British police this week reportedly uncovered thousands of cannabis plants in an abandoned tire factory in what is being called one of the largest weed busts in the area.
The British newspaper The Independent reported that law enforcement in the otherwise sleepy Lincolnshire village “busted one of their largest ever cannabis factories after discovering 6,000 plants inside an old tyre factory – believed to be worth around £6.5 million.”
“This is one of the largest cannabis grows we have located in Lincolnshire to date and follows the excellent development of intelligence,” said detective inspector Richard Nethercott, as quoted by the Lincolnshire World.
“Cannabis production is far from being harmless: it is often linked to wider, organised criminality which is why tackling the wider issue of drug supply is one of our key priorities. Lincolnshire Police remains determined to crack down on criminal enterprises and remove drugs from circulation.”
According to the BBC, three men “aged 28, 38, and 42, all of no fixed address, were taken into custody following the raid,” and the plants were “removed and destroyed.”
The raid “took place at the property situated behind a countryside village pub at around 8am on Tuesday,” according to The Independent, which said that the property was the location of “the Old Kings Head Tyre Factory in Hubberts Bridge, near Boston.”
While the raid may have been remarkable for Lincolnshire, it falls under a familiar story genre here at High Times, which has chronicled some of the more peculiar cannabis busts from across the pond.
In 2019, we told you about the 120-year-old Victorian style theater in London that was the site of a $51 million marijuana grow operation.
Authorities there surmised that the grow site had been operational for roughly a decade in the bowels of the old Broadway Theater, which was built in 1897.
A spokesperson for the London police said that “officers were called to an address following reports of a disturbance.”
“They discovered a large number of cannabis plants along with equipment used in the cultivation of cannabis in an area beneath the residential properties. Three men, aged 28, 45, and 47, and a 36-year-old woman have been arrested on suspicion of the cultivation of cannabis. They have all been released under investigation,” the spokesperson said at the time.
Police at the time responded to reports of a pungent cannabis odor in the area.
“This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity,” Andy Spooner, the London detective overseeing the investigation, said at the time. “However, this demonstrates that City of London Police continues to actively police the Square Mile, bearing down on any crime committed here.”
And last year, the English village of West Parley provided yet another example after locals there discovered a half-dozen suspicious plants growing in a community garden.
The marijuana plants were tough to miss, with one local remarking at the time that they were “towering above the bedding plants.”
Whether you’re a local or a tourist, knowing the right places to go out is a must. The difference between a good club and a bad one is the difference between an enjoyable night and a night to forget. That is why you need a succinct list that can do the work for you. London is teeming with electric nightlife opportunities and, if you know where to go, you may well have the best evening of your life.
In this article we’re going to go list the 5 best clubs in London and explain just why they’ve made this list. As a Londoner, I myself have gone to each and every one of these and can vouch for their excellence. So, without further ado, welcome to the capital of England.
Whilst there are many cities in the world with incredible nightlife – Las Vegas, Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona, Ibiza to name a few – London holds its own in the competition. This city is known for having some of the best nightlife in the world for several reasons. One of the main reasons is the city’s diversity. There are over 300 different languages spoken every day, with 1 out of every 3 Londoners being born abroad.
The city is a melting pot of cultures, which means that there is a wide variety of clubs and bars to choose from, each with its own unique atmosphere and music. Every type of musical genre is covered, and every demographic is catered for. However you identify – sexuality, gender, race or age – there should be something for you in London. This brings us to our next point.
Another reason for London’s incredible nightlife is the city’s large population. With a population of over 8 million people, there is always a high demand. This has led to the development of a thriving club and bar scene, with new venues opening up all the time. This also attracts some of the best DJ’s and musicians in London to these locations, such as Berlin techno artists.
London is also known for its strict licensing laws, which require clubs and bars to close at a certain time. This has led to the development of late-night clubs that are open until the early hours of the morning, catering to those who want to party all night long. So, let’s bring back the energy of the 90s rave scene and find out the best clubs in London in 2023 to party at.
London: 5 Best Clubs
Whether you’re someone who wants something chill or something hard, London caters to all. Maybe you like pop music, jazz, cuban, or even just the repetitive sounds of techno, anything is possible in the big city. There are countless clubs and bars to choose from, making it difficult to narrow down the best options. I have done my fair share of clubbing over the years and I’ve had nights to remember and nights to forget. But are the 5 clubs in London that will surely create a memorable evening.
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1 – Fabric
It is hard to speak about London nightlife without mentioning Fabric. This place has closed and reopened many times but, as it stands, this iconic spot has its doors wide open. Located in the heart of London, Fabric is a club that is known for its electronic dance music (EDM) scene. The club has a winding design, with corridors seeming to lead to nowhere. But actually, this is to avoid having any corners to hide and do drugs behind – they are very strict on this in Fabric. Although, of course, everyone still does it.
