Friday, November 17, 2006

upwards at 210 degrees

Media reporting on the use of illegal drugs is always prone to comedy.

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.


Anonymous said...

Check out this story on immigration:

Anonymous said...

Hi Merrick. One argument I've heard is that there is no roadside test to determine the level of intoxication for cannabis. It is possible to determine whether someone has cannabis in their system, but not whether they are actually impaired by it.

Is this true?

I know you're going to come back and point out that more people smoke (and therefore smoke and drive) in UK than in Holland, and that kind of line, and I'm also aware that stoned drivers tend to become cautious, unlike drunk drivers, (figures here: show that similar proportions of people drive when stoned as drive when drunk, and only about a tenth as many were involved in fatal crashes, and that figure is lowered still further when you take into account that many of the driviers who had cannabis in their systems had also taken alcohol or some other intoxicant - but do you have any ideas on how people could be prevented from getting too stoned to drive, and then driving anyway?

I know that beyond a point, it can affect my depth perception, and I have driven badly myself because I've been on a real rush following a nice big hit from a bucket. How can idiots like me be kept from doing harm to the public at large?

Anonymous said...

One argument I've heard is that there is no roadside test to determine the level of intoxication for cannabis. ..How can idiots like me be kept from doing harm to the public at large?

er...make it illegal to get fucked on drugs and drive (like we do with alcohol) instead of making it illegal to get fucked on drugs.
who wants to drive anyway. i hate cars. ban driving i say.

merrick said...

Paul, the fact that some people smoke cannabis and drive is no reason to ban cannabis.

You're right that there's no test for a psychoactive level in the bloodstream (though it stays detectable for about a month). However, why can't police use co-ordination tests to see if a driver's safe or not?

More, if the stoned driving is really the concern, why not make it criminal to be a smoker and a driver; if a driver is found with any detectable level of cannabis, prosecute.

It would be wholly unfair on the driver who'd had a spliff a fortnight ago, but it would be a lot fairer on society than banning it for those of us who never drive.

Why should I be persecuted and jailed for doing something that might ake me a dangerous driver when I don't drive? Should we prosecute people for being blind while we're at it?

And really, as our provocative Anonyperson said, there's perhaps more of a case for banning driving. What's the number one cause of death for children under 14?

Even those who are not under the influence of anything and driving carefully are utterly lethal. As George Monbiot pointed out, we're moving towards banning smoking in pubs for reasons that should also make us ban driving.

While smokers have an undisputed right to kill themselves, they have no right to kill other people. This case being generally applicable, what does the government intend to do about passive driving?

Every year, according to a paper published by the British Medical Journal, some 54 bar staff in the United Kingdom die as a result of their exposure to other people’s cigarette smoke. And every year, according to the European Union, some 39,000 deaths in this country are caused or hastened by air pollution, most of which comes from vehicles.

Anonymous said...

Hey Merrick, thanks for the chuckle!

Whenever I try to turn the thermostat up to 210 degrees, my wife Claire dissolves into a puddle on the kitchen floor!

I have a grow room in my basement next to my home office. I’m a medpot patient, living in one of eleven states that allow me not only to use but to grow cannabis.

Started using when I was puking my guts out from cancer chemotherapy. Claire suffers from intense migraines, so we both have a spliff now and again..

I use an ebb and flow hydroponic system to grow six female plants every four months. That supplies us with enough buds to grind into our medicine.

If you find yourself in the same boat, but don’t know how to get started, let me direct you to a very helpful website, Advanced Nutrients Medical.

They will not only supply you with helpful information, but will also offer you extremely effective nutrients, supplements, and bloom enhancers to make your growing experience an unforgettable one.

If you’re growing in coco-coir, you must try Monkey Juice, Grow and Bloom, which is specifically tailored for growing cannabis in that particular medium.

Growing at a remote outdoor location, what could be better than Heavy Harvest, Spring, Summer, and Fall, which is a time-release, granule-type synthetic fertilizer, that only has to be applied three times a year. Let Mother Nature do the rest, I say…

If 100% organic is your desire, you will have to test out Iguana Juice, Grow and Bloom, as well as Organic B and Colossal Bud Blast.

To grow buds as big as they do in British Columbia, go for Bud Blood, Big Bud, and Overdrive as bloom enhancers. Use only in sequence, otherwise your cannabis will fry.

Don’t wanna take my word? Call their tech guys yourself. It’s a free call and they’ll enlighten you as to their species-specific, research-perfected nutrients, especially designed to meet the needs of medpot growers.

merrick said...

Wow wes, thanks for that linktastic Comment.

how fortunate you are to live somewhere that lets you get your effective medicine.

As I've said previously, to say to people whose lives are ruined by serious painful conditions 'we have a medicine but you can't have any even if the only effects are positive' is as cruel an act as I can imagine.