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The sweet smell of success? High hopes for new cannabis scratch and sniff cards rubbished by Mancunians

By Danielle Wainwright & Glen Keogh

Cannabis ‘scratch and sniff’ cards are due to be released in Greater Manchester as part of a campaign by charity Crimestoppers to tackle the war on drugs – prompting shock and ridicule from residents.

The cards will be given out to the public of certain counties in the UK in the hope that residents will be able to recognise the pungent pong if they are living close to a cannabis farm.

With the cards costing more than £50,000 of public money nationally, MM looked at the reactions from Greater Manchester to ask if the campaign reeks or if it really will help police investigations.

 “I saw this yesterday and had a massive rant about it, it’s unbelievable,” Ant Church, a creative designer from Burnage said.

The reaction to the plans has been met with shock by many who aren’t sure of the usefulness of teaching Manchester residents how to detect marijuana.

With 23,700 cards being posted out in Greater Manchester, it’s a huge investment for Crimestoppers to make, but one they believe will help catch criminals and cannabis cultivators in the long-term.

Social media was aghast at the plans. When MM asked for feedback over Twitter, Chris Taylor said: “Is this a wind up? I think it is a colossal waste of time and resources.”

Possible flaws in the campaign were also highlighted. Paul Sarge, 34, from Chorlton, said: “What happens if around 20% actually enjoy the smell then go on to purchase some, bad idea. [sic]”

However, Wigan residents won’t get to experience the fragrant post, as they are missing out on the scheme.

Taisie Wilson, a 24-year-old sales worker from Didsbury, said: “Utterly ridiculous! Are they saying more people will report it to the police? Half the people would be like, ‘hell yeah, supply won’t dry up for a while, thank the Lord’.

“What I’d like to know is where can I get the said cards and do they contain THC strong enough for any effects!?”

The public appear to oppose the idea to scratch and sniff drugs out of the UK’s largest cities, but other attempts to lower marijuana use, such as the re-classification from class C to class B, have failed.

Police forces across the UK seized more than one million marijuana plants, with an estimated value of over £200million between 2011 and 2012, and there was a 15% increase in cannabis farms.

Crimestoppers Director of Operations Roger Critchell is keen to gain more support and wants to involve the public in fighting the dealers who are threatening the streets.

He said: “We are distributing scratch and sniff cards because not many people know how to recognise the signs of cannabis cultivation happening in their neighborhood.

“Many are also not familiar with the established links between this crime and serious organised crime.”

This is not a view shared by Manchester drug experts and many others who have raised the issue of civilians being made to detect drug problems and bring them to the attention of the law.

Mike Linnell works at the Lifeline Project, a Manchester-based charity who work to prevent and reduce harm linked to alcohol and drug misuse.

He said: “The police have made it their priority in going for local weed production and you can’t argue with the reasons behind that.

“They’re trying to prevent accidents, increase safety and lessen fire hazards caused by people cultivating their own cannabis.

“But if you’re living next door to a weed farm you either smell it or you don’t.”

According to the Association of Chief Police Officers, about 800 cannabis plantations were uncovered in Greater Manchester between 2010 and 2012.

The other counties piloted in the scheme are West and South Yorkshire, London and Avon & Somerset which have all been identified as places with the highest number of cannabis farms in the UK.  

For more information please on the scheme visit www.crimestoppers-uk.org

Picture courtesy of M. Martin Vicente, with thanks.

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