There are three main rooms, each with its own unique sound system and atmosphere. The main room is known for its techno and house music, while the second room features drum and bass and the third room is known for its grime and hip-hop. Fabric also has a mezzanine level where you can take a break from dancing and get a drink.
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The club is open until 6am on Friday and Saturday nights, making it the perfect place to party all night long. For me, Fabric was a coming of age place, somewhere that you had to go to in order to truly become a young adult. The night was magical – a pinger, some hard EDM and a lot of hugs with my friends – it was one I knew I’d never forget. Whilst Fabric is intense, it’s a place you need to go at least once in your life.
2 – Fold
If you’re looking for relentless, meditative techno all night and all day then Fold is the place for you. You’ll go into a trance that you may never wake up from. Located in hipster East London, Fold is hosted in an old warehouse on the river. It isn’t the nicest looking building, but if you’re used to the Berlin techno scene then you’ll feel right at home. There’s the usual Fold events, which happen on weekend evenings, and then there’s UnFold, which is a day event on a Sunday.
This is for those who want to keep going. This club is full of tech-heads, many people wearing crazy outfits and chokers. As I said previously, it’s the usual techno aesthetic that you may see at the Berghain in Berlin. When I first went to Fold I was a little skeptical, unsure if I could realistically listen to repetitive techno all night long. But one of the best DJs in Berlin was playing – Patrick Mason – and his performance was something of legend. The music lulled me to another world – I will never forget that night. Since then, I’ve loved Fold and everything it stands for.
3 – XOYO
If you’re looking for something a little more colorful and vibrant, XOYO may be the perfect place for you. This club is less specific, and plays a vast range of music, making it open to anyone and everyone. XOYO is located in the heart of Shoreditch and is known for its eclectic mix of music. The club has two rooms, one featuring house and techno music and the other featuring live performances from up-and-coming artists. XOYO is open until 4am on Friday and Saturday nights, making it a great place to go if you want to party but don’t want to stay out all night. It’s also right next to Old Street, making it a very easy place to access. Shoreditch is full of bars and fun things to do too, so you can easily have pre drinks before heading to OXYO.
4 – Dalston Jazz Bar
If you’re looking for something a little more quaint, small and intimate, then the legendary Dalston Jazz Bar is ideal. Situated in another hipster spot in East London, this place is a delicious restaurant in the day, and a live Jazz venue in the evening. The tables get moved away, the kitchens close, the musicians come out, and the cocktails get made. If you’ve never seen live Jazz music in London then there aren’t many better places than this. In addition, the dancing is incredible. Whilst this place is a lot smaller and less known than the others, it deserves its place on this list. It has more soul and character than perhaps all of the others combined. You must go.
5 – Printworks
Opening in 2017, Printworks is the best up and coming venue in London right now. Located in the former printing press building in Canada Water, Printworks is a club that is known for its immersive and innovative events. The club has five main rooms, each featuring a different genre of music. The main room is known for its techno and house music, while the second room features drum and bass, and the third room is known for its grime and hip-hop.
The fourth and fifth rooms are used for special events and live performances. Printworks is open until 6am on Friday and Saturday nights, so definitely caters for those who like long nights. The most eye-catching thing about this venue is the main room. It’s a massive hallway, several stories high, that sort of looks like a prison. Printworks is also attracting some of the best DJs in the world. If you’re wanting to lose yourself then this is the place.
It’s not easy to choose but, overall, these five clubs are some of the best places to party in London. There is something for everyone on this list. If you are planning a night out in London, be sure to check out one of these clubs for an unforgettable party experience. Over the years, I definitely had many in these spots.
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The United Kingdom’s National Crime Agency revealed on Tuesday that a total of nine Americans have been arrested in the span of one week for attempting to smuggle cannabis into the island nation. The law enforcement agency is now investigating to determine if there is a link between the failed attempts to illegally import marijuana from California to the U.K.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) noted that nine individuals, all United States nationals, have been arrested since last week while trying to carry cannabis from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) to London’s Heathrow Airport. All of those arrested have been charged with carrying between 30 and 50 kilograms (about 56 to 110 pounds) of cannabis in their checked baggage.
“We are working to understand how these seizures are connected, however to get this many off the same route in such a short period of time is clearly very unusual,” NCA senior investigation officer Darren Barr said in a statement from the agency.
9 Pot Seizures In One Week
The first seizure was made on Tuesday, January 10, when a passenger arriving at Heathrow from LAX was arrested after the Border Force found about 30 kilos of cannabis in the traveler’s luggage. Three days later, another seizure was made on Friday, followed by an additional two interdictions on Saturday. Cannabis from LAX was seized at Heathrow four more times on Sunday, while the most recent smuggling attempt to be thwarted occurred on Monday, January 16.
In all, about 340 kilograms (nearly 750 pounds) of marijuana were seized in the nine seizures at Heathrow over the week. All nine American nationals arrested have been charged with attempting to import class B drugs into the country and have been remanded into custody pending appearances in court.
