerged. Some will continue to smoke it – just as some people still listen to vinyl records—but most won’t. In cannabis 2.0, they’ll eat it, drink it, wear it, rub it on, stick it in and take bubble baths in it. As the wellness aspects are better understood, and once the non-euphoric use-cases and end-products proliferate the global economy, we expect cannabis to become a legitimate asset class that is embraced by Registered Investment Advisors and Financial Advisors.”

We at Marijuana Maharaj believe the same. 

While ancient Indians (4000-2000 BC) were enamoured with cannabis for its medicinal (cannabis is an integral part of India’s ancient medical system based on plants, the Ayurveda and is present in 191 formulations for various acute and chronic illnesses) and recreational uses, a majority of modern Indians are still confused about the role that cannabis plays in India today. A young generation is on the cusp of re-imagining cannabis and once again usher in its acceptance into mainstream society, first as medicine and then into other products starting with food and beverages. 

Let’s keep blazing. 

Remembering Captain Barbossa Again

Captain Barbossa from the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise was the ultimate Pirate, who was intent on rebelling against the excesses of the British East India Company against free pirates who roamed the waters of the Caribbean. The captain dies at the end of the first film, the Black Pearl, is resurrected by the Sea Goddess, defeats the Flying Dutchman with help from Jack Sparrow, gets his leg chopped off while fighting against the pirate lord, Blackbeard, takes refuge with the British crown, then betrays the British Crown, takes his revenge against Blackbeard and then at the end of the fifth film, dies for the only member of his family after his notebook helps find the lost Sword of Poseidon.

Keep Blazing, Captain. 

Have a great day 🙂

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