Sowing Seeds with Howard Marks

6a01156fa075f4970c0162ffd8689f970d2Described as ‘the most sophisticated drugs baron of all time’, Howard Marks admits he has never actually grown any plants.  “Well, I did try to grow marijuana once in the 70’s, during the Miner’s Strike,” he admits, “Some friends came across some chemicals that were supposed to improve the growth.  They made the plants into good rope but useless dope, so I’ve never bothered since.

“I’ve never had to grow my own,” he laughs, “People always ask me for tips on growing marijuana but the truth is I haven’t a clue although I am sincerely interested in the finished product.  I’ve never grown it but I’ve smuggled loads and I belong to a company that produces seeds for sale wherever its legal to do so, called Mr Nice Seed Bank.

A lot of people I speak to, have actually got into growing marijuana through botany. They know a lot more about it than I do.”

The laid back Welshman continues, “I don’t like gardening but I do like the fresh air and spend quite a bit of time outdoors in the course of my travelling. I often visit gardens and parks and would much rather walk through a park or public garden than along the street.  Apart from my obvious favourite plant, I have always liked rhododendrons; they are the first exciting flower I remember noticing. I like snowdrops too as they’re the first you notice in the year, or they used to be until it all got  f***ed up.  I like daffodils too but I think that’s just the link with Wales.”

Howard is obviously very fond of Wales and is back here often.  “I’m back twice this week ,” he shares, “my favourite place still has to be Kenfig Hill, where I was brought up, for nostalgic reasons but I think the further west you go the more interesting it gets. My second favourite place is Dinas Island which is why it features strongly in my crime fiction novel ‘Sympathy for the Devil’.

Despite a lack of interest in gardening, “I don’t have a garden at my home in Leeds and if I did, it would be a wild one and my garden in Kenfig Hill varies between being immaculately landscaped and a tropical jungle depending if I’ve had anyone in to do it,” Howard does admit to being fanatical about the things he does enjoy. “It only usually lasts about a week but that’s usually long enough to learn something new.  I learned how to play Bowls, attracted by the fact that it was made illegal in the 16th Century.  There were only two sports then, archery and bowls.  Archery was considered to be OK as it encouraged the British to fire arrows into the French but as there was no destructive element in Bowls, it was made illegal in England for 400 years.”

“I tried golf when I came out of prison in 1982 but didn’t enjoy it. Swinging a club is an unnatural movement and the social side is a bit dubious too, though I did enjoy getting p***ed after the game.”
“I don’t like zoos either,” he adds randomly, “it’s to do with being caged up; I’m not keen.”

It’s precisely this natural humour which makes Howard addictive to listen to and makes ‘An Audience with Mr Nice’ so popular.

You can enjoy more of Howard’s tales at Porth on the 21st January, Newport on the 27th, Monmouth on the 4th February and Narberth on the 17th March. For more details on Tour dates, and details of his books visit or pop into

Are you a dope or did you know?
Cannabis sativa is considered to be one of the most recognizable plant in the world and  is believed to be a native plant of India, where it possibly originated in a region just north of the Himalayan mountains.
It’s a herbaceous annual that can grow to a height of between 13 and 18 feet (4 to 5.4 meters).

There are reports of a nearly 3,000-year-old Egyptian mummy containing traces of THC, the main psychoactive chemical in marijuana.

The stalk of the marijuana plant comprises of two parts, the hurd and the bast. The bast provides fibres (also called hemp) that can be woven to create clothing and even canvas and has been used to make ship sails for centuries.

Paper and oil to make paints and varnishes is made from the hurd. Marijuana plants also produce a high-protein, high-carbohydrate seed that is used in granola and cereals.

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