Officials estimated the street value of the “herbal cannabis” at more than £5.5 million, or about $6.8 million, although law enforcement agencies have been known to make inflated estimates of the value of seized drugs.
The NCA official warned that the suspects charged in the smuggling cases face steep penalties if they are found guilty. Convictions for importing class B drugs into the U.K. can carry unlimited fines and prison sentences of up to 14 years.
“Drugs couriers face stiff sentences so I’d urge anyone considering getting involved in such ventures to think very carefully about the consequences,” Barr noted. “Alongside partners like Border Force we are determined to do all we can to disrupt the organized crime groups involved in international drug trafficking.”
Steve Dann, the chief operating officer of the Border Force, praised the work of customs officials for their role in preventing the seized cannabis from entering the country.
“Drugs fuel violence and chaos on the streets and inflict suffering in communities across the U.K. Thanks to the work by Border Force, these dangerous drugs were stopped from reaching Britain’s streets and causing significant harm to our neighborhoods,” said Dann. “This seizure demonstrates the successful joint partnership between the Border Force and NCA, as well as our common commitment to keep our communities safe and smash the illegal drugs trade.”
U.K. Cannabis Policy Under Debate
The marijuana seizures at Heathrow Airport come as government officials engage in a renewed debate over cannabis policy in the U.K. In July of last year, then-Home Secretary Priti Patel announced proposed new sanctions on users of cannabis and other drugs that include the confiscation of driver’s licenses and passports under a new three-strikes policy for illicit drug use.
“Drugs are a scourge across society. They devastate lives and tear communities apart,” Patel said in a statement from the government. “Drug misuse puts lives at risk, fuels criminality and serious and violent crime and also results in the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people.”
Under the proposal, which was detailed in a white paper drafted by the Home Office, those caught with illegal recreational drugs would face fines and mandatory drug education. They could also be banned from nightclubs and other entertainment venues.
Three months later, U.K. Home Secretary Suella Braverman revealed that she was considering tightening the classification of cannabis under the nation’s drug laws over concerns that marijuana is a gateway drug and can lead to serious health problems. Braverman’s review followed calls from law enforcement leaders to reclassify cannabis as a Class A drug, the same category assigned to substances including heroin, cocaine, and ecstasy.
But then last month, a group of police chiefs in the United Kingdom announced a plan to effectively decriminalize the possession of drugs including cannabis and cocaine. If adopted by the government, the use and possession of small amounts of recreational drugs would be treated as a public health issue for first-time offenders, rather than a criminal offense subject to prosecution and jail time or other punishment.
The proposals, which were developed by the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the College of Policing, would effectively decriminalize the possession of Class A drugs including cocaine and Class B substances such as marijuana. Under the plan, individuals caught with illegal drugs would be offered an opportunity to attend drug education or treatment programs, rather than being subjected to prosecution.
In 2022, the UK and Boris Johnson’s Conservative party will embark on a new 10 year drug plan that aims to turn ‘harm to hope’. If you still count the United Kingdom as part of Europe – which it geographically is but probably politically isn’t – then you’ll have realized yourself that it is far from the most progressive when it comes to drug policy. Whilst Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Spain seem to be making headlines for their cannabis acceptance, the UK has sat pretty stagnant.
However, with medical cannabis being legalized in 2018 and now a new 10-year drug plan, perhaps things are starting to change. Is this new plan a positive shift to the tide? Or is it a bitter disappointment and return to old-fashioned, tiresome policies?
The UK & Drugs
In 2020, drug-related deaths in the UK reached a record high of 4,561, which was a 3.8% increase of the previous year. It’s believed that 1 in 11 adults in the UK have taken or do currently take drugs. The UK’s approach to drugs would best be described as a ‘criminal justice approach’, which gravitates around the idea that drugs are immoral and the people that buy, use or sell them are – consequently – also immoral.
The government believes that if you crack down on drug users, with serious sentences, that they’ll be deterred from being associated with them. Even the term, ‘war on drugs’, suggests an approach of battle, rather than of understanding and of nuance. The problem is, that this approach does not cater for the inevitable and undoubtable specifics and alternative psychologies of the drug world. Many addicts and dealers are led there by unfortunate circumstances and are not simply deterred by a prison sentence or fine. For some, it’s their only option.
Similarly, all drugs are dealt with in a strict Class system, which does not acknowledge the evident differences and benefits of these drugs. Cannabis, for example, is an illegal Class B drug, yet around 30% of the UK have used it in their lives. In fact, by 2024, they expect there to be 337,000 medical cannabis users alone, however getting a cannabis prescription is well-known to be expensive and extremely difficult in the UK.
The UK Class System
This class system began in 1971 with the Misuse of Drug Act, and little has changed since then. Class A is the most extreme, and Class C is the least. However, all drugs are illegal recreationally.
