The unmistakable scent of cannabis, referred to as the “Bristol fog,” has become a source of contention as complaints surge about the pervasive smell in various areas of the city. The issue recently gained attention during a meeting of the Downs committee on Monday, January 15, where worries were expressed by residents living near the Downs park area.
A representative from the Friends of the Downs and Avon Gorge (Fodag) mentioned a noticeable increase in cannabis use near the caravan encampment on Parrys Lane, part of the Downs park. According to the representative, “Fodag has received reports of a significant rise in the use of cannabis resin near the caravan encampment on Parrys Lane over the past few weeks. Neighbours claim they can unmistakably detect the potent and distinct odour linked to cannabis consumption.”
This situation has prompted residents near the affected area to voice their concerns, leading to discussions within the Downs committee. The Downs, situated in north Bristol, falls under the oversight of this committee.
An individual with a ceremonial role, who usually chairs the committee overseeing the parkland, acknowledged the prevalence of the cannabis odour in the city. “I detect that odour wherever I go in Bristol, unfortunately. It appears to be Bristol’s fog. I’ve even noticed it when I’ve had the windows open in the ceremonial office on College Green,” they remarked.
The issue of cannabis use is not a new one for Bristol and often surfaces around April during the yearly gathering at Castle Park to celebrate ‘420.’ In 2022, law enforcement authorities clarified that arrests for simple possession of cannabis would not be made during the event. Instead, their focus remained on targeting those involved in the supply of drugs.
The authorities emphasized their stance, stating, “Our focus is primarily on those who supply drugs. Individuals who come to our attention for simple possession of drugs will typically be directed to the drug education programme, with no criminal justice consequences.”
Despite ongoing police raids on local cannabis grows, reports of the distinctive cannabis smell persist. Cannabis remains readily available in Bristol, with users often partaking in the drug in public spaces, including parks and pub gardens.
Last year, a campaign was launched by law enforcement to raise awareness of the ‘hidden harm of cannabis farms in our communities.’ The campaign aims to educate the public on the potential dangers associated with cultivating cannabis illicitly.
As the debate on cannabis use continues to surface in Bristol, residents, local authorities, and law enforcement must grapple with finding a balance between public safety, individual freedoms, and the challenges posed by the widespread availability of the drug. The increasing number of complaints regarding the “Bristol fog” indicates a growing concern that demands thoughtful consideration and effective solutions from all stakeholders involved.