Some Thoughts on the Legality of Being Self-Sufficient

I think that we would all agree that ‘being self-sufficient’ does not include stealing other people’s possessions. Thus, if you had a wood-burning stove, you could perfectly legitimately collect wood from your own garden and burn it in your stove. You can’t raid other people’s gardens, without permission, and steal their wood, even if that wood would just rot away otherwise.

Thereby, as an aside, just as a matter of interest, when my daughter and her husband moved South because of his job, they rented a terraced cottage. The cottage was one of about four, which probably were originally built to house workers on the estate adjoining them. Surrounding the cottages were quite extensive woods. A perk of the inhabitants of the cottages was the ‘right’ to collect wood from the wooded areas in their vicinity for firewood, and she and her husband still had that right while they lived in the cottage. Funny, isn’t it, how some of these ancient rights survive? But perhaps it is not so odd – of what value would the dead branches be to the landowner? Only if he closed the rights of way in the woods would it matter.

But I think that few people would deny that individuals have the absolute human right to be as self-sufficient as possible, if they so wish. They can have fruit trees and grow cabbages, if they wish. At the other end of the scale, they can have private health insurance, for example, and thereby get faster treatment if needed. As long as people can pay for health treatments separately from the NHS waiting lists, then it is not possible to deny the right of ‘self-sufficiency’.

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Suppose that I buy some black grapes from the supermarket. They are ‘raw alcohol’, are they not? OK, perhaps not in the state of grapes. You might liken that state to green leaves taken taken from a tobacco plant.

You follow some procedure gained from the internet, and squash the grapes to get the juice out, then you add sugar, and then you heat that solution and then you add yeast and let it develop. You do what is necessary and finish up with a fine wine (?).

Should you pay duty on that wine? There is no law that says that you must, nor is there a law which prohibits your actions. You could offer to pay the duty, but you would be ignored. There is no process. Why is there no process? The fact is that any attempt to collect such duty would be horribly costly and inefficient. Collection would cost more than the income.

So why is making your own wine or beer not prohibited? Well,  at least one argument would be that the raw materials are just too readily available, and any small scale production is simply not worth the effort of chasing after.

So why do the authorities not just pass a law banning making your own wine and beer, and leave it at that, just because they can do? Enforcement would not be required. Making such activities illegal would be frightening, and that would be enough. We are going in some peculiar directions. Laws banning this or that would not need penalties and no one would be prosecuted for disobeying. However, attacks by zealots on transgressors would be tolerated.

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Dried tobacco plant leaves are ‘agricultural produce’ in EU parlance. Thus, other things being equal, a farmer in the UK could grow several acres of tobacco plants, harvest the leaves, cure them and export them to other EU countries – without duty.

Can you see why Customs (or rather, tobacco control in Customs) is writhing about trying to find a way around the ‘agricultural produce’ EU rules? They want to inflict requirements upon importers of leaf to do their work – chase criminals. They want to create rules which would require importers to ensure that recipients of leaves PROVE that they are not going to use the leaves for prohibited purposes.

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Do you see what is going on?

The fact is that THERE ARE NO PROHIBITED PURPOSES for yourself alone. The Zealots in Tobacco Control sneaked in a regulation into a Finance Act that required ‘tobacco products’ to be produced only in approved factories. Erm… Yes, provided that there is some sort of large scale.

Which is why I come back to self-sufficiency.

Why is it that, as far as I know, no one has ever been prosecuted for making their own fags? Indeed, as I recall, Smoking Hot et al wrote to Customs asking how duty could be paid, but received no reply.

Here is the important thing. Customs seem to want a declaration from importers, even to the lowest extent (a person who buys a couple of kilos per an), that they supply only for ‘approved’ purposes. Or rather, AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT, that they do not supply for un-approved purposes. And yet, there is no definition of un-approved purposes.

Thus, it would be perfectly correct for me to buy leaf and say that I intend to process the stuff to make my own cigs (to be self-sufficient). WHAT LAW PROHIBITS IT?

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My thinking on this matter revolves around the idea that people can buy tobacco products anywhere in the EU and bring into the UK as much as they like for personal consumption and as gifts. Having been to Prague, I know that I can buy fags at a price of £2.50 for 20. The price in Bulgaria is similar for recognised brands. Mind you, there is no reason to believe that the ‘recognised brands’ are not counterfeit.

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But the important thing, which has not been considered, is the right of people to import dried leaves “for personal consumption”. If tobacco products can be imported ‘for personal consumption‘ at the rate of duty in the Country of origin, why should not people import leaves for personal consumption? 

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If there is one important thing in the EU which needs to be blasted, it is the totalitarian idea that ‘one size fits all’. The idea is ‘totalitarian’. The imposition is ‘fascist’.

 

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