Drugs include: anabolic steroids, diazepam and GHB.
Sentence: up to 2 years in prison for possession, up to 14 years in prison for production and an unlimited fine.
Drugs include: cannabis, codeine, ketamine, synthetic cannabinoids and mephedrone.
Sentence: up to 5 years in prison for possession, up to 14 years in prison for production and an unlimited fine.
Sentence: up to 7 years in prison for possession, life in prison for production and an unlimited fine.
The New Plan
When a video was released of the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, assisting the police force in a drug raid, it did not exude a feeling of hope but instead a feeling of hollow poltical gestures. However, with medical cannabis being legalized in 2018 and the rest of Europe starting to show signs of progression, there were feelings of hope that the new 10 year drug plan being implemented by the government would be a fresh start. A different approach from the outdated one that hasn’t worked for decades.
What is the Plan?
Obviously what the government set out to do, isn’t always what they actually do. But, on the surface, let’s take a look at what this plan is. Johnson sets out 3 core priorities:
Break drug supply chains
Making the UK a harder place for organised crime groups to operate. Spending £145 million in the county lines programme, which aims to stop drug gangs using the road and rail networks. By 2024/5, aiming to stop 2000 gangs.
Deliver a world-class treatment and recovery system
Spend £780 million to rebuild drug treatment and recovery services, mostly for young people and offenders. By 2024/5, aiming to deliver 54,000 new high-quality treatment places.
Shift in the demand for recreational drugs
Tougher consequences for those using drugs and more targeted activity for prevention. Implement a harder and stricter approach. By 2024/5, aiming to prevent 750,000 drug-related crimes.
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Focus on Lifestyle Drug Users
It seems that the new plan set out has a specific focus on ‘listyle’ users of Class A drugs.
“Middle-class drug users are to be targeted as part of a 10-year strategy to be announced by Boris Johnson’s government with a heavy focus on war-on-drugs-era punishment.”
The new plan will allow wealthy professionals to lose their passports or driving licences if found in consistent use, possession or selling. When speaking to the Sun newspaper, Boris Johnson said:
“We need to look at new ways of penalising them. Things that will actually interfere with their lives…So we will look at taking away their passports and driving licences…What I want to see is a world in which we have penalties for lifestyle drug users that will seriously interfere with their enjoyment of their own lifestyles.”
In fact, police will also be given powers to use drug dealer’s phones to message their clients with warnings about drug use. Hoping this will scare the clients from purchasing illegal drugs. Essentially, the message is: no one is safe.
The question is, will this approach work and does this show signs of optimism? Well, the investment in rehabilitation is evidently a positive approach. Treating addiction as a health condition, rather than a criminal act, is certainly the way forward. However, this policy is sandwiched between two hardcore, ‘war on drugs’ approaches, which begs the question: will people really start to believe that addiction is an illness if people who are using drugs are being prosecuted so extremely?
It’s important to note that this drug strategy is the UK’s seventh since 1995 and many believe it is ‘conceptually identical to previous strategies’. In other words, it’s the same, old, outdated approach to drugs. The executive director of Release, a drug policy organization, said:
“While increased funding for drug treatment is welcomed, the focus on more punitive sentences for people who supply drugs is a continuation of a tired tough-on-drugs narrative, one that we have had in the UK for decades.
This failed policy will do little to address the high rates of drug-related deaths, which over the last decade have increased year on year, with some of the highest rates in Europe.
While New York announces the opening of drug consumption rooms, Germany moves to legalise cannabis, as many US states and Canada have already done, and over 30 countries have ended criminal sanctions for possession of drugs – Britain is going backwards, embracing a Nixon-style ‘war on drugs’ approach.”
What is perfectly summarized here is that the UK has been tough on drugs for 50 years, and it hasn’t worked. It’s as simple as that. Drug-related deaths are at a record high, drug users are still receiving paralyzing criminal records, and the education of drugs is minimal. In addition, those people affected are disproportionately people in lower income families and from minority groups. A real, revolutionary 10 year plan would be one that involved cannabis legalization and drug-use decriminalization. This would show a true intent to think differently than the policies which haven’t been working for the last 50 years.
Keir Starmer, who is the leader of the opposition party (Labour party), did not highlight a real problem with the Conservative’s plan. His biggest issues were: where is the money coming from? And Isn’t this too little too late? Whilst these are valid points, this proves that even the opposition party in the UK do not want a drug policy of acceptance and nuance. Even the supposed ‘left-wing party’ believe in a tough-on-drugs approach. This is highly worrying, as it means there is currently no powerful poltical party in the UK whose aim is to completely change the narrative on drug policy. Instead, it’s two parties with essentially the same old-fashioned ideas.
