The State has taken over the production and distribution of the plant, which sounds like a very good idea...
id-afternoon at the Picnic and BP is hanging out at the side-flap of the Leviathan tent, no hint of a hindrance to anybody, smoking a contemplative joint. And here’s what he tells me happens next.
But first - here’s how it was back in historical times.
Hot Press benefit at Punchestown, 1980s or so, Thin Lizzy, the Undertones (the Derry band’s last gig with Feargal, if memory serves). Beep, master of ceremonies, scurries afluster on-stage with a warning that two guys prowling the crowd in “West Belfast” t-shirts are in fact drug-squad snoopers on the hunt for innocent users of the harmless weed. The Beep appeals to the best instincts of the audience – spread the word if you see these no-marks coming your way.
He ends with a poetical flourish: “Fuck you, copper!”
Key roars of approval and civic-minded fans looking hither and yon for evidence of the evil interlopers.
That was then. Now the guy in the t-shirt has “security” inscribed on the back and introduces himself with a snarl. “Is that a joint you are smoking?” The genial Beep allows that, indeed, this is so.
So the guy in the t-shirt makes a grab and snatches the spliff and gathers his face into a scowl of aggression: “Turn out your pockets!”
Cut a long and dispiriting story short: the outcome is the nearest thing we have to an aristocrat of rock having his pockets picked over in broad daylight. No contraband is discovered.
At one point, responding to the remonstrations of people with a bit of cop-on and a sense of priorities, the security man with the attitude roars: “There is a policy of zero tolerance towards drugs here”.
Is there now? And who has devised this policy and who ordered its enforcement?
Within the octave of the Picnic, Mason Tvert, author of “Marijuana is Safer: So why are we driving people to drink?”, told Ms. Joanne Hunt of the Irish Times that the reason Colorado voted to legalise marijuana last November was that, “The penny has dropped that marijuana is less toxic, less addictive and less harmful for the body than alcohol and there is a great deal of evidence that alcohol contributes to violent behaviour and recklessness.”
Nothing new there, except that the argument is made without contradiction in a conservative ‘paper with a reputation for po-headed stolidity and mistrust of the new.
In the same week, Uruguay, hitherto known to us only as the birthplace of celebrity racist Luis Suarez, passed a law legalising marijuana, establishing State control of production and distribution and fixing the retail price at $2.50 a gram. (Not bad…not bad at all.)
And the medical journal The Lancet reported on the latest global statistics confirming that exactly the same number of people died from marijuana use last year as had died in the previous year - to wit, none.
And yet as inoffensive a person as BP Fallon cannot smoke a joint at a music festival without some bruiser barging in and banging on about “zero tolerance towards drugs”.
It behoves us all to voice protest against such outrage, both in the public prints and directly when we can to gig and festival organisers.
Ireland should take a cannabis leaf out of Uruguay’s book.
I see that an evangelical preacher is to stand trial in Massachusetts for crimes against humanity.
Scott Lively is accused of violating international law by inciting persecution of LGBT individuals in Uganda. Lively has admitted a “lecture tour” of the country “exposing the homosexual agenda” - all gays and lesbians having “genocidal tendencies”.
Lively sat with government officials drafting a “Kill the Gays” bill, passed by parliament in December 2012. Speaker Rebecca Kadaga described it as a “Christmas gift to all Christians”.
The sequence of events gives the lie to claims that extreme homophobia in some African countries is rooted in ancient, backward, tribal beliefs. In fact, for the most part, it is a colonial import.
The same point has been well made by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu who last month told the launch meeting in Cape Town of a gay rights campaign that, “I’d rather go to hell than to a homophobic heaven.”
If you are determined to believe in heaven and hell, that’s the best context for the belief I have encountered this week.
Missed The Braids at the Picnic. Reasons beyond my control. But the cool Quebekkers will soon be back. Workman’s Club, Dublin, December 7th. Mark the date down. In the meantime, listen to the wondrous ‘Native Speaker’. Seriously brilliant.
I am told that that some delicate Leinster House-plant has been lamenting Ming Flanagan’s “outrageous” behaviour. Bit of disagreement over protocol in a corridor, it seems.
Now Ming may have made a bit of an arse of himself from time to time, but compared with old-time aficionados of outrage, he’s a goody two-shoes kind of guy. Here’s future Fine Gael leader James Dillon recalling the arrival of Fianna Fail in the Dail after winning the 1932 general election: “A very considerable number arrived…armed to the teeth. They thought there was going to be a putsch, that Mr. Cosgrave wouldn’t hand over government. So they were swaggering around the place with revolvers bulging out of their pockets. One old gentleman was assembling a machine-gun in a telephone booth.”
Now there’s the standard to aim at, Ming.
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