How do you shut down illegal marijuana growers? How about handing out a bunch of scratch and sniff cards imbued with the aroma of marijuana? That's the latest Crimestoppers idea in the war against drugs in the UK.
BBC News reported Tuesday (March 19) that the charity organization has begun distributing the green-and-black cards to about 210,000 residents in an effort to familiarize people with the smell of marijuana, something that, although quite prevalent in modern society, everyone is not altogether familiar with. The familiarization, of course, will hopefully lead to reporting to police and a crackdown in overall crime.
"We are distributing scratch and sniff cards because not many people know how to recognise the signs of cannabis cultivation happening in their neighborhood," says Roger Critchell, director of operations at Crimestoppers.
Critchell also hopes to make people more aware that pot farming and marijuana use is associated with various criminal activities like organized crime, something most average citizens might not recognize.
The cards, when scratched, give off the scent of marijuana in its early growth state.
The worst area for pot farms, according to the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO), in the England in the past couple years has been West Yorkshire, where some 1,800 pot farms were found between 2010 and 2012. South Yorkshire had 1,600 uncovered in the same time frame. London itself even had 1,200.
Crimestoppers noted that there had been a 15 percent rise in marijuana farms found in homes between 2011 and 2012.
ACPO's Andy Bliss said: "Many people don't realise that the empty, run-down house or flat on their street with people coming and going late at night may actually be a commercial cannabis farm." He says pot farming isn't just stereotypically rural anymore and they're sometimes run by organized criminals, bringing in an unsafe element into local neighborhoods.
But are they a good idea? Will it be seen as a scratch and snitch program? And what about pot-laced cards?
First, Crimestoppers, according to the Inquisitr, is quick to note that the cards contain no THC at all. Scratch and sniff all one wants and you can't get high.
The UK's scratch and sniff program is a derivative of the Dutch program initiated in 2010 where 30,000 cards were distributed, according to The Telegraph. The cards were used against an illegal industry not only responsible for illegal growing of cannabis but also the illegal use of electricity and water. The Netherlands (where marijuana is decriminalized but only for personal use -- and only a few plants per person) sees about 6,000 pot plantations shut down each year.
Although official numbers aren't available, one fails to see why a program would be implemented that was derived from a failed similar program, so...
Effectiveness will hinge primarily on the populace and their willingness to out their neighbors or the strangers down the block whose house produces pot odors and that have an unusually high rate of traffic in and out of their house late at night. The "don't snitch" culture that has become prevalent in many areas in the US might be just as prevalent in the UK.
Still, Crimestoppers and law authorities are hoping that the cards help them weed out some of the more anti-social element that the illegal industry has brought to the country.