Jeremy Clarke recalls his career on drugs and a failed attempt to grow cannabis in his father's greenhouseby Jeremy Clarke / December 20, 1996 / Leave a comment
The price of illegal drugs in Britain is the highest in Europe. Recent seizures of substantial shipments of cannabis and cocaine by vigilant customs officers are pushing up prices still further. Although many of these seizures have been made on or just off the rocky Cornish peninsular, we in the southwest do not get to see much of it at any price. Occasionally the local television news bulletins tantalise us with footage of familiar, picturesque quays where drugs are being unloaded from impounded yachts. If the arrested yachtsmen’s home addresses are given out, they are more likely to be Hackney or Chorley than Polperro. It is galling for our local hippies that on the rare occasions they can afford to buy imported cannabis resin, they have to go all the way to London for it.
While this year’s harvest of locally grown marijuana is safely gathered in, business is steadily improving for my friend Terry, a small but reputable drug dealer. Such was the dearth of illegal substances in the west country earlier in the year, Terry had to turn some of his best customers away empty handed and his reputation suffered as a result. He blames the erratic nature of his supply on a lack of enterprise by Cornish youth. “With a coastline like ours, and the cutbacks in the customs service, I can’t understand why drugs get so scarce down here,” he says indignantly. He started smoking dope in the 1950s during the Malayan emergency, in which he was serving as an infantryman. He often likes to reminisce about some of the once common, now fabled brands of cannabis resin that were easily procurable in Britain during the 1960s-Red Leb, Moroccan Gold and the brain-curdling Paki Black. “Look at this rubbish,” he says disgustedly, rapping a hard light brown square of obviously inferior quality cannabis. “Eighty quid an ounce! I’ve forgotten the last time I had a really decent smoke!” But Terry does concede that the home grown marijuana hybrids lately developed in Holland, called “skunk,” are positive signs. To demonstrate for me the effects of smoking skunk he pulls his stoned-out-of-his-head face; which if anything suits him better than his normal expression.
Terry was a sort of early shamanic mentor of mine. It was he who showed me how to grow cannabis plants; how to prick out the heads and when to separate the females from the…