As a UK citizen, this new 10-year plan fills me with concern. Whilst funding will be given to improve rehabilitation, I worry this is a political ploy to disguise the same disappointing approach as before. An approach that treats drug users as criminals and the drug industry as a scary place that needs to be nuked. When will the UK finally realize that a tough approach on drugs simply does not work? But then again, why would Boris Johnson understand. What does he know about poverty, desperation or the drug industry? As comedian Ricky Gervais recently said, when will being a student at prestigious and highly-expensive Eton school stop being a ‘qualification to run country’?
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What were some of the top cannabis stories of 2022? It was a big year for legalization efforts, but full-scale implementations are still needed. While Germany looked to legalize cannabis, it didn’t happen in 2022. Likewise, despite beliefs that Biden and the Democrats would legalize cannabis or, at the very least, pass some cannabis banking regulations, nothing came of it. Cannabis didn’t fare much better in Canada, where authorities launched a full-scale war on medical cannabis and legacy medical providers. […]
A major British railway station was evacuated earlier this week amid reports of a suspicious package.
The item that set off the panic? A weed grinder.
OK, it wasn’t just any grinder, but one that was “in the shape of a grenade,” according to BBC.
The evacuation occurred on Monday at Birmingham New Street Station.
According to BBC, all “services in and out of the station were suspended after reports of a suspicious package” at about 3:00 in the afternoon local time.
“Experts discovered the item, found on a platform, was actually a cannabis grinder in the shape of a grenade,” BBC reported. “Commuters were allowed back in at about [4:40], but disruption is expected to last until the end of the day.”
“Passengers were told to get ‘as far away from the building as possible’ according to some people at the scene amid the security threat. The bomb incident at the busy train station saw all lines blocked and all services running in and out of the station delayed as a 100 metre cordon was put in place. One person at the station claimed the conductor on the 15:28 from Derby told passengers a suspected grenade had been found at the station on platform 1.”
According to The Mirror, the station was “evacuated entirely and on the ground,” and there were “alarms going off as people were warned to get away from the station as police and ambulances descended on the scene of the incident.”
But, per the BBC, experts discovered the item was just a grinder.
“The item has now been assessed and deemed non-suspicious. It’s a cannabis grinder designed to resemble a hand grenade,” a spokesperson for the British Transport police told Birmingham Live.
“Officers received a report of a suspicious item on a platform at Birmingham New Street at 3pm today (31 October),” the spokesperson said earlier in the day, as quoted by Birmingham Live. “The station has been evacuated as a precaution and a cordon is in place while specialist officers attend to assess the item.”
Under the law in the United Kingdom, cannabis is classified as a “Class B” drug, dubbed an “intermediary category” that also includes amphetamines and barbiturates. “Class B” drugs carry potential penalties of up to five years in prison for possession, and as many as 14 years for trafficking and cultivation/production.
There were reports last month that the U.K.’s home secretary, Suella Braverman, had designs on imposing the stricter “Class A” on classification on cannabis.
“Class A” drugs include the likes of heroin and cocaine, and impose potential penalties of seven years in prison for possession, and possibly a life sentence for production.
“There’s no plans to change the laws around cannabis,” a spokesperson for the prime minister’s office said at the time, as quoted by BBC. “Our priority is on cracking down on illegal drugs and the crime they drive. We’ve launched a drug strategy backed by record investment to deliver a whole-system approach to tackling supply and demand.”
Braverman’s proposal was widely criticized.
Per the BBC, “Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was also critical of the idea, describing it as ‘regressive’ and ‘dangerous.’”
Yousaf “said one of the first things he would want to do if Scotland became independent would be to implement a ‘progressive’ approach to dealing with drug use to ‘break the cycle of poverty’ and substance abuse,” according to the BBC.
The vaporizer has, in a sense, done what it set out to do all along. It has done what many thought largely improbable. It has offered the world an attractive and viable alternative to smoking cigarettes. However, whilst the vape is taking the world by storm, it may be doing so at such a rate that the situation may be becoming slightly dicey.
In the UK, for instance, government ministers and health professionals are working hard to end the child vaping epidemic. Young people, those who were not even smoking before, are taking up the vape habit at an unusually early stage in their lives. Vaping may be healthier than smoking, but is it better than nothing at all?
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An e-cigarette or vaporizer comes in many shapes, colors and sizes but – in essence – they all work much the same. The vaporizer is an electronic device that allows users to vaporize, instead of smoke, tobacco. The vape battery attaches itself to a vape cartridge – a condensed tobacco liquid – and then heats up in order to turn this liquid into vapor. The vapor is then inhaled through the mouthpiece.
The temperature at which vapes heat tobacco liquid is one of the main reasons why they are much safer than smoking and, as a result, becoming increasingly popular as an alternative. The end of a lit cigarette burns at around 900 degrees Celsius, which means the tobacco is combusting. This causes the release of dangerous toxins and cancerous carcinogens for those inhaling it, and for those in the near vicinity (second hand smoke). It is believed that 8 million people a year die from smoking-related illnesses, with 1.2 million of these being from secondhand smoking. PMI writes:
“A smoker lights a cigarette, starting a high-temperature reaction known as burning, or combustion… The very same burning process that releases the tobacco flavors and nicotine also produces over 6,000 chemicals, of which about 100 have been identified as causes or potential causes of smoking-related diseases, such as lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and emphysema.”
