The pre-publicity for next week’s programme ‘Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial’ has been nothing but a repeat of 1930s ‘Reefer Madness’. See ‘Jon Snow gets the inside dope on skunk’ for his commentary and a video.
It is tragic that respected journalists, Jon Snow and Matthew Paris, both of whom have been intelligent opponents of the disastrous drugs war, have been duped and manipulated into being used as sensationalist propaganda by an unscrupulous production company, Renegade Pictures. After Channel 4’s prejudicial and hate-mongering programme, Benefits Street, one would have hoped that its editors would have learned lessons and resolved to take a more responsible approach.
I have been in correspondence with Renegade Pictures, with UCL, which is responsible for ethical approval of the study and with Jon Snow. Today I have written to the Chief Executive of Channel 4.
124, Horseferry Road
Dear Mr Abraham,
Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial. Due for broadcast 3rd March 2015
There are compelling reasons why you should halt the broadcast of this programme in its present form. It is grossly irresponsible, deeply unethical and highly misleading.
I write as the elected leader of more than 320,000 supporters of cannabis law reform. CLEAR represents more people than all other UK drugs policy groups combined. I have made repeated attempts to engage with the producers of this programme, Renegade Pictures, but apart from one acknowledgement my correspondence has been ignored. This is an open letter which will be published on the CLEAR website.
A comprehensive complaint will be made to OFCOM if the programme is broadcast in its present form and I am already in touch with UCL on the question of ethics. At this stage I want to draw to your attention to conclusive evidence of the unethical basis of this programme.
The study being conducted by Professors Curran and Nutt is important science. However, it is not original and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It is well established in other research and widely understood that CBD moderates the psychoactive effects of THC.
The cannabis used in the programme is not ‘skunk’ as claimed, it is a ‘haze’ variety produced by Bedrocan BV, the Netherlands government official producer of medicinal cannabis. It is prescribed as medicine by doctors in Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Canada.
I would refer you to the Netherlands Office for Medicinal Cannabis, which regulates Bedrocan products. It publishes guidelines for medical professionals which can be seen here: BEDROCAN GUIDELINES
On using a vapouriser these state:
“Inhale a few times until the desired effect is reached or until psychological side-effects occur. Wait 5-15 minutes after the first inhalation and wait between inhalations.”
If you now observe the ludicrous overdose that Jon Snow and Matthew Paris were subjected to, you will understand how gravely irresponsible is the conduct of the programme’s producers.
Aside from the impact on the individuals concerned, this programme will present a highly misleading and false impression of the use of cannabis which millions of British people participate in every day.
I urge you to take prompt action and stop the broadcast of this programme in its present form.
Join The Campaign For Medicinal Cannabis On A Doctor’s Prescription.
Despite overwhelming evidence, the UK government insists that cannabis has “no medicinal value”. Present policy is deeply cruel and means that at least one million people in Britain are forced to become criminals in order to deal with their pain, suffering or disability.
We must change this dreadful and unjust policy. It’s time to help rather than persecute people who genuinely need cannabis to improve their health. DONATE HERE.
The AdVan Campaign.
CLEAR is the UK’s leading drugs policy reform group with more than 270,000 followers. We will run an AdVan for one week in central London during the busy pre-Christmas period. This will deliver the simple, direct message that you see above and it will be backed by a supporting PR campaign, lobbying of government ministers and MPs as well as further information on the CLEAR website.
Please donate whatever you can. Every pound makes a difference. We need to raise £3500 to run the AdVan for one week. If we raise more we will run it for longer. DONATE HERE.
Please Donate Now!
Our Simple And Reasonable Request To UK Government.
In 1998, GW Pharmaceuticals was granted a licence to grow cannabis and its cannabis oil medicine, Sativex, is now approved but doctors are prevented from prescribing it because it is so fantastically expensive.
The Dutch government approves a cannabis medicine called Bedrocan which provides exactly the same as Sativex at a tiny fraction of the price. Sativex costs between £375 – £560 per month. Bedrocan costs £35 – £95 per month.
