When most purchase a £20 bag from their dealer, the fact that they are probably funding child-slavery doesn’t cross their minds.
A great piece of investigative journalism by Al Jazeera has exposed this dark fact. 300 children per year are trafficked into the UK (According to the UK government’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre organisation). Around 25% end up in cannabis factories.
While ten years ago, only 11% of the UK’s marijuana supply was grown locally, that figure now stands at 90%. Last year, UK law enforcement uncovered plants worth £250m. Trafficking victims have been discovered in all parts of England and Wales.
…Vietnamese children are often subject to debt bondage…
Although the police are uncovering growing numbers of Vietnamese cannabis rings, the ease with which they can relocate, begin production again, and transfer child-labour ensures that the problem will not fade away any time soon.
These Vietnamese children are often subject to debt bondage. As a consequence, they are forced to work in the UK until they have paid off the debt. In the UK, debt bondage sums range between £12,000 and £36,000. As a consequence, they are forced to work for years under slavery.
This debt often arises from Vietnamese gangs approaching families in Vietnam living in relative poverty. Promising their children education and a bright future in the UK, the children are then trafficked into the UK and forced to work until trafficking costs are paid off. Although notionally covering travel, accommodation, food and trafficking fees, charges are often inflated to ensure that the children are kept in slavery.
Once in the UK, Vietnamese gangs often demand that the children destroy their travel documents – keeping their identities, and the cannabis networks, underground. This also makes it very difficult for the children to go to the authorities for help.
…alcohol and tobacco are more harmful that cannabis and LSD…
However, the UK government’s position on cannabis exacerbates the problem. This position was highlighted when Dr David Nutt was sacked from his position as a government drugs advisor. Dr Nutt stated that drugs should be classified according to the evidence of harm they cause, and produced evidence stating that alcohol and tobacco are more harmful that cannabis and LSD.
The UK government, in ignoring scientific evidence, created the conditions within which enslaving Vietnamese children are profitable. Upon legalisation, the supply of cannabis would be stripped from the hands of Vietnamese child slavers.
Criminal gangs would lose business to taxable, legitimate cannabis retailers. Such retailers could be regulated, ensuring quality and limiting harm. The profits from such taxes could then be invested in drug education – ensuring that the population is educated enough to make an informed choice about their personal cannabis consumption.
Of course, the population will end up taking drugs upon legalisation – albeit without all the social damage caused by illegalisation. Legal or not, people will smoke pot.