Tabloids Addicted To Drug Speak

Tabloids Addicted To Drug Speak

We are always scouring the local airwaves for Dagga related news to share. It’s difficult to find any regional heartwarming stories, Cannabis business news or product innovation, as in the international news feeds.
Rarely is there anything more than another ‘bust’ by the Hawks ‘swooping’ on their pray and ‘nabbing’ the ‘dealers’ ‘red-handed’ by a multi-disciplinary intelligence collecting team comprising the Hawks, Tactical Response Teams, Crime Intelligence (and probably the local K9 unit for good measure.)

All this is a tabloid euphemism for ‘some miserable fucker snitched on their neighbour’.

Dealers being swooped upon and nabbed. It sounds like an archaic form of olde English, unused in any other situation. The only other time the word ‘dealer’ is generally used is either in a card game or perhaps to describe a second hand car salesman. Most other purveyors of merchandise are either shopkeepers, vendors or merchants.

Curiously, the police are also quick to point out the ‘street value of’ the bust. The more the ‘street value’, the more importance attached to the arrests.  This strange obsession with an arbitrary monetary value suggests to us that the most serious aspect of the crime was failing to declare all that money though the State fiscus.
All that tax free moola seems to be an awful problem for the Hawks with their addiction to the ‘street value of’ and nothing, except illicit ‘drugs’, has a street value.
Cars don’t. Houses don’t. street vendor food doesn’t.
As can be seen from the meme on the left, everything about the reported figures of a Dagga bust are contrived and just serve to increase the sensationalising of illicit drugs in general.
The more the money, the heavier the crime and the more ruthless the perpetrators seems to be the train of thought.
Then there are the sensational descriptions of what the cops found after all that swooping, nabbing and busting. The more exotic the words, the more evil the perpetrators are portrayed to be.
Anyone busted with a hydroponic Dagga lab is objectified as being hundreds of times more evil than a regular Dagga boer with a couple of plants in the back yard.

Pretty much 100% of the time, the weed isn’t hydroponic, it just happens to be under lights in a sealed room. That grow room has become a tabloid induced laboratory, an evil place for ruthless people to prey on the helpless. Sometimes these labs are hilariously hydrophonic and are obviously the breeding grounds for ‘superweed’, destined for school playgrounds and ‘youth abuse’.

That’s another word that cops use with regular monotony. Abuse. Anyone who has ever put a spliff to their lips is a substance abuser in the eyes of the police. This again implies something that isn’t and is uncritical, demeaning and hostile. If the tabloids or the cops describe someone as a drug abuser, it is easy to conjure up an image of a person that does nothing but abuse drugs as their sole purpose in life. A less loaded description is to describe an individual as having a ‘substance use disorder’. A phrase that perhaps forms an image of a person who has a drug use problem, but is still a functioning member of society, loved by family and friends.
Such a phrase would never make it into a tabloid report. Druggies, junkies and abusers are good for news it seems, especially if they get swooped on and busted with a ‘Dagga lab’.

We can tell you, after years of  answering Join The Queue’s Dagga Arrest Helpline, those people caught with an indoor grow are treated more harshly by the police than someone with a few plants in their backyard. Eight years ago when the cops swooped, nabbed and busted us in our home, they held us captive until daybreak so they could check our smallholding for a lab. Swooping upon and busting a functioning Dagga lab is as good as a promotion, especially if the cops call the local news station on the way. It is their jobs to generate another half baked, shoddily penned provincial news article that invariably makes its way to the Twitter tabloid circuit as sensationalism.

All this begs the question, what is going to happen to the swooping, the busting, the nabbing and the tabloid speak when cannabis is decriminalised and eventually legalised in South Africa? Who or what will become the subject of society’s derision and subjugation? Sugar? Codeine? Tobacco?
The disturbing new Tobacco Law being tabled in SA parliament right now, has introduced jail time as a punishment for all those nicotine addicts who use their drugs in an unauthorised place.

‘Hawks Swoop on Illegal Tobacco Lab; Nab Drug Kingpin’ is a headline we may well get used to seeing when tobacco prohibition kicks in as a result of this draconian new Bill.

Personally, we’ll watch with great interest from our couch. Let’s see how other abusers of more socially acceptable drugs cope when they are swooped on, nabbed, busted and treated like dogs for their choice of substance (ab)use.



  1. enrico fletzer September 25, 2018 at 8:55 am - Reply

    your article is very good and we could launch a rehabilitation course for Journalists that have in many country pass through some revamping procedurese.My self included… But I have a question…Is it true that according to the new law draft nicotine addicts could be in some case jailed..If what you have written is not true you all beautiful article would collapse…So can you confirm that since I have to check the data! All the best and good luck for your courageous and just initiatives!

    • Myrtle Clarke September 27, 2018 at 10:52 am - Reply

      Hi Enrico,
      Looking forward to you coming to SA for the “Journalism Rehab Course”, we have 1000s who need to attend!
      Yes, we are very concerned about the new proposed Tabacco Bill and its criminal sanctions. Illegal cigarettes almost brought down our revenue service (SARS) and this type of legislation is exactly the example we need to prove that over regulation is almost as bad as prohibition.
      Prof Nutt was invited to SA to speak about nicotine harm reduction and they are ignoring his advice that ecigarettes are a safe and effective harm reduction tool.
      Would love you to write an article about the proposed bill so let’s discuss via email.

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