Seeing as you're reading this on the internet, you'll have undoubtedly been confronted at least once with the story that police are handing out cannabis-scented scratch and sniff cards in a bid to teach people what weed smells like. But this isn't just a playground giggle at the wacky baccy, it's so that sniffers with a newfound scent for skunk can report their neighbours if they suspect that they're growing it in their houses.
The question here is – once you've learned from the police what weed smells like, obviously – would you report your neighbour if you smelled it wafting out from under their door? Are you a snitch? A yellow-bellied tattle-tale? Or do you keep your mouth shut and let your neighbours get on with their own shit in the sanctity of their home? London, would you tell on your neighbours if you thought they were up to something illegal?
Yolis, marketing director: Yeah, I heard about those scratch-and-sniff cards on the radio. They sound pretty stupid to me.
Would you tell on your neighbour if you thought they were growing?
No, I don’t think so, I don’t think I'd really care, to be honest – its not harmful to me.
What level of crime would it have to be for you to report something?
If it had a personal effect on me, then I'd probably report them. If they were dealing huge amounts of drugs and there were people coming round the whole time, or something like that.
Would you be worried about retribution if you told the police on them? Or at least severe awkwardness?
I mean, if I had the feeling they had guns on their, then yeah, I guess I'd be pretty scared. But then there's a risk that if you let something go on you might be put in danger as well. It's pretty hard to weigh up. But if you're at risk of being hurt, then your safety must come first.
Asida, field engineer: Er, yeah, I think so, mate. Wouldn't you?
It depends what they were doing. Why would you report them?
Because they could cause damage to our lives as well their own, which isn't fair.
Yeah. What if they were doing some terrorist activity or something else illegal? It could put our lives in danger.
Mari, designer: Yes, definitely. Who wouldn’t?
Wouldn't you feel at risk if your neighbours knew that you told the police?
A little, but I feel like the neighbourhood would be far better and far safer in general if I told. So yeah, of course I'd tell the police.
Susan, designer: Well, I don’t know my neighbours at all, but it might change my opinion if I did.
What if you knew their house was filled top to bottom with weed?
I mean, if it doesn’t have any impact on me then it's not really of my business. In fact, I'm pretty much going to take the cowards way out and say it's not my problem.
What level of illegal activity would it have to be for you to report it?
If I thought someone was being directly hurt or there was domestic violence going on, then yeah, I think I'd say something.
That's a good approach.
Sarah, tourist: Are you serious? They're handing out smelly cards?
Yep. So would tell the police if you thought your neighbours were criminals or drug farmers?
That’s a good question. I'm from Canada, where we generally tend to be far more relaxed about pot, so I think it completely depends on the level of criminality. But if it was pot: no. If I thought they were murderers then maybe I'd do something.
That sounds about right.
Virginia, student: No.
I think there are a lot of problems that are more important than weed. For example, I live in this building that was one of the first theatres in London and I wanted to put on a little production there for my uni project to make people more aware of it, but my neighbours wouldn't let me do it. I had problems with that because it's stopping something cultural, but I wouldn't care about weed cultivation.
So drugs are fine but people not letting you put on amateur plays deserve to be reported to the police?
I mean, if my neighbour didn't have any money and was growing weed to sell to a hospital for medical use, that would be fine. Weed isn't a drug anyway – there are much worse things that the police should be concentrating on.
Okay, say your neighbours were selling guns – would you tell the police about that?
Yeah, but it always depends. If I think the case is bad and it's not going to cause me danger by telling other people, then yeah, I'd say something. But I think there are other people you should go to to sort it out rather than the police. I don’t know about here in the UK, but in Italy the police are not the best people to go to for crimes.