However, I dislike the intentional comedy, low-grade punning headlines about cannabis policy 'going to pot' or 'up in smoke' and the like. The criminalisation of cannabis sees thousands of people incarcerated and tens of thousands convicted (thus unable to take many government jobs, work with kids, etc) when they've usually done no harm to anyone, not even themselves.
But even in the netherworld of shoddy journalism characteristic of drugs stories, this BBC report of a police crackdown on cannabis growers stands out both for unintentional comedy and the how-did-any-journailst-get-paid-for-this factor.
With a tinge of hypocrisy I revel in the unintentional comedy, most especially the low-grade punning.
The sidebar has links to related stories, including one headlined 'Cannabis policing relaxed'; yep, it even relaxes coppers.
It goes on
Allan Gibson, of the Association of Chief Police Officers', said it was an "increasing problem which must be nipped in the bud".
Let's see, it's about a police crackdown on drugs, so what should the BBC's subeditor have as the pull-quote in big letters? Information about the raids maybe?
'A lot of people who grow the cannabis are illegal immigrants'
- Det Insp Neil Hutchison
'A lot'? How many is that exactly? They don't say. And in fact don't have that quote anywhere. In the actual quote in the article 'a lot' is only 'sometimes';
The proceeds are used to invest in other crimes, Det Insp Hutchison said, and illegal immigrants are sometimes trafficked illegally to the UK in order to grow the cannabis.
'illegal immigrants are sometimes trafficked illegally' - there's some other way to do it?
But more to the point, why the fuck would anyone risk importing an illegal immigrant to do an easy job that doesn't take much time? Even if it happens a bit, do we really think it's so common that it should be seen as a noteworthy part of drug-growers' strategy?
It's just more of that thread of racism that gets quietly woven into news stories, like when Radio 4 covered the conviction of a driver who'd killed a pedestrian by saying, 'An asylum seeker who killed a woman when he drove...'. Associate one lot of bad people with another, whether there's any truth in it or not.
Police are already using thermal imaging cameras to spot the factories, which can be up to 10 times hotter than a normal house because of the heat from the lights.
Let's say the average house is 21 degrees. Does this mean houses growing cannabis are at around 210 degrees? Are they sure about that?
Not so much need for thermal imaging, just look for the front doors with the fulminating paint blisters.
In the UK, the type of drug which is mainly grown is known as skunk, a strong variant of the drug which is potentially harmful.
Gotta love that, 'potentially harmful'. Can we expect crackdowns on other potentially harmful items? Forks, shampoo, wine glasses, cotton-rich socks?
There are many risks associated with illegal drugs. And a serious proportion of them are entirely caused by prohibition. Drugs being cut with harmful substances (or the flipside, being usually cut so when a pure batch comes through people overdose). People being uninformed or misinformed about the effects. People having to buy from profiteering gangsters who don't give a fuck about them, as opposed to getting quality stuff at a price commensurate with production. But one I'd never thought of was the house fires.
The gangs who run these farms often steal electricity using wiring set-ups which can carry a risk of causing fires.
Then they have a table of 'tell tale signs' so you can shop your local grower.
gardening equipment left outside or a pungent smell coming from the building.
That's my dad - a keen gardener and wonderful cook - fucked then.
Politicians and prohibitionists always weasel out of anything that corners their absurd approach to drugs by saying 'we can't say anything good about drugs because it would send out a confusing message'. Leaving aside the volumes it speaks about their incredibly patronising view of us (you morons only understand THIS IS GOOD or THIS IS BAD), how fucking mixed is this next bit?
In January, the government decided to keep cannabis as a Class C drug...
But on Monday Home Office Minister Vernon Coaker said: "Those who use and sell cannabis will face tough penalties - up to 14 years for cultivation and dealing.
The same law that declassified cannabis increased penalites for supplying it! 'We don't think it's so bad for you to have it after all, so it's important that we're harsher on people who give it to you'.
There is no reason for cannabis to be illegal. None. Really, absolutely none. Get everyone who thinks there is and put them versus me, on my own, on live global TV, stoned off me nuts and I'll still win the debate. Prohibition delivers none of the things it is supposed to do, there is no evidence that it will or can do so, and in the mean time it demonstrably causes a great deal of harm.
This isn't just about smoking dope, or even the right to do what you like to your own body. Just like my high school's banning of boys wearing white socks, it's about normalising the persecution of random activities. So, like new army recruits being made to march round and round for no reason, no matter how much we dislike it, we learn to obey authority.
I could go on all day, but I've written about this elsewhere before, and there's been recent excellent eloquent posts at The Quiet Road and Rhythmic Ginger which between them say all that needs to be said.
The so-called War On Drugs is not a war on pills, powder, plants and potions, it is a war on mental states - a war on consciousness itself - how much, what sort we are permitted to experience, who gets to control it.
- Casey Hardison speaking in Hove Crown Court court, 2005. He was convicted of manufacturing LSD and sentenced to 20 years.