Weeding Out Extremism

Leaving to one side the need to curb the savage marijuana-fuelled glassings in the country’s pubs and clubs and so on, what is it about the properties of marijuana that sends authorities demented?

One explanation often offered is the fact that it is perceived as the drug of those who would represent the greatest threat to the ideology of the ruling class, as enforced by the state. Since this ideology tends to see people as human resources, to be exploited like any other resource in the pursuit of profit, there is something inherently threatening about a human resource allocated inefficiently, i.e. sitting around getting baked and listening to… help me out here, what is it that people listen to these days for such moments?

True, drink and fags might also represent inefficiency, but the state is limited by the facts that many people are heavily addicted to both, both generate massive revenues for the exchequer, and that the abolition of what is, for many people, a means of making wage slavery bearable, would likely result in massive drops in both production and productivity, accompanied by all sorts of subversive behaviour.

My suspicion is that there is a close relationship between decision to reclassify marijuana and other Labour government policy concerns, in particular the influence of ‘extremist’ ideology and processes of ‘radicalisation’. It is not so much that Jacqui Smith thinks bongs will lead to bombs, but that the approaches developed by the British state to tackle ‘extremism’ inform those developed to tackle caners. Consider the ‘crackdown on “head shops” which sell cannabis paraphernalia, including seeds’, and compare with the same government’s guidelines for mosques which should ‘pledge to have programmes that “promote civic responsibility of Muslims in wider society” and that “actively combat all forms of violent extremism within the society at large”’

For all the general nonsense about enlightenment values that wafts around the Labour government, there isn’t much concern for scientific method in the decision to recriminalise:

The ACMD, the government’s own expert body on drugs, decided by 20 votes to three to recommend that cannabis remain a class C drug. Its nine-month review concluded that while more potent, homegrown strains of herbal cannabis, such as skunk, now dominate the British market, the evidence of a substantial link with mental illness remains weak.

But even though the ‘evidence of a substantial link with mental illness remains weak’, the Home Secretary has opted ‘to act now rather than risk the future health of young people’. If she had been smoking hash, one would be inclined to conclude that it was making her paranoid. But this approach is reminiscent of other apparently paranoid measures in the area of counter-terrorism (the evidence of the possibility of blowing up a plane with bottles of Tango also remains weak, but that doesn’t affect the draconian measures introduced to address such a possibility). One must also take into account the fact that quite a lot of cannabis products come from countries also known to produce terrorists (Afghanistan, Morocco, Pakistan, Egypt, Lebanon, and so on). In a time where the Prime Minister is emphasising the importance of ‘Britishness’, smoking draw may start falling into a category of anti-British activities.

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