All we ask is that if a doctor prescribes Bedrocan, the Home Office should issue an import licence. This is a narrow, tightly defined reform that will not encourage illicit use but will provide enormous help to some very poorly people. DONATE HERE.
Every year, thousands of medicinal cannabis users are prosecuted for possessing or growing cannabis. Often it is the only medicine that helps them with chronic pain, fibromyalgia, MS, Crohn’s disease, epilepsy, depression or many of the conditions related to aging. It is also used to mitigate the side effects of chemotherapy and HIV/Aids treatments.
In November 2014, the Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker resigned as a government minister because of the Conservatives’ refusal even to consider drugs policy reform. In July 2014 he met with members of CLEAR and publicly called for cannabis to be legalised for medicinal use. Other ministers are more concerned with stopping people getting high (which they are going to do anyway) than in helping those with severe medical conditions. DONATE HERE.
The madness of Queen Theresa is killing the British people.
She presides over a government that has succeeded in making alcohol stronger and more easily available, leading to the highest rate of liver disease in the world.
She sides with King Canute’s advisors in believing she can hold back the tide of demand for cannabis and ecstasy, drugs that are safely consumed by millions. Her deranged efforts to ‘ban them, ban them, ban them’ have led to the rise in ‘legal highs‘, far more dangerous, untested, unpredictable, sold at enormous profit without any control at all.
Now she’s desperately trying to shut the stable door that she opened . According to her bible, The Daily Mail, “More than 20 UK music festivals have banned the sale of ‘legal highs’ at their events this summer”.
The only sensible advice if you’re going to a festival this year is beer and wine in moderation but stick to the safe stuff. Cannabis has never killed anyone, neither has LSD. About 25 deaths have been attributed to ‘E’ but that’s with about 500,000 doses taken every weekend for 30 years.
So roll a spliff (tobacco free), maybe pop a pill or two. Stay safe.
Sure, it’s a lightweight comedy but it manages to weave in a few very valuable home truths that will delight anyone who supports the cannabis campaign. For those who are torrentially aware it’s very easy to find. This is how it starts and this gives a good idea of what’s to come:
“Beautiful. Isn’t it?
But listen. You hear it?
I hear it in my nightmares. That’s the sound of the Feds working their unmanned drones, spending more money trying to shut us down than they did searching for Osama Bin Laden.
42 billion spent in the war on pot. 140 bucks from every one of you to fight a little green herb made by God that grows in the sun.
And God doesn’t make mistakes.”
Rebecca Smith, health editor and Martha Gill, blogger, both of the Daily Telegraph have been getting a hard time in the comment threads of the pieces they published on cannabis yesterday and deservedly so.
Rebecca Smith is by far the worst offender, publishing such gross distortions of the study she was reporting on that I have submitted a complaint to the Press Complaints Commission. It’s dreadful that someone granted the title of health editor can be so casually ignorant of science, evidence and ready to mix up her opinion and wild speculation with just a smidgin of fact here and there. Incidentally, I expect no satisfaction from the PCC. Three years and nearly 100 complaints show that it is a deeply corrupt organisation that acts only in the interests of the press to find excuses for breaches of the Editors’ Code. Its nothing to do with protecting readers from inaccurate, misleading and distorted reporting.
Martha Gill does a bit better because she points out what a vacuous and meaningless piece of research Rebecca Smith has made such a fuss about. But Martha, apparently, writes for the New Statesman on ‘neuroscience and politics’. She’s entitled to her political views, which are self-evident given the publication concerned but on neuroscience, the clue is in the third and fourth syllables. It’s science, not opinion and Martha is woefully out touch with the evidence. If she’s not careful she”ll grow up into a mumsy moraliser like Libby Purves or Lowri Turner. She should try reading Professor Gary Wenk, Professor David Nutt, Professor Les Iversen, Professor Peter Jones, Professor Terrie Moffitt or Professor Roger Pertwee. They and many others could give her a grounding in the neuroscience of cannabis: it’s almost undetectable toxicity, its powerful antioxidant and neuroprotective qualities, its anxiolytic and antipