"If you're gonna shot, shot properly".
In a blind moral panic, most news outlets failed to notice that crucial line during the video of a 14 year old girl mercilessly punching a vulnerable boy in Croydon which went viral last week.
It appears from the clip that the boy is getting a slap for selling sub-standard puff to the estate, a message hammered home by the girl's line "when anyone on this estate comes for a draw, you're not giving them dust". Nobody wants to see a teenager humiliated like that, especially by a vile shit like her, but violence comes with the territory when you trade in illegal commodities, and what the dealings in that Croydon alleyway captured is a perfectly scaled-down version of our unregulated drugs market.
Britain's appetite for recreational drugs is such that now almost one in three adults has taken an illegal substance. It affects every echelon of society. Every class. Every race. Statistics continue to show that blanket condemnation and finger wagging has not been an effective means of prevention for the government, and as demand rises in the UK, so will the number of hopeful young entrepreneurs who choose weed, a substance less addictive than alcohol or nicotine, as their commodity.
I grew up in a somewhat unique part of London, where crime at every level runs through the lifeblood of the community. Where the Range Rovers and Bentleys ride through alongside your crackhead ex-mate from the flats who'll rob your phone if you turn a blind eye for five minutes. The continuation of the East End's Golden Age of criminality. It wasn't until I was 23 and got a job behind a desk that I realised most people hadn't seen someone get shot in front of them, or that 'normal' people didn't generally carry fat wads of cash around in their belt.
I never judged anybody, but it gave me an early understanding that if you choose to earn your living through criminal endeavours you are entering into a dangerous world where order is kept through the threat of violence. If you fuck up, there's no tribunal or disciplinary, it's your face, your legs or your family. When somebody you used to know washes up in a sports bag on the side of a lake over a relatively trivial sum of money, it kind of brings the message home.
Our government's strict policy of denial only seeks to force that criminal element into an industry which could function perfectly well without it. The freedom of information and communication available to us in the digital age means illogical laws are harder to enforce without question - especially when other psychoactive drugs are readily available on every high street, with up to 90% of the population dependant upon them. How much longer can we put our fingers in our ears and pretend this isn't happening?
It's hardly a surprise that last year we learnt a key survey on drug laws was suppressed by a Tory government obsessed with the idea of punishment over progress, not to mention a keen eye on the profitability of private prisons (those same private prisons where staff routinely use and smuggle drugs for inmates, by the way).
Criminalising large sections of otherwise law-abiding people, despite a growing public acceptance towards drugs like cannabis, means the quality and supply of product will continue to be controlled by those who can strike the most fear into the market. In this case it's the Croydon Pigtail Mafia.
The unfortunate boy in the video has learnt a lesson, but it's come at a good time. Generally, the later you start in the game, the worse the consequences when you inevitably piss someone off. If he's sensible he'll find himself a job where cutting corners won't find himself on the wrong end of a right hook.
The message for the government is this: you can't stop freethinking people making their own choices about drugs. If you're gonna shot, shot properly.