The Big Debate: Is Skunk Healing or Oppressing our Communities?


Is the Skunk industry and con­sump­tion bene­fi­cial to the white power struc­ture?

Sukant Chandan

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?

Azad Kamall

 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

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