An old friend dropped a little something by today.

Subject: Water pressed Afghan circa 1972 by Roger Bunn
© 2001

Rye is situated near Paul McCartney owned farmland in Sussex. I'm not surprised that my friend does not remember as to what the place actually looked like. But, twice a year in the middle of the day, 3 gentlemen of the most amateur of professions, would wend their way by car and empty trailer to the quay. From which they would back the trailer to the water and the dingy arriving in the harbor. And whereupon, after a minimum of delay, they would take delivery of some interesting smelling cargo. Hoiching the small boat onto the trailer took
only a couple a minutes while surrounded by the mid day paraphernalia of the busy harbor. And away to the lock up went about half a ton of boat. Once there, stripping it out became a distinct pleasure for all concerned in this most noteworthy of occupations. What was left of the boat once all the panels had been removed, then headed out on the trailer to a secluded spot or a clearing in the woods. Covering it in petrol, and checking one more time before igniting. "Oh dear, someone missed his hundredweight?" And with only the shape of a boat and a pile of ash to greet one upon a return to the ground the next day, the ritual firing would commence. And one would then "fk off" as quickly as possible.

Meanwhile, back at the lock-up, slap bang in the middle of one of England's more snooty county towns. The trailer was emptily arriving with a recently disembarked boat, only to be taken out when needed in the future. And the splitting of the precious cargo would engage a few cars, a hundredweight at a time, delivering to the wholesalers where "fred" would be  waiting for delivery. From then, the chain would bring what was probably the best fresh hashish to ever hit the UK, onto the streets of the capital of England and beyond. Scottish money had been arriving for some while, and this operation had become rather popular beyond the norm. In around 1972, the harbor at Rye had become a pilgrimage for those who knew exactly what was good about
the very best of what Afghanistan had to offer.

Water pressed hashish.

Everybody's happy!! And suddenly there is an air of a generous nature pervading the community. Even when His Lordship, a member of the House of Lords, was occasionally visiting his mother along with guests such as PM Edward Heath and few members of Special Branch. And would visit a little too close by for comfort, as when the Branch had gotten lost and they would drive up the wrong entrance, thereby landing up in a place wherein, although at other times may have been of interest. At the moment, after asking direction from the man loading sacks from the boot of his car into his hideaway. This operation was of little interest.

Disc jockeys and rock stars abounded around the county, during those years wherein at Christmas, Afghan cookies would be in serious demand. Ascot based John Lennon would often water press party with Sussex local DJ Kenny Everett, and throughout the year, one of the many pleasures of life that could be obtained, may have been living in a mansion in Sussex, or Surrey. With a steady supply of that which kept you with a smile on faces of an immaculate dimension.

While the 60s had lead to a middle class revolution, here in the 70s, the harbor at Rye was very much part of the time.  These were the "Afghani people". The British people who are not to be confused with the Lebanese or any other part of the international trade in what is a far less threatening drug than alcohol.

At £12.00 an once at the time.  At £120.00 a weight, that's 16 ounces folks. Wherein we have a profit margin? 6 ounces out of every 16 belonged to the man who was dragging a bunch of sacks into his garage while directing the local "traffic".

I've never been a believer in too much artistic license, so please believe me when I tell you that the author of this piece, quite unknowingly, used to house sit while the tenants were abroad. Wherein the true contents of which
were never known would always turn out to be a most encouraging way to pass the day and on to friends. The several hundredweights of water pressed Afghan hash, of which I am sure that one way or another, if justice would prevail at the time. My innocence would have been "easy to prove", were a blessing. A blessing that some bright spark in the UN or the UNDCP or even the Pentagon will cease to ignore while insisting that the world suffers from delusion? The illusion that the Afghan nation, and a small number of other Third World nations. Produce little of great worth to offer in terms of valuable export. But while locally produced skunk in the UK is easily sold to the punters for £200 on the market. One would think that the old timers would be of use, were they allowed to assist their government's policies at home and at the UN. Unfortunately not, and the UN would rather have the fields full of poppies. For such as the Afghans will never be satisfied by feeding themselves on raisins, nuts and apricots.

