Much has been written and talked about across twitter, the MSM and several blogs regarding the connection between Islamic terrorism and the use of cannabis. I wanted to find out more about what cannabis does and how it affects people. I decided, in the first instance at least, to talk to Colin Cross. He had told me something about his younger life and I knew that he had been a regular user of the stuff, so I thought he might be able to give me some insight.
As usual, where Colin is concerned, I wasn’t left wanting. I walked past his house and found him just sweeping up an area of cobbles that he had been pointing up. Luckily, when I asked him how long he was likely to be and if he had time for a chat he replied that he was just finishing up. If I didn’t mind waiting for 15 minutes or so he’d open a couple of beers and we could have a natter. It was a lovely evening and as Colin had a nice table and a couple of chairs in his south facing garden we sat outside to drink and talk.
I began by asking him if he could describe just what it felt like to be high on pot, he laughed a little at my use of somewhat archaic terminology but then he began to tell me what he knew.
“Cannabis is unusual, although it affects all users in a broadly similar way the level of sensation can differ greatly between people. When I first started smoking it was almost exclusively hashish that was available. Hashish is a resin derived from the Cannabis Sativa plant and dependent on which part of the world it originates from it comes in a range of colours and strengths. In my experience black hash is the most potent, especially the types from Nepal and Northern Pakistan. Afghan black, sometimes cut with just a little opium is particularly potent, some of the modern leaf product, called weed, is even stronger.
If I had to describe the sensation of a high I would say it induces a feeling of euphoria, to different degrees, it can cause uncontrollable laughter for a short time and there is no doubt that it heightens the senses, also to a greater or lesser degree; this is particularly noticeable where music, art, cinema and food are concerned. Out of all the so called recreational drugs Cannabis is seen as the most socially rewarding by its exponents but I’m not sure I necessarily agree with that”.
I asked Colin how long he had been a user of cannabis for and if, between me and him he still used it. He replied that he had taken it in all its various forms for 20 years or so, he had then stopped using it, only to take it up again when in his 40’s for a couple of years. During this later stage of use he told me that he had started to understand that dope wasn’t just about feeling good. There were psychological downsides for him and he finally gave it up altogether in 1999.
“Is there anything else you can tell me about the effect it has on people, not necessarily yourself but on some of the people you knew” I asked him.
“As I said originally, it affects people in different ways. I knew people back in the mid 70’s, some of them in early middle age who were accomplished musicians, business people and the like that had been smoking and eating dope for years. They were all “laid back” and into hippy stuff but they seemed to cope and, in most cases, thrive on it. It seemed to me that they had a take it or leave it attitude and, in the main, they chose to take it. I knew others that craved dope; they couldn’t wait to skin up in the morning and spent their days doing nothing else apart from finding the cash to feed their desire by various means, a form of addiction if you like. I also knew some people who couldn’t handle dope at all, but thought they could. It does, in my opinion, tend to make the user feel a bit superior to other people but whether that’s just because amongst drug users using drugs is cool I couldn’t truly say”.
“What do you think about the fuss that is being made around the fact that Salman Abedi is reputed to have been a heavy user of Cannabis?, Do you think there might be some truth to it and, if so, do you think that the use of cannabis could be responsible for his actions, as people like Peter Hitchens claim?”
“Let me get another couple of beers” said Colin. “I have a theory about that, it isn’t something that the majority of people will agree with I don’t suppose, but we’re all entitled to our opinion”. With that he went into his house and returned in just a couple of minutes with 2 cold beers and a bowl of snacks. “I thought we might fancy a nibble” he said, laughing to himself “Beer’s a bit like dope in that can create what we used to call the hunger buzz”.
Colin sat down and began to deliver his theory on the correlation between Cannabis use and Islamic terror; “I think it’s a bit like this, the people at the heart of Islam, the true Islamists if you will, only desire one thing, the creation of a Caliphate of nations with one religion which is of course Islam and one set of laws The Sharia. They have instigated lots of different ways to create this; we see them all around us. Propaganda, baby farming, victimhood and involvement in the host nation’s politics are some of the more “subtle” methods they use but, far and away the most spectacular is Jihad. Personally I think that if Islam believed it could conquer the world with Jihad it would try to do so. It can’t though so it uses it as just another tool”. Colin paused, ate a handful of peanuts, took a long draught of his beer and carried on.
“In Britain we have a large Muslim population drawn from all parts of the globe, Sunni and Shia, Wahabi, Deobandi, Salifist and other groups, some of whom have a higher propensity for violence that others. Amongst these there are a number of people, “leaders” if you will, that recognise this fact. To unleash Jihad these leaders need compliant foot soldiers, the most likely outcome of any Jihad attack is death for the Jihadi and it takes a special person to do something knowing that it will be the last thing they ever do. Consequently they need to identify malleable people who are either well versed in the true meaning of the Qu’uran or are willing to accept this meaning as the only possible interpretation”.
Colin gave me a minute to take in what he had said and went to replenish our beers for the second time “Crikey Col, no more for me” I said. “I’ll be half cut by the time I get home and late for dinner” Colin laughed as he handed me a third beer, “One more won’t hurt, tell the wife I held you up, it won’t be the first time she’s heard that”. “That’s true” I replied with a chuckle.
“Anyway, let me get to the point, I told you earlier about how dope heightens the senses, it also heightens perception, not in the same way as LSD or some of the other hallucinogenic drugs but enough to make you a little more aware of your surroundings. If we look at the last two Islamist attacks, Westminster and Manchester we might assume that both these men were targeted by handlers because of a couple of reasons. They were already “into” radical Islam for want of a better phrase and all they needed was a little bit of encouragement to become Jihadi martyrs. They were also both into smoking dope and it’s pretty clear that neither of them were the brightest buttons in the box. My theory is that for some people, especially those with a lowish IQ and some fixed beliefs either learned or inherent adding dope to the mix is the final piece of the jigsaw. Imagine them, as high as kites, listening to ISIS and other Islamist nonsense in the same way an ordinary dope fiend might listen to Pink Floyd. The music sticks and becomes ingrained in the psyche, Floyd become your favourite band and you won’t hear a word said against them, no matter what”.
Colin had been sipping away at his beer while he had been talking as had I and he now drained his glass. “I think Peter Hitchens has it partly right, but that’s just my opinion and I could be wrong. Imagine though if you will the combination of a bit of quasi religious extremist video, a couple of ounces of hash or weed and an impressionable mind, looking for answers. The consequences, at least to my way of thinking could be pretty toxic”.
I got up to go; a little unsteadily I might add, and thanked Colin for his hospitality. If it was true what Colin had told me, and I had no reason or evidence to doubt him, it wasn’t the drug taking making these people kill and maim indiscriminately, it was the combination of it coupled with the ideology of radical Islam and stupid impressionable people. I didn’t know whether to be more or less worried by what I had learned but it certainly made at least a bit of sense.