OCT 00] SPA CENTRE REVIEW - HOWARD MARKS
Mr Nice Gets The Joint Giggling
drug dealer Howard Marks rolled up in Leamington last night, and
there wasnít a Tory shadow cabinet minister in sight.
one-time mastermind of a cannabis smuggling network has taken
his life story to the stage, and entertained all with tales of
includes pretending to be a member of the Mexican Secret Service
to explain away being caught with tonnes of hashish.
smuggling career, which spanned decades, seems to have ended
when he got busted in America, and was in prison for several
in his mid-50s, Marks has spent his freedom smoking cannabis and
trying to find ways to get the drugs legalised.
quite a funny tale, including his account of his application to
be appointed Tony Blairís Drugs Czar, and a hilarious stint
with a fez on his head as he explains why cannabis came to be
illegal in the first place.
delivery is droll. He stands for the most part and drawls into
the microphone in a deep Welsh accent, no doubt enriched by
years of herbal infusion in his throat. Shut your eyes and it
sounds a bit like Ivor the Engine, but more scary.
on by an adoring crowd, most of whom were too young to remember
his Old Bailey trials, he demonstrated his belief in cannabis by
lighting a joint on stage, and he starts giggling.
problem is, as he explains, is that the police wonít arrest
him. Thereís no reason to prosecute him Ė he stands to lose
nothing except his freedom and even that doesnít bother him.
tried to get arrested by walking into police stations and
lighting up. They leave him alone because they know who he is.
It isnít known if he tried this in Leamington police station
100 yards away last night.
a result of all this, he has become something of a god for the
cannabis-smoking population. Itís a bit surreal to see them in
the Royal Spa Centre, plaques proclaiming civic splendour all
the main bar outside the auditorium shut, and the crowd queuing
patiently for cups of tea before going back in for the second
half, it felt more like a setting for a political meeting was
there were many more people there, and they were young. Ann
Widdecombe take note.
Marks isnít against her stance. He agrees that if there is a
law, it should be enforced. It just so happens that he believes
shouldnít be a law in this case.
hope the whiff clears before Dickie Bird rolls his very
different juggernaut into town on Saturday.