Daily Mail confuses cloth for cannabis

The Daily Mail fulfils a very important role in enlightening the British public about the issues that surround drug use and the progress of the war on drugs. They have a sizeable collection of stories on drug busts, and allow Peter Hitchens and Melanie Phillips to share their well-thought-out opinions on how prohibition needs to be more draconian.

This week they have given us an insight into the situation in India. They report that thousands of kilos of cannabis have been found by the authorities in the north-eastern state of Assam – a haul so enormous that the Mail couldn’t find any pictures of it.

According to the Mail, the police destroyed the cannabis by setting it on fire. Helpfully, they included in the article a picture of several rolls of cloth burning, as though the average Mail-reader doesn’t know what fire looks like. The article implies that this method of disposal is liable to be abused by police officers – “Biggest legal high in history?” is the reasonable title of the piece. If someone actually got high from the smoke of burning cloth, that might be worth a story.

This is a symptom of a wider problem India faces, if the Mail’s in-depth analysis is to be believed. “Cannabis cultivation has become rife in the towns and villages of Assam in recent years”, they say, neglecting that cannabis is native to the foothills of the Himalayas, and that it has been cultivated and consumed in the region for millennia.

Because the pictures that the Mail provides seem to be irrelevant to the story, and because “It is not known exactly how large the haul was”, some people may come to the conclusion that the Mail based the article on nothing more than hearsay, and that it simply needed a drug war success story for the day. But of course the rest of us know that the Mail is a bastion of good journalism, and “Biggest legal high in history?” only confirms its quality.