As for every other poppy producing lands? Well maybe they should start to chill and re-examine their positions. At a benchmark price of £200 an ounce, the Afghan people would have plenty of financial room to rebuild a structure wherein life and generosity became primary factors.
Could one get a better chance to reclaim Bekka Valley for cannabis? Organically produced cannabis was the past, and could be the future, if only those individuals with the power to get things done at the UN would have a
little more courage. Organic is "trendy", just to date the old days of Rye.

No GM crop for the weed?

This was the evidence that I forwarded to the Home Affairs Select Committee, after I had listened to it complaining as to the price of methadone treatment and allowing doctors to prescribe heroin to registered addicts. As new legislation permits some growing of skunk under lights in ones home. Is it not viable (maybe not politically) that people wishing to quit smack and methadone, are allowed to grow a few repeat few, poppies? The cost would be nothing to the Chancellor. Should we not do as the Committee suggest? Concentrate, such as with those who returned from the days of the Raj, on "management"?

Subject: A Very English Habit

The best article on "tiffin" that I have ever read. Considering that I have suggested a somewhat radical if seriously cost effective idea to the House, the Home Affairs Select Committee inquiry on drugs. The "Do it yourself method", wherein poppies can be grown at home under lights to ease the withdrawal from heroin. As opium is much better for one than either heroin or methadone, and as this would cost nothing from the government except a little courage and a signature or two on a sheet of paper. This article arrived just in time? Of course, proposing something as simple and radical as this, has lost me every opportunity I ever had for toeing the line for a government / Drugscope grant.

The price one has to pay for a simple mind I guess.

However, the ex members of the Raj seemed to have it all "in line", down in the back gardens of Kent and Sussex, a few decades ago. Love the bit about the "chinaman" don't you? ugh.

Copyright: New Scientist, RBI Limited 2001
Author: Fred Pearce


Today it is Afghanistan. A couple of decades ago it was the "golden triangle" in Southeast Asia. Before that it was India and Mexico, China and Turkey. Opium and the people who grow it were always the outsiders, the
infidels, the Oriental fiends. Even as harassed Victorian mothers lulled their children to sleep with laudanum laced patent medicines, they shuddered at tales in the popular press of East End opium dens run by Chinamen just off the junk from Shanghai.

So it comes as a shock to discover that Mitcham, a dormitory suburb of south London just off the end of the Underground map was once the drugs capital of Britain. For through much of the 19th century, the water meadows of Mitcham were alive with white opium poppies. This little corner of Surrey was the largest centre of cultivation of the dreaded plant in Britain. It was the golden triangle of the home counties.

THE VILLAGE of Mitcham, in the sleepy headwaters of the River Wandle, was for some 150 years the medicinal plants capital of England. As Surrey squire Sir T. Cato Worsfold recalled at the turn of the last century: "Almost everything in the vegetable kingdom that had a healing virtue in the medical world was produced in the village." And that included much that was narcotic, as well as much that was fragrant and soothing.

Back then people didn't distinguish between bad and good drugs the way they do today. Opium had been a staple of life in Britain since at least the Middle Ages. In the 17th century it was embraced by Thomas Sydenham, often regarded as Britain's first modern doctor, though more as a sedative than a mind-altering agent. Early in the 19th century, at least half the national intake was consumed in the marsh fens of Cambridge and Lincoln, where it eased the malarial fevers still rife there.

But demand soared throughout the country for much of the rest of the century, as it became an ingredient of hundreds of patent medicines, often in the form of laudanum mixture of opium and alcohol. It stopped the runs,
cured gout, soothed toothaches and dulled menstruation pains.

Queen Victoria used it, as the records of the local pharmacy in her Scottish Highlands fastness at Balmoral attest. By one estimate, a sixth of all the children in the country were regularly sent to sleep with Godfrey's
Cordial  a judicious mixture of opium, treacle, water and spices. In the 1870s, some 100 tons of opium was consumed in Britain annually. In its many forms it became the aspirin of its day.

Despite this, Britons have persisted in seeing opium as an alien invader. But although it's true that the opium poppy grows better in hotter climes, it has a long history in Britain. Archaeologists recently found opium poppy
seeds in an underwater excavation of a Scottish settlement in Perthshire, some 2500 years old.

Maybe cultivation died out. But its revival was ensured by a campaign run in the 1790s by the Society of Arts in London to encourage the growing of pharmaceutical plants. The society offered cash prizes to successful opium growers. One winner was John Ball, who produced a bumper crop on his land at Williton on the Somerset Levels, selling the harvest to local apothecaries.

It would not have been long before this came to the attention of Mitcham's farmers. Starting around 175O, they built up a huge business supplying London and elsewhere with every kind of pharmaceutical plant and fragrant
herb. Major James Moore of Figges Marsh was the big cultivator in the heyday of the first half of the 19th century, along with his neighbor James Arthur of Pound Farm.

"Probably there is not in the whole kingdom a single parish on which the wholesale druggists and distillers of the metropolis draw more largely for their supplies," said local chronicler Edward Walford in 1884.

They set aside hundreds of acres around the village of Mitcham for what became known as the Mitcham Physic Garden, a cornucopia of the fragrant, the toxic, the hallucinogenic, the anesthetic and, sometimes no doubt, the fraudulent. They set up stills and mills to process the products. Some famous names began here. The Yardley cosmetics company, for instance. Mitcham Mints became famous sweets. And Moore's family got together with their relatives the Potters, and began pushing lavender fragrances under the Potter & Moore brand.

But not all was fragrance. In among the fields of chamomile and liquorice, peppermint and caraway, Major Moore was growing opium poppies and other subsequently banned narcotics such as wormwood. The poppies were harvested both for their opium the dried juice extracted from the unripe seed capsules and for morphine, one of opium's most powerful alkaloids. By the 1830s, local records show that Mitcham poppy heads were the major source of "English opium" for London druggists.

Moore grew hemp too in the 1840s. It was a popular antidote to opium withdrawal symptoms, but was also used along with opium to treat for insanity. And he grew the hallucinogenic wormwood which was used in place
of hops in local beer.

Benjamin Slater -- one of a family of Slaters who mostly left for Australia, where they founded three towns called Mitcham, grew lavender and became the first to commercialize the eucalyptus tree described the
extraordinary variety of pharmaceutical plants growing in the fields of Mitcham (the one in Surrey), in a memoir written in 1911. The poppies "grew 5 to 6 feet tall, with large heads as big as your fist, their stalks thick
and strong", he wrote.

He went on to describe how he had eaten a piece of wormwood in the fields and "shuddered from head to foot" at its bitterness. Saffron too was "a poison", he said, along with the "pretty little green foliage" of lavender
cotton, and the "very deadly" monkshood.

Opium gradually fell out of favor at the end of the 19th century, partly because of growing medical concern about its psychotropic and physical effects, and partly because of late Victorian panics about Chinamen and the like. With the introduction of the 1920 Dangerous Drugs Act, it finally became illegal in Britain to possess opium without a doctor's prescription. The drug went underground, reemerging as heroin.

Soon history was being rewritten. The opium poppies were written out. The local council publishes a book The Story of Lavender, but nothing on the Mitcham poppy. Nonetheless, if public morals had taken a different turn,
perhaps Potter & Moore would have become famous in the 20th century for its English opium" rather than for its lavender-scented toiletries.


Doublespeak on drugs, rights and the Mullahs

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Founded at the US Embassy in London during UN50, and in support of a Genuine war upon hard drugs and human rights abuse. Mihra is calling on the UN to make radical changes in laws on soft drugs and overseas development in Afghanistan.

"The Burma Out Campaign 2000" : Contrary to a "drug free Games". The spin forwarded by US Drug Tsar General Barry McCaffrey, the International Olympic Committee, the media and the United Nations Security Council. The murderous Burmese military junta provided Australia with nearly 90% of its heroin, and
the Sydney "Opium Olympiad" with an exclusively Burman racist squad. In November 2000, feigning injury from international critique, the military junta, paying a fine of $28,000 withdrew Burma from the FIFA World Cup.