Is the Skunk industry and consumption beneficial to the white power structure?
The timing of the rise of the Skunk industry and mass consumption is interesting. It has become predominant at exactly the same time Black and Asian and working class communities radical and grassroots organisations and movement subsided and were defeated. The multifaceted offensive against us since the early 1990s, including Skunk, has meant not only have we not recovered and re-developed our struggle to face the worse socio-economic and cultural and moral situation that we are facing, but we have continued to be pushed down as oppressed peoples. The British white power structure is no doubt greatly relieved that we did not develop any effective resistance organisations after the militant struggles, the last of which was the mass campaign of resistance against police brutality and white supremacist attacks around the Justice for Stephen Lawrence Campaign. Is Skunk a central part of our own cointelpro, the USA government covert plan to keep potentially rebellious communities divided, weak and depressed?
There is a long history of how the ruling classes in Britain and across the west have used different drugs and drug mafias to contain and oppress working class and Black communities within the ‘west’ and across the world. These are issues and histories seldom discussed by us, but they pertain to imperialist oppression abroad and how it directly has a fall out in working class communities on this island.
A sister talked/tweeted about how habitual and prolonged Skunk consumption had resulted in her actual sister having schizophrenia. The fact is that all of us know someone who has become paranoid to some extent, paranoid delusional or developed schizophrenia with different drugs but very much Skunk being a clear contributory factor in this.
We are talking about our peers, often our close friends and loved ones having serious mental health problems that can and do result in these people being sectioned and suicide is not tragically unheard of.
Skunk production on this island, or the spread of ‘home-grown’ industry has rocketed in the last decade or so. For poor working class people setting up a Skunk factory is a commercial venture not far from their means and the returns are lucrative. What this does is criminalise vast new swathes of our people, and also bring develop a criminal mafia in our communities, as most of the production is done by larger organised crime outfits. And a related major issue is that because Skunk/weed possession is so high amongst our youth, they tend to be easy prey for police harassment.
How do our youth manage to afford to spend so much on Skunk? For a reasonably strong single cigarette or ‘spliff’ of Skunk mixed usually with tobacco (usually cigarette tobacco, which is full of chemicals, and without the soft filter full of tar), you are looking at easily three or four pounds, with many packing their spliffs a lot more than that thus making the one spliff a lot more expensive. Skunk is highly addictive or at least something which one can become easily dependent on (if you don’t believe me, try and get a regular Skunk smoker to give it up), with the user chasing the highs they first felt when starting Skunk, but that high is unattainable, hence sending the user into a futile race to reach a high they never can achieve.
Many people in our communities argue that the expensive nature of the product and its addictive qualities has meant a general growth in criminal activities amongst our youth who think they have to engage in this criminal life to survive: this has resulted in a noticeable increase in the amount of degree of violence amongst young people and amongst crime amongst our youth. Often our working class youth are used as peddlers for Skunk and other harder drugs by older drug dealers. Then net result is that the nightmare scenarios of A Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies is a very present reality in our communities where our children are killing each other with no sign of us putting things in order. This is a problem that our communities have been unable to address, although some Irish working class communities have taken independent action to address these issues, with some measures of success which is worth studying and learning and applying the lessons to our conditions.
We have a disastrous situation where generations of our youth have been and are starting to smoke Skunk from pre-teens; they are growing up in an oppressive society often with deteriorating social conditions such as:
- Violent domestic situations caused by overcrowding, unemployment/underemployment;
- They are increasingly alienated by the system while assimilating into some of the worst moral and ethical aspects of the system such as a negative sexualisation of relationships with each other as a result of ‘sex education’ primarily happening through exposure to hard-core porn from pre-teens (this in itself is causing a massive un-addressed crisis amongst our youth);
- Oppression from and failures of the ‘education’ system with bullying and violence rampant throughout our high schools;
- The disappearance of liberation theories used by Latin Americans, Africans and Asians for socialist and anti-imperialist liberation and this being replaced by the growth of crack-pot conspiracy theories like “Beyonce is the reptilian devil head who is spewing out chem trails from her dance moves which resulted in the 911 attacks”, is promoting the danger of paranoid delusions amongst our peers as they drink, smoke, take drugs, are in a state of oppression and often depression and spend many a night watching crack-pot YouTube videos that doesn’t help their mental health;
- White power structure oppression resulting in our youth moving away from positively healing spirituality and ethics of our ancestors, families and communities of the homelands in the Global South.
All these issues along with the violent and paranoid state of mind that Skunk and mass use of cocaine and other drugs amongst our youth needs some serious debate and reflection.