With the dangers of smoking being so widely understood and constantly proven, it is no surprise that there was a gap for a healthier alternative in the market. In came the e-cigarette.
A Brief History
The history of the vaporizer is long but interesting, and many people give credit to different individuals for the part they played in its eventual creation. In fact, the first signs of the vaporizer may have come as far back as 5BC. During the times of the Ancient Egyptians, they were known to heat hemp seeds on hot rocks and inhale the steam. This was perhaps the first example of the vaping technique. In earlier history, in 1927, Joseph Robinson – an American inventor – patented the mechanical butane ignition vaporizer. This was far from the design of a modern vape, but it was the beginning of a culture of thinking differently.
Later on, in the 1960s, Herbert Gilbert then built a first example of what the future of vapes may look like. In 1993, Eagle Bill created the shake n vape. This device was a glass pipe that would be heated through the glass – rather than smoked – thus popularizing the idea of vaping. Nonetheless, it wasn’t until 2003 that e-cigs became what we know it as today. Hon Lik – a Chinese pharmacist – decided to create a device that would help people quit smoking; a habit that had killed his father. The Guardian writes:
“The breakthrough came in 2003, when he hit on the idea of using a piezoelectric ultrasound element to vaporize a nicotine solution in a device resembling a cigarette. These days battery-powered heating elements do the job, but the concept was born.”
The question still remains, and is now being debated more than ever, did Hon Lik do what he set out to do? He created the gadget to help users stop their smoking habits and offer them a healthier alternative. We know that vaping is, on the whole, a much better way to inhale nicotine than smoking. According to the National Health Service of England, vaping is only a fraction as harmful as smoking. Plus, they quote a 2019 clinical trial that proved that, when combined with face-to-face therapy, users were twice more likely to quit smoking using vaporizers than any other alternative option.
Is there a Problem?
However, there may be a problem that has arisen and to ignore this would be to blind the eyes. The real debate is whether this problem is worse than the alternative – a world where smoking is the main monopoly and is unchallenged. All in all, that would of course be worse, but it does not mean we should ignore the issues surrounding vaping. Hon Lik himself has admitted that he still smokes as well as vapes, using them in tandem.
This, evidently, was not the original purpose of the vape. In addition, he sold the rights for his device to a large tobacco company. The issue here is that vaping has become – as cigarettes were in the 60s – a fashionable thing. It is now cool to own a variety of different flavors and colors, with the disposable vapes being the most popular (especially in the UK and Europe). This is because vape companies are more led by the money they make, rather than the help they are giving. This isn’t abnormal, this is simply a symptom of capitalism.
Plus, the more popular vapes become, the more they can help people quit smoking – this is completely true. In 2021, the global vaping market was worth around 17.5 million dollars. This number is forecasted to increase to a whopping 43 million by 2028. In essence, e-cigarettes are becoming incredibly popular and there aren’t any signs to suggest this may stop any time soon. To put this in perspective, in 2021 the Global State of Tobacco Harm Reduction published a worldwide estimate that there were around 82 million vape users, which was a 17% increase from 2020.
As I’ve said, the popularity of the vaporizer is ultimately a big improvement on the world that existed before the vape did. It is wonderful that there is now a highly appealing alternative, an alternative that is far healthier too. However, the potential problem that has arisen is that it isn’t just people who smoke or once smoked who have started vaping. The issue is that vaping is becoming increasingly appealing to very young people who never had any smoking habits to begin with. Single Care writes:
“20% of people aged 18 to 29 vape, compared to 9% of people aged 30 to 49, 7% of people aged 50 to 64, and less than 0.5% of people older than 65. And, according to the Truth Initiative, 15- to 17-year-olds are 16 times more likely to vape than 25- to 34-year-olds.”
The Issue in the UK
In England specifically, there is believed to be around 6 million smokers, and 4 million vapers. Disposable e-cigs – elf bars and geek bars – are becoming increasingly popular in the UK. The varying flavors, colors, cheap price and ease of access mean that they are becoming even more appealing to the younger age groups. BBC News has quoted a survey by Action on Smoking and Health, which found that:
“Vaping in people aged 11-18 had doubled from 4% in 2020 to 8.6% in 2022. However, smoking figures for the same age-group had gone down slightly from 6.7% in 2020 to 6.0% in 2022… Lead author of the study, Prof Ann McNeill, who specialises in tobacco addiction, said vaping is “very unlikely to be risk-free…We strongly discourage anyone who has never smoked from taking up vaping or smoking,”
The issue with these disposable vapes is the way that they are marketed and designed. Do they need to be flavored? If people wanted to taste something good then they wouldn’t smoke. The nicotine addiction is the appealing part of a cigarette, not the flavoring. But by creating an e-cigarette that tastes essentially like sweets, the designers are allowing themselves to appeal to those who would usually avoid smoking due to this horrible flavor.
