Pranking the Police With ‘The Flying Spliff™’

Simon Doherty
9 min readJul 14, 2021

Here’s what happens if you tie a spliff to a balloon, smoke it in front of the police and release the evidence to fly away in an attempt to m̶a̶k̶e̶ ̶s̶o̶m̶e̶ ̶f̶u̶n̶n̶y̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶t̶e̶n̶t, t̶h̶w̶a̶r̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶d̶r̶a̶c̶o̶n̶i̶a̶n̶ ̶d̶r̶u̶g̶ ̶l̶a̶w̶s, deliver an important social experiment.

Photo: Josh Eustace

I’ve always thought that the drug laws in the UK were pretty stupid, and not just because prohibiting substances massively increases its harms to both individual users and society as a whole. Not just because they are used to systematically discriminate against and marginalise certain societal subsets.

But because they just don’t make sense: After all, you can go up to a police officer and tell them that you’ve just nailed a line of ketamine the size of an overweight slug, but as long as you aren’t in possession of the drug they can’t do a thing.

So, to mark the 50 year anniversary of The War on Drugs, I decided to put this to the test: I rolled five joints, attached them to helium balloons and headed out into central London to find some police to smoke them in front of.

If I got into any trouble, I planned to release them into the sky and watch the evidence fly away — never to be seen again. Or, in other words, develop an adroit method of getting away with smoking green. That method, ladies and gentlemen, is The Flying Spliff™.

What would happen? There was a lottery of potential outcomes, but here’s what went down…

Photo: Josh Eustace

Like many ideas I’ve come up with in the past, I was drunk when I conceived the concept. At the time I didn’t think anything of smoking weed in front of a police officer. But now the reality was staring me in the face, on a sober Saturday morning, it was slightly less appealing. Nonetheless, I had a job to do. So seeing a couple of coppers in front of me, I lit a joint rigged up to a balloon and approached them.

I could see them looking around recognising the smell, so I walked right up to them and asked if they wanted to have a smoke with me.

There was a silence.

Simon Doherty

I’m a London-based writer and this is my blog. You can read my VICE articles here: