Insects Bring Cannabis Traffickers Out of The Wood Work

The Naked Scientists spoke to Kat Arney interviews Jack Ashby at the Grant Museum, London
18 December 2005

Interview with 

Kat Arney interviews Jack Ashby at the Grant Museum, London


Jack - This is a collection of insects that were found on a massive haul of cannabis captured in New Zealand. Some people were arrested and they said it was for personal consumption even though there were 188 kilograms of cannabis found. They said that they'd grown it themselves, which also got them round a few laws. What the forensic scientists did was went through the cannabis and found lots of insects in there. There were nine different insect species in total, and by identifying them, and working out where they live in the world, they could overlap the ranges and find out exactly where the cannabis was grown.

Kat - So what insects have we got here?

Jack - We've got lots of types of beetles, including rove beetles and darkling beetles. We also have some rice weevils and ground beetles.

Kat - So when they looked at where all these animals lived, what was their conclusion?

Jack - They found that all the insects lived in a very small area of Burma in South East Asia, which meant that the people had actually imported all the cannabis. So they were actually trafficking as well as being in possession of huge amounts of cannabis.

Kat - So not all for their personal use then.

Jack - No, not all.

Kat - Do insects eat cannabis?

Jack - Yes, a lot of animals eat plants, and cannabis is among them. I'm not sure if they get influenced by it though! I wouldn't know what a stoned beetle looks like!


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