It is a flawed set up, which must be noticed. There are now many young people who are being tempted into vaping, simply because it quells their sweet tooth. Eventually this may then act as a gateway to real smoking, a gateway that may never have happened without this specific product. Another issue is that these disposable vapes are so smooth and easy to inhale, that it is very easy to go through an entire bar in a day.
Whereas smoking can become harsh on the throat and eventually deter someone from having another. Again, the problem here is with young people who weren’t smoking much before, not with addicted smokers. These young people are being given an easy route to nicotine. Whilst it is illegal to purchase a nicotine product under the age of 18, the likes of TikTok and other social media platforms constantly show young people using these disposable vapes. It isn’t hard to slip under the cracks.
On the whole, vaping has done wonders for helping smokers quit their dangerous habits. There is very little doubt in that fact. If the choice was simply between vapes existing or not existing then, of course, the former would be an easy decision. However, there is nuance in this world, it isn’t all black and white – and we must aim to improve everything we can. The truth is that disposable flavored vapes – especially in the UK – are becoming a problem for young non-smokers.
I have seen it with my own eyes. My friend’s younger siblings who have never touched a cigarette in their lives, who hate the taste, have suddenly started enjoying a ‘blueberry elfbar’. I myself have even been tempted by the undeniably tasty flavor, smooth inhale and cheap price. The question is: what is the answer? In my opinion, we must continue to focus on why vapes were made in the first place: to offer an alternative to smoking. This means avoiding vape designs that cater themselves to young people who most likely wouldn’t have smoked in the first place.
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The Royal Gazette stated that on Sept. 6, Bermuda Governor and Commander-in-Chief Rena Lalgie was “instructed” by United Kingdom Foreign Secretary to refuse to give royal assent to the Cannabis Licensing Bill. “The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs concluded that the Bill, as currently drafted, is not consistent with obligations held by the UK and Bermuda under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs and the 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. I have informed the Premier and relayed the UK’s continued desire to work with Bermuda on reforms within the scope of our existing international obligations,” Lalgie said.
According to the U.K. Parliament, royal assent is final approval for a bill to become law. “Once a bill has completed all the parliamentary stages in both Houses, it is ready to receive royal assent,” the U.K. parliament states.
This news occurred on the same day that Liz Truss became U.K. Prime Minister (PM), replacing former PM Boris Johnson.
Media reports that the denial of approval for Bermuda’s bill has caused tension in relations between the U.K. and Bermuda. Bermuda Attorney General Kathy Lynn Simmons explained that this won’t be the end for cannabis in the country. “Disappointing, but not surprising, given the confines of our constitutional relationship with the UK government and their archaic interpretation of the narcotic conventions,” Simmons said. “The people of Bermuda have democratically expressed their desire for a regulated cannabis licensing regime, following the strong endorsement at the ballot box and an extensive public consultation process. The Government of Bermuda intends to continue to advance this initiative, within the full scope of its constitutional powers, in keeping with our 2020 general election platform commitment.”
The Bermuda House of Assembly approved the Cannabis Licensing Bill in March 2022, which then moved to Gov. Lalgie for royal assent. However, not all legislators were in support of the cannabis bill.
Bermuda has two political parties: the One Bermuda Alliance and the Progressive Labour Party (PLP). One Bermuda Alliance’s Shadow Home Affairs Minister, Scott Pearman describes the bill as “deeply flawed.” In April, he said that there was a “high likelihood” that Lalgie wouldn’t grant royal assent and the bill would not become law. Pearman explained that the bill was a flagship initiative of current Premier Edward Burt, who is also the leader of the PLP, and “almost half of his PLP MPs did not vote for the Bill.”
“It was deeply flawed—no matter what position you hold on the cannabis debate, this particular Bill was not for you. The Premier has been well aware of the U.K.’s treaty obligations throughout,” Pearman continued. “His own attorney-general pointed out the U.K.’s treaty obligations in parliament when the Bill was debated the first time in February 2021. The premier then stated publicly in November 2021 that he had no intention of tailoring his Bill to satisfy the U.K.’s conventions obligations. So, it was [PM Edward] David Burt’s choice to steam ahead as he did, rather than seek consensus and compromise. It should come as no surprise to anyone that royal assent has not been granted on this Bill. And it should certainly not surprise Premier Burt.”
It might not be exactly “anarchy in the U.K.,” but there may have been some mischief at play in the English village of West Parley.
Locals there have been snickering as of late over some unexpected growth discovered last week in one of the public floral displays situated throughout town.
Looming over the bed of pink and purple petals were several distinctive plants that were quickly identified as cannabis.
