05 August 1999 14:30 GMT
Marks has led an extraordinary life. Born into the sleepy valleys
of Wales he somehow found himself living the slackers life at Oxford
in the late sixties. The academic life, although he bluffed his
way through, wasn't really for him. From there, and his own liking
for smoking, he drifted into the world of drug trafficking. You
can't help but feel, especially after reading his autobiography,
Mr Nice, that he really was as the title suggests; just an ordinary
Joe who ended up scoring for his friends world-wide on the grandest
will always be a demand for the relatively harmless cannabis plant
in it's various forms, and Howard was merely providing a service
and making a few bob for himself. Quite why he should be pursued
across the globe with a mind-boggling determination by DEA officers
painted as cruel and vindictive by Howard is open to debate.
determination to stop Howard and his contemporaries from operating
merely welcomed the organised crime element to feast on the rotting
corpse of prohibition that successive governments around the world
have created and allowed to prosper.
higher profits soon ensured that the nasty, violent criminal element
that had traditionally been involved in 'hard' drugs entered the
chain that ended with the casual spliff toker who would unwind at
the end of the day with a cool little number. Despite the harsher
penalties and tough talk from governments like our present New Labour
the drugs problem continues to spiral. But is the Government listening
to its people? The government actually delayed the publication of
the latest World Health Organisation report on cannabis use and
effects. We can only assume that they didn't want us to know that
cannabis has been confirmed as having only beneficial effects -
ask any MS sufferer who's tried it. All the old misconceptions are
gradually falling away. That old chestnut about leading you on to
harder drugs has finally been scotched by the Dutch model, where
an ageing, dwindling junkie population now exists since decriminalisation.
government was voted in because the people of our country wanted
change. It promised to be a reforming government that would undo
some of the evils of Thatcherism that has blighted many ordinary
people's lives. Sadly it seems that Tory Blur and Co. aren't listening.
They will though; when even such straight-laced conservative organs
as my local evening snoozepaper start running articles that reflect
the changing attitude towards cannabis you can guarantee that sooner
or later the New Labour spin-doctors and Focus Groups will sit up
and take notice. Meanwhile millions of normal people in this country
will relax with an extremely pleasant natural herb cigarette, regardless
of what the law says.
Stick that in your pipe and smoke
it Tony - and don't forget to inhale.
Kool had a quick chat with Howard
via the wonders of e-mail. This is what he had to say:
been through so much over the years. Do you have any regrets, and
would you do it all again?
I have a few regrets. The main one is risking my wife's
incarceration. I had no idea I was doing this. So, I suppose the
real regret is not knowing enough about American law before breaking
it. I would certainly do it all again, but I'd be tempted to leave
out the bad bits.
you ever have contact with Craig Lovato, and have you ever forgiven
him for how he treated you?
No. There's nothing to forgive. He's like any other DEA agent, and
like all Americans, best ignored.
Will you ever get involved with politics again, in view of the raised
profile that you have at the moment?
Probably, but I don't want to be a politician because almost all
of them are utterly insincere.
Do you think the decriminalisation or legalisation of cannabis will
ever happen in England, and if so in what timescale?
One day for sure, but not during the present term of the Labour
What do you think of Tony Blair's governments handling of the drugs
issue ie the Jack Straw farce, and the lack of openness or debate
of it by Ministers? (I gather all ministers are currently told by
party spin-doctors not to discuss the drug issue).
Sinister, vile and offensive.
Do you think Tony Blair has ever smoked a spliff - after all he's
supposed to be young and trendy and played guitar in a band so there
has to be a good chance!
Clearly not one strong enough to make him think.
I get the impression that you are against 'hard' drugs as you never
smuggled them. Do you have any stance on hard drugs or do you consider
them to be a completely separate issue from cannabis?
HM: I support the legalisation
of all drugs, but I rarely use anything other than cannabis.
What advice have you given your own children on drugs, if any?
HM: To know as much as possible
about the drug before taking it.
Are you going to collaborate with the Super Furry Animals again
in the future?
HM: I would think so, but there
are no definite plans at the moment.
Have you got any message for Kool readers about life or drugs?
HM: Stay high! Take care,
Howard Marks Interview by Billy Bulldog