Bingo balls with the word 'GANJA'.

Bingo balls with the word 'GANJA'.

By Chris Bovey

Police are rather pleased with themselves for finding a substantial cannabis grow in the Northamptonshire town of Kettering.

According to media reports, police found 2,000 cannabis plants at a disused Gala Bingo Hall that were three weeks away from harvest. The official valuation is £2.8 million, although you can take that with a pinch of salt, if not shovel full, since police valuations of drug confiscations tend to be hyperbolic.

PC Colin Gray has been in the limelight with his 15 minutes of fame, quoted in several mainstream media sources saying: “It is one of the largest I have seen even when compared to a site we found in Corby earlier this year.”

So not even a bingo hall with 2,000 cannabis plants in it is not the largest cannabis grow a lowly Police Constable from a town in the Midlands with a population of 94,475 has ever seen.

He should be given a guided tour of the Tory Party 18-hectare cannabis grow in Norfolk headed by the husband of prohibitionist Tory Drugs Minister, which is grown for GW Pharmaceuticals that Theresa May’s husband’s investment company has a 22% share in. That is what a kick-ass weed grow looks like.

PC Colin Gray goes on to say: “This is a significant find that will disrupt organised crime groups and the distribution of cannabis locally and further afield.”

So, nobody is going to be smoking weed in Kettering anymore? I doubt it, the fact the criminal gang behind this was so audacious as to set it up in a disused bingo hall in Kettering town centre’s High Street, suggests there are probably many more similar grows throughout the UK.

No arrests made

If media reports are to be believed, it was only discovered because some locals noticed the smell, so perhaps the numpties behind this kind of industrial size grow might invest in some carbon filter extraction units that would negate the smell and thus likely prevent them from getting detected in the first place.

Except they didn’t get caught, the police said: “No one was in the plant at the time officers raided, and no arrests have been made.”

Photo of Kettering Bingo Hall cannabis farm.

Kettering police have been destroying harmless plants, but unable to catch the florists who grew them.

So, they closed down the cannabis grow, but have no idea who was behind it and made no arrests. No doubt whoever was behind it will be pretty pissed off at having their lovely grow taken down, but they’ll be more relieved they didn’t get caught and they are no doubt still making a fortune from other similar huge indoor gardens the police haven’t been able to locate.

More of the same

PC Gray went on to say: “These crime groups blight society by manufacturing and selling controlled drugs in Northamptonshire,

“We will never stop trying to bring them down and this type of activity will continue.”

I have never denied there are some nasty elements involved in the production and supply of cannabis in the UK involving organised crime. That’s a product of prohibition and given it hasn’t worked in the last 100 years, Occam’s Razor suggests it will continue to be an expensive failure.

PC Gray only puts forward arguments for legalising, taxing and regulating the sale and production of cannabis in the UK. He can pontificate as much as he likes about blights on society, it does not change the famous quote, often wrongly attributed to Albert Einstein

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

I’ve only been to Kettering once in my life, it’s a rather quaint historic town about 70 miles north of London. Perhaps they have no crime in Kettering and the police have nothing better to do other than to go after cannabis, even after nine years of Tory austerity cuts to their budget.

Knife crime in Kettering

Hoodie with a knife

Plants are a priority over knife crime for Kettering Police.

Alas, not, a quick Google search for knife crime in Kettering yielded this sad story about Gill Veysey, a mother who lost her son to a fatal stabbing in the town, expressing her concern about a recent spate of knife attacks in Kettering.

Ms Veysey said the attacks left her incredibly sad, telling the Northamptonshire Telegraph “It’s heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching. You just get this pain and think “oh no” because you immediately think of their family.

I know how knife crime can have devastating effects on a family, one of my former employee’s uncle was stabbed to death a few years ago, there are no words to describe the impact it had on him and his family.

Regrettably, the police will have fewer resources to fight knife crime in Kettering thanks to this bust, as many police manhours are to be wasted destroying a harmless plant and all the paperwork that goes with it. I assume more money will be wasted in the attempt to find who was behind big cheeky grow that was slap bang in the middle of the town centre in a disused bingo hall. I doubt they ever will and even if they do, another criminal gang will step in to fill the gap in the market.

War on drugs is lost

The war on some people who use some drugs has been lost. A legal taxed and regulated cannabis market would take the criminal element out of cannabis supply. I’m not suggesting all cannabis growers are bad people, but we do know of organised crime using Vietnamese Slave Children to grow cannabis. An evil that could be put to an end overnight by legalising.

Canada survived cannabis legalisation, as did Uruguay and many US states, not to mention that The Netherlands has some of the highest living standards in the world, despite the fact weed and hash has been legally sold in the nation’s famous coffeeshops since the early 1970s.

We need to urgently rethink our approach as the current one does not work. A legal market for cannabis would not only create jobs and generate billions of much-needed taxation revenue, it would free up police and court resources to go after crimes that actually have a victim, such as knife crime or child pornography.

Chris Bovey, writer and musician.

Chris Bovey is a businessman, writer, artist, musician and practical joker. He lives in Devon with his partner, two children and cat. You can follow him on Facebook or Twitter @ADHD_BadBoy.

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