By Greg de Hoedt
THE CHARITY Crimestoppers have today launched a new campaign targeting cannabis growers. Information packs have been posted out to households in 13 regions of the UK in an attempt to educate the public to spot signs of someone growing cannabis.
The charity said there was a 15% rise in the number of cannabis farms found in homes between 2011 and 2012. This is likely due to the number of people growing their own supply instead of relying on the unstable and untrustworthy black market where the price is high and the quality is low.
Patients who use cannabis as a medicine are more likely to grow their own or get it from someone that grows rather than use the black market. This is hardly funding organised crime – it is the complete opposite and removes funds that would be going towards them.
Via Twitter @CrimeStoppers were asked how they would feel if their campaign got an MS patient arrested and prosecuted and they replied “We are a non judgemental charity. We simply support law enforcement & enable people to give info about crime” Yet they fail to see they are pushing information leaflets teaching people to be judgemental, prejudice and obedient to the administration under false pretences- the only victim there is if a patient is caught in the cross fire is the patient.
Andy Bliss, from ACPO, said: “Many people don’t realise that the empty, run-down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm.
“It’s not just the stereotype of the remote rural set or disused industrial estate unit.
“These farms are often run by organised criminals [and] they bring crime and anti-social behaviour into local communities causing real harm and leaving people feeling unsafe.”
While we can all agree that no one wants organised crime on their street there is a much better alternative – and that’s to just let people grow their own or allow the regulated sale of it through authorised outlets like we do with currently legally available (and more harmful) drugs like alcohol and tobacco. Law Enforcement Against Prohibion UK are opposed to the continuation of “the war on drugs” which is certainly just a war on some peopl that use some drugs. They argue that prohibition actually increases crime.
The reason gangs grow cannabis is because they want to turn over lots of money quickly. In as little time as 8 weeks a house could be fully grown out and bring in £200,000 with very little investment. This money can then be used to import harder drugs, firearms dealing and people trafficking among many other very criminal and antisocial offenses.
The only reason the gangs can make so much money on this is because it is illegal to grow and sell under prohibition. It is only people that are willing to take the risk that are going to grow it on a commercial scale and for that risk they expect and demand a high price. The market for cannabis isn’t going anywhere and more and more consumers are becoming aware of the legal changes in America where 18 States have legalised Medical Marijuana while Colorado and Washington have legalised to grow and sell for 21 and over. Even the Dutch Weed Pass was crushed allowing tourists to continue to use the coffee shops as freely as they have always been.
Even further to consider is that the continued enforcement of prohibition is the reason commercial cannabis farms are being pushed into residential areas, like squeezing a balloon filled with water – it just moves to somewhere else. The sooner it is realised and accepted that people using cannabis is not a problem and is in fact very normal the sooner we can see the back of these criminal organisations that are only given a foot up in the criminal world because it is so easy to make money from cannabis.
Astonishingly one of the areas to be targeted with the Scratch & Sniff cards is Kent where you can find the world’s largest legal cannabis factory – licensed by the Home Office since 1998 which is producing 300 tonnes every year.
“If anyone tells you there’s a shortage of it – they’re lying” – GW Pharmaceuticals Chairman, Geoffrey Guy at Patients Out Of Time Conference, Portland, USA 2002
Will the police be getting a series of phone calls reporting Porton Down Science Park, Sittingbourne for having a large commercial cannabis grow that has been pumping out a street value of £72m per year?
Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
Maybe makes you wonder if not everyone growing cannabis commercially is part of organised crime – or at least the true definition of it. Many people have turned to cannabis growing to help keep their families off the streets, a roof over their head, clothes on their back and food in their bellies. This money may be earned untaxed but the items that it is all spent on goes back into the economy. When more than 50% of Britain paid for Christmas on a credit card this year these daring entrepreneurs paid cash – are they criminals or are the Government stupid for leaving a whole industry untaxed whilst helping organised crime and still criminalising otherwise law abiding citizens?
Historically, if you look at declines in the economy they are matched with an increase of black market trading and in particular drugs. As cannabis is such an easy plant to grow, in times of Austerity is it not wise for someone to become self sufficient? Where’s the crime in saving 90% of the money you would have been giving to, apparently just organised crime. The European Commission have just published a study showing that these trends are true to today’s economic downturn.
If Crime Stoppers really want to stop-crime related to cannabis then they are going completely the wrong way about it. This campaign is only going to make a lot of people criminals for “committing” “crimes” that are happening already without anyone coming to harm or even knowing that it is taking place. This campaign is more likely to raise crime figures and will give the police a justification to not have more cuts to their already tight budget.
As for the cost of the campaign in product development, design, distribution and publicity…you would think that there were more serious crimes being carried out that needed public focus, and ones that more members of the public actually come to trouble because of. How to catch a Banker perhaps? That won’t help the police keep their budget though – catching peaceful and non violent cannabis consumers is a fair bit easier…
This afternoon more details emerged from Crimestoppers about the campaign in response to some of the questions and messages they received throughout the course for the launch day. Found on their Facebook page they posted;
- “We are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act
- This campaign is funded by law enforcement agencies – various police forces across the UK
- We are a charity that supports law enforcement – as long as cannabis is illegal, we will help agencies to enforce the law. Please do not ask us to support the legalisation of cannabis – we are not a lobbying organisation. If you wish to express your opinion on the legalisation of cannabis (either way), you are free to petition the government. Our position on this will not change (unless the law changes).
- We are not targeting individual users or growers for personal use. We are aware that cannabis is used medicinally by MS sufferers (among others). We are sorry, we do not wish you to suffer. Our aim is to target large scale cannabis operations, not personal users. Law enforcement priority are large scale operations because they often employ trafficked individuals.
So if you are a patient and you get your door kicked down just remember, Crimestoppers are sorry and they do not wish you to suffer.