The “six suspicious plants have been removed from a parish council display after concerns were raised by a resident,” according to the BBC.
British media has had a field day with the discovery.
The West Parley parish council “was left red-faced when cannabis was spotted growing in their flower display,” the Daily Mail howled.
The Daily Mail said that “Tray Veronica, who was on the school run at the time…alerted West Parley Parish Council which confirmed that the plant was most definitely not on this year’s floral schedule.”
Some, according to Veronica, “were so big they were ‘towering above the bedding plants.”
“But embarrassingly for the council,” the Daily Mail said, “despite being alerted to the issue it has still not removed a photo on its social media celebrating the display, in which the cannabis plants are clearly visible.”
“‘I just found it hilarious. The council were looking after these planters every day,” Veronica told Metro. “All the other plants are still in the planter. It’s just the cannabis that’s been removed.
“The planters do look so beautiful. The council did a great job with them and I’m sure this was just someone’s idea of a joke.”
The council eventually addressed the offending plants.
“On 20th July, the parish council was alerted to a report concerning one of the village’s floral displays, which suggested it may have been tampered with and amongst the flowers was a plant not part of this year’s schedule,” a statement from the council said, as quoted by Metro.
“On the advice of the police, the plant was located, removed and has been secured by the parish council and arrangements are being made to pass it on to Dorset Police for identification and destruction,” the statement continued. “An inspection has taken place of all the parish’s other planters, and this has not raised any further concerns.”
Just last summer, police discovered a huge illicit cannabis growing operation in a 17th century British castle.
“Officials took multiple days to remove plants and cultivation equipment from the building, but have not shared whether any damage was incurred to the centuries-old property as a result of the grow,” the Canadian newspaper Regina Leader-Postreported at the time.
“This is the first cannabis factory in the City, no doubt being set up in response to fewer people being out and about during the pandemic who might have noticed any unusual activity,” Andy Spooner, the London detective who oversaw the investigation, said at the time. “However, this demonstrates that City of London Police continues to actively police the Square Mile, bearing down on any crime committed here.”
The New York Times noted that the operators of the growhouse capitalized on the lack of activity in the normally bustling district, which had seen a decline in foot-traffic during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The area is normally teeming with people, particularly on weekdays. The London Stock Exchange and the corporate headquarters of major financial groups, as well as the Bank of England, are all tightly clustered in the zone, also known as the Square Mile,” the Timesreported.
Think twice about smoking a doobie while traveling in the U.K. People in England and Wales could be subject to stricter punishments, including risking losing their passports or driver’s licenses under new rules recently proposed. But some people are worried it’s a thinly-veiled attack on the middle class.
The White Paper document—titled “Swift, Certain, Tough New consequences for drug possession”—was published by the Home Office in July. People charged with drug-related crimes could risk losing their passports and driver’s licenses as the U.K. government ramps up efforts to “tackle the scourge of substance abuse in society.” The Home Office is the government department responsible for immigration, security, and law & order.
Offenders in England and Wales would be subject to a “three strikes”-style system. The system breaks up offenses into three tiers. The Telegraphreports that it’s going to impact the nation’s middle class the most—leading to bans from nightclubs over random drug convictions. And that’s just the beginning: losing a driver’s license and a passport could come next.
The three-strikes system in general is a sentencing structure designed to deter crime faster, but is decried by advocacy groups.
First, anyone caught with illegal drugs would be forced to pay for and attend a drug awareness course, and if they fail to comply, they would receive an increased fixed penalty notice or face prosecution. Second-time offenders would be cautioned, ordered to attend an additional drug awareness course, and face mandatory, random drug testing for a period of up to three months.
People charged with drugs for a third time would be likely to be charged, and upon conviction as part of a civil court order, could be subject to an exclusion order banning them from nightclubs and entertainment venues, and they could have their passports or drivers’ licenses confiscated.
The White Paper explains that drugs cause “enormous harm to children and young people, impacting on their health and their ability to work and learn,” and doesn’t make the distinction between cannabis and drugs.
“Drug misuse puts lives at risk, fuels criminality and serious and violent crime, and also results in the grotesque exploitation of young, vulnerable people,” said Home Secretary Priti Patel. “We are cracking down on drug use with tougher consequences for so-called recreational drug users who will face the consequences of their actions through sanctions, including fines and conditions to attend rehabilitation courses, while drug offenders could have their passports and driving licenses confiscated.”
The MP continued, “In line with our strategy to tackle the harmful consequences of drugs, we aim to reverse the rising trend of substance use in society to protect the public from the harm and violence of drug misuse.”
The legislation will subsequently go through a 12-week consultation period, taking place about seven months after the government published its 10-year drug strategy.
Researchers found a 72% increase in deaths related to drug poisoning and about 2% increase in “frequent drug users” between 2011 to 2020, being defined as having taken any drug more than once in a month in the past year, according to the latest Crime Survey for England and Wales.