Back in the early 70`s, the hippo almost recalls conversations conducted through shoulder length hair and a haze of smoke regarding the relative merits of something called black leb and something called grass.
Unusually passive debates centred on which album cover was the best to skin up on, and whether Dark Side of the Moon or Tubular Bells best indicated the meaning of life. All that was irreversibly changed when Roxy Music put style and fashion before music which resulted in the likes of Girls Aloud, any boy band you can think of and the embarrassing spectacle of a couple of attention seeking retards called Jedward.
Since those purple hazy days, the use of recreational pharmaceuticals by young people has increased. But the subtle difference between enhancement and dependence indicates how youth culture has changed. In a society that rewards the corrupt, elevates the inept and implacably criticises young people, who can blame “the youth” from taking a toke of the antidote.
In the late 90`s, we had an American president who once played sax in a rock band and a British prime minister who once played guitar in another rock band. Both have said they that they had smoked dope, with Clinton famously saying he did not inhale. Liberal lawyer Obama cannot have been unaware of drug use in the south side of Chicago and Gordon Brown must know that Edinburgh is crack central in Scotland.
Here in Walsall, we know that drug abuse is a very bad thing and that the dealers in death have to be punished with the full force of the law. The number of cannabis factories discovered by our ever vigilant police suggests that drug production is now a commercial, rather than subversive, enterprise. So it is now vital that predatory drug entrepreneurs are brought before the courts and imprisoned for the sake of our children.
As a very old joke says:
What`s the difference between a drug dealer and a Rolls Royce?
You never see a Rolls Royce at the gates of a Walsall school.
This week has seen the discovery of two industrial strength cannabis factories in Walsall, one in an empty warehouse, the other in a former youth centre. It turns out that the warehouse is joint owned by a Walsall councillor and the youth centre had received funding from the Paddock and Pheasey Local Neighbourhood Partnership with the support of two other Walsall councillors. It is important to point out that the councillors are in no way connected to the illegal cultivation of cannabis and that their reputations are beyond repute.
However, the words “land” and “lord” when conjoined does suggest a certain level of responsibility and for Councillor Mohammed Arif to call for a change in the law to protect innocent landlords from the criminal activities of the guys from Hanoi smacks of stable doors closing.
The Street Star Academy in Pool Street, which the local youth have never heard of, suffered a terrible and convenient flood because of a burst water main and seems to have closed. The prospect of adequate irrigation and secrecy has proved to be irresistible to the growers of the devils weed. Councillor Barry Sanders, recently resigned from cabinet, and Councillor Zahid Ali, about to get his licence back after a drink driving conviction, may have to think again about where they put our money.
As Bob Dylan said:
“Everybody must get stoned.”