Not sure whether to laugh or cry? From Bill Chappell, at NPR:
A fire aboard a cargo ship in the Mediterranean Sea was set in order to get rid of 30 tons of hashish, according to officials in Italy and Malta.
Yikes. Talk about the “high seas.” The details are also illuminating:
…in addition to the official boats that responded, a number of civilian craft also arrived at the scene.
I bet. With 30 tons of hash blazing away, every stoner with an outboard would be skimming the waves at flank speed to catch a few lungfuls, not to mention those simply curious to see what kind of Olympian bacchanal could produce that level of secondhand smoke.
Thirty tons of hashish is a lot of dope. By our rough reckoning, it is equivalent to 100,000,000 hash joints, or enough to keep Amsterdam in low earth orbit for at least a year. And with an estimated street value of $400 million, it’s also enough to get some people — people with notoriously poor senses of humor — really pissed off. According to the article:
…the ship’s nine crew members spotted the approaching government boats and started a fire on the Gold Star before jumping overboard. All were rescued and arrested, officials say.
I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Never mind the criminal consequences of being found in uncomfortably close proximity to 30 tons of blazing tetrahydrocannabinol — imagine instead the size of the enterprise capable of collecting, refining, fabricating and shipping a cargo of hash the sizes of a couple of Greyhound buses. I may be mistaken, but what immediately comes to mind are grim-visaged folk with turbans and a lot of heavy artillery. And when they get around to dealing with this kind of screwup, my guess is that heads will roll. Here I do not speak figuratively.
But there is another thought that cannot escape our attention. Here is one freighter, plying its lonely way across the Mediterranean, pushed down to its Plimsoll line by 30 tons of psychedelic cargo, brought to grief by who knows what. Someone talked; that is a certainty. But how many others glide silently by the unsuspecting eyes of the intrepid agents of the global war against drugs? How many tons of hashish, of other substances less romantic but more deadly, are afloat on the waterways of our aqueous planet?
A lot. After all these years of wars on drugs, all we have succeeded in doing is to raise the price of what cannot be suppressed to a level sufficiently irresistible to justify the risks its traffic entails. And who profits? Mullah Omar, still lurking somewhere in a dark cavern. In the war on drugs, the warlords prosper.
In the land of the blind, the one-eyed is king.