Skunk is not the cause of problems that our communities are faced with, it is just one aspect of a multi-dimensional challenge of identifying oppressions in order to resist and overcome them. The reason I suppose I have honed in on Skunk consumption and industry is because it has become nearly an untouchable issue, it seems to be beyond criticism. People who I can visibly see are suffering as a result of Skunk use keep telling you that it is not a problem at all. Perhaps this is a reflection itself of the way Skunk addiction has informed the taboo nature of the topic? Whatever the case might be, this article would is intended in sparking (excuse the pun) a reasoned and mutually respectful public debate amongst ourselves.
Sukant Chandan in a London-based community organiser and anti-imperialist, and edits the Sons of Malcolm blog. This article is a abbreviated version, the full version can be found at Sons of Malcolm.
Have we been led to believe that skunk is more dangerous than it is?
For thousands of years, human cultures from all around the world have used the Cannabis plant in various different forms.
From around 3000 BC, regions of East and South Asia were using cannabis as a treatment for pain, malaria, and constipation. It’s also been used by ancient Arab, Central American and African civilisations for millennia. Cannabis has since been known to help cure anxiety, depression, inflammation, chronic pain syndrome, and insomnia. Even Queen Victoria was famously known to have used it to ease her menstrual pains.
Cannabis has become more closely entwined with human history than any other plant. And yet today, suddenly our opinions have changed, since the last century or so we started to see one of the world’s oldest and most versatile medicines as an evil that can cause some serious harm to our health. We use plant extracts for many other various remedies, so why not Cannabis?
Of course, cannabis has not always been used for medicinal purposes. Often throughout history, people have used it for its recreational benefits, tribes and communities throughout the centuries have been known to use the plant as a means of heightening spirituality and being aware of their place in nature. Yet during all these thousands of years of its use, we still have no solid evidence showing that cannabis ever made people violent or led to schizophrenia or any other kind of mental illness.
So what is makes Cannabis so special?
When the female cannabis plant is not pollinated by a male plant, it produces buds which consist of both the THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol Cannabidiol) and the CBD (Cannabidiol) molecule. Coincidentally, unlike any other plant we use, these molecules are almost chemically identical to molecules produced naturally by our bodies, particularly Anandamide.
That is the reason why cannabis can be detected in humans months after consumed, the body doesn’t particularly want to get rid of it since it doesn’t recognise THC as a foreign chemical. When THC interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the human brain, it increases the activity of neurotransmitters which cause our thoughts, imagination, and perception to magnify itself. This is probably the reason why many of the great artists of our time and before have claimed that they have used cannabis as a way of tuning into a more creative state of mind.
As with all plants, cross-pollination and cross breeding has led to various different strains of cannabis. Whilst each strain consists of different concentrations of THC and CBD, thus having different effects and properties, they all react with our cannabinoid receptors in the same basic way.
Over the last two decades, one particular strain of cannabis known as Skunk has become very popular in the UK due to it being higher in THC. Skunk is merely another strain of the cannabis plant. It’s grown in the same way and it interacts with our cannabinoid receptors via the same mechanism, the only thing that differentiates it from other strains is its higher THC levels. Gradually it became so popular that the term ‘skunk’ was often used to refer to cannabis in general, but recently anti-cannabis campaigners have associated the term ‘skunk’ with fear and mental illnesses
Often, those who oppose the use of cannabis claim that skunk is more dangerous due to its higher potency. It’s true that increased THC levels would naturally have a greater effect, but does this necessarily mean that it’s more dangerous? Wine is far more alcoholic than beer, but that does not necessarily mean that wine drinkers get drunk.
In many cases, the wine drinker tends to drink far less, and more responsibly than the beer drinker, since they’re aware that it’s stronger. The same can be said when comparing skunk to other strains of cannabis.
With no concrete evidence to show that skunk has any negative effects on an individual’s behaviour, how is it that so many people have been convinced that it does?
Those who oppose cannabis sometimes tend to manipulate statistics and terms to suit their agenda. For example, they might pick out one person with a mental illness who happened to smoke skunk, and blame the skunk for their illness, yet fail to take into account the millions of people who smoke skunk regularly and don’t have any mental conditions.
In recent history we have seen numerous examples of governmental scaremongering propaganda against cannabis. In the 20s-30s, they told us that cannabis made white women promiscuous with black men. In the 60s-70’s they used propaganda movies such as “Reefer Madness” to tell us it makes you extremely violent and murderous.
After constantly being proven wrong, they now tell us without evidence that it kills brain cells and causes psychosis. However mainstream media and the government seems to supress the fact that alcohol-related psychosis is a secondary psychosis with a predominant occurrence of hallucinations, as The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has found “Alcohol is a neurotoxin that affects the brain in a complex manner through prolonged exposure and repeated withdrawal, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality”.
It’s worth noting that cannabis is one of the few medicines that giant pharmaceutical corporations wouldn’t make much money from if it were legal because cannabis is used in its natural form, and since you can’t patent a plant everyone would simply grow their own.
What are your thoughts?
Contribute to the debate via Twitter on @iamhiphopmag1 using the hashtag #Iahhdebates