Cannabis smoking is effectively legal. Possession of cannabis is often excuse with a limp “cannabis warning” and it is unashamedly smoked in the open. Yet the cannabis lobby continues to shout the cannabis use is persecuted. With skunk shops opening on suburban streets, James Garry cares to disagree.
In the nondescript suburbia where I live, there is probably an Acacia Lane. Every suburbia needs an Acacia Lane to lend it a quaint Englishness. I have just checked the map and, indeed, there is a street bearing the name of the acacia. There are also streets bearing the names of elm, oak, maple, ash and willow. Such names conjure the comfort of living halfway between the capital and the country.
I wonder what the names of future developments shall be: Cannabis Close? Sativa Street? I do not ask this flippantly for, in an increasingly commercialised and shabby street on the border of this town and the next, there is a shop called Skunk Shop or Skunk Works or Skunk Factory or Skunk Emporium. Something like that. And, no, they do not retail accessories for noisome polecats but accessories for the noisome weed.
The dingy shop is directly opposite a major supermarket. The colour of its exterior is black and green, that jarring coordination beloved of dope-smokers. It sells everything to do with cannabis except cannabis itself. Most of its products bear the sativa leaf motif. In front of the shop is a parking space large enough for two cars.
Is this not evidence, contrary to the cannabis lobby’s claims of persecution, that their chosen poison is legal?
If cannabis is illegal, cannabis “accessories” shops would not brazenly sit opposite popular high-street shops. If cannabis is illegal then shops would not be permitted to advertise cannabis – which is exactly what they do when they emblazon products with the green sativa leaf on a black background. Everyone knows what this image represents. If the authorities actually thought cannabis ought be illegal because it is dangerous then they would not permit a cannabis “accessories” shop to have customer parking facilities.
What clear-thinking person would want to walk their children along a street that not only has a cannabis shop but one with a driveway that invites its customers to park there? Is it not conceivable that people who are so enthralled with cannabis will go to a cannabis “accessories” shop to buy a bong pipe with THC (the active ingredient of cannabis) still in their bloodstream?
It is a busy road with a famous supermarket. Parents and their children will use it. Who is to say that a drug-addled maniac will not mow down a child because he impaired his senses with his poisonous peccadillo? It was only by sheer fortune that, in 2010, the singer George Michael did not harm anyone (or damage anything except a wall) when he crashed his Range Rover into a shop-front while under the influence of cannabis.
He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison despite his committing a similar offence in 2007. He served only four weeks of his sentence in prison. A token gesture of a prison sentence if ever there was one. (Or do I mean a toking gesture?)
This is the same George Michael who, in an interview with the Guardian in 2009, said he only smokes seven or eight cannabis spliffs per day instead of twenty-five as he used to. If cannabis were against the law, then the police would use George Michael’s public admission of copious cannabis consumption to get a warrant to impound his cannabis stash.
The cannabis legalisers pretend that cannabis is a recreational drug that can be used responsibly. It cannot. Whether you smoke one cannabis spliff or eight or twenty-five in a day, I would not want you behind the wheel of a mighty Range Rover. Or even a Mini Cooper, for that matter.
Why, when we are walking down the high-street, do we not see burglary accessories shops, murder accessories shops or rape accessories shops? Because these crimes are plainly illegal and we would not tolerate shops that accessorised nor facilitate these crimes. We would be repelled and abhorred that a commercial enterprise could legally promote these crimes.
If cannabis use were illegal we would similarly not permit and tolerate the establishment of cannabis shops on our streets.
The most illuminating thing about my suburban Skunk Shop is not what it sells but what it is called. Skunk. The cannabis lobby like to argue that it is more dangerous to criminalise cannabis than to decriminalise it.
It is a silly argument but one that returns time and again to these debates: If the cannabis were legalised, the content of cannabis could be standardised and there will be no more bad skunk on the market. It is skunk which is dangerous and gives cannabis a bad name, they say. (The cannabis lobby are forced into this concession because of the ever-strengthening evidence that cannabis, particularly the “skunk” variations that contain greater concentrations of THC, causes psychosis).
If the cannabis lobby really were serious about disambiguating cannabis from “skunk”, then why is the Skunk Shop called the Skunk Shop? I know one man’s shop’s name does not represent an entire army of dope lobbyists, but I think it is significant. I expect many dope lobbyists do not care for the niceties of distinguishing cannabis from skunk.
The cannabis lobby will use any technique or trickery to get their beloved weed legalised. This is why they attempt to bedazzle us with scientific claims that cannabis is medicinal or, if not, just a harmless bit of fun. They lie that evil drug dealers sell dangerous skunk and this danger could be combated with regulated, standardised cannabis.
I suspect that, even if cannabis were totally legalised – to the extent that it is available in shops – many dope-smokers would get their “softer” weekday cannabis from the newsagent and their stronger Sunday-best skunk from a drug dealer (the very drug dealers who would supposedly go out of business because of legalisation). Users habituate to drugs and need ever-stronger formulae to achieve the effects they desire. For many cannabis smokers the transition to skunk is inevitable.
And when cannabis is totally legalised, there will soon be a Skunk Shop coming to pollute a suburban town near you.