8 May 2008


The decision to reclassify cannabis is utterly cretinous. It won't stop anyone smoking it, and it won't deal with the problem of kids becoming psychotic from getting stoned too much.

The reason more of them are getting wasted today than 20 years ago (even though overall cannabis consumption seems to have gone down) is that the dope is stronger. The skunk that has being doing the rounds the past seven or eight years – probably longer, my memory is shot to hell – bears the same relationship to the red Leb or even the Afghan black of the 1970s as whisky does to beer.

But why is the dope stronger? Er, skunk's dominance of the market is the result of clamping down on smuggling of milder cannabis resins from warmer climes. Raising ultra-strong homegrown under lights in a cellar or a loft or a business unit in Stoke-on-Trent is a lot less risky than coming into Los Angeles bringing in a couple of keys. And it takes a bit more work and money to extract the resin than it does to dry out the plants.

The answer is to legalise the lot, make them all available in premises licensed to sell them – they don't have to be licensed for consumption – and make sure the taxation system dissuades the punters from the strong stuff. You could even introduce tax breaks or an appellation d’origine contrôlée system for producers who maintain traditional techniques for making classic hash. Just about anything would be better than threatening people who use Britain's fourth-most-favoured recreational drug – after caffeine, alcohol and nicotine – with tough policing and serious gaol sentences.

And, like, man – the working class smokes too these days. It isn't the dog-whistle to "Labour's natural supporters" that it probably was in 1967.

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