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Wednesday, October 11, 2006

No Blow Area

The PSNI made the biggest ever drugs bust in Northern Ireland yesterday when they cracked open a lorry in a Newtownards warehouse and found 3.5 tons of cannabis.

This news is likely to be greeted with dismay among the stoners of the island, which like Britain has been suffering a 'drought' for some months, ever since the UDA decided to cease its dealing operations.

In fact, one local paper recently splashed the headline 'No Blow Area' on their front page while reporting the shortage of cannabis locally and throughout the two islands.

Reports of the bust, in which two men in their thirties were arrested, reveal that the police feared that the dope would be distributed quickly throughout the whole island, and possibly to Britain too, such was its scale.

But what those reports do not indicate is why people want to smoke cannabis despite health risks and illegality, nor why this current drought has come about.

There are a number of interesting factors at play here. The first is Loyalist paramilitary involvement in drug dealing. The recent purging of the UDA's Shoukri brothers from North Belfast, curiously coincided with the onset of this drug drought.

Yet PC Plod from the PSNI refused to be drawn on whether paramilitaries were involved in this particular consignment at today's press conference, or on speculation that the drought itself was caused by the UDA moving out of the drugs business.

To get cannabis into an island like Ireland, you need to export it from somewhere (usually Spain or Holland) and have guys on the ground to distribute it when it arrives. Little comment has been passed on the demise of a series of Dublin criminals in Spain and Holland in recent months. It appears likely that their removal from the scene has drastically reduced the availability of drugs to the Irish market.

So at one stage, we had Dubs in the Costas shipping dope to Egyptian UDA men in the North. And now? Well, judging by Newtownards, someone still wants to import a lot of cannabis to the well established market in Ireland. But who?

Either the UDA, or another paramilitary grouping, have decided to cash in on the drought, or else we have a new paradigm for drug dealing in the North, where entrepreneurial gangsters move in on the trade with violent consequences, such as the Westies once were in Dublin before their untimely demise in Spain.

In which case, how long before other gangs of young, gun-toting psychos decide to fill the gap left behind by the paramilitaries in the North? Having put the Troubles in the past for now, is Northern Ireland set for a Dublin-style wave of gangland activity?

The final point is the most obvious of all. A lot of people clearly want to smoke cannabis and are even prepared to break the law to do so. Why? Because they do not respect that law.

There is already plenty of debate elsewhere about the prohibition of cannabis, its rights and wrongs, and of the pros and cons of cannabis from a health perspective. But it would seem to me that one way to eradicate the possibility of a Belfast gangland developing, never mind the financial benefit, is to legalise the cannabis market now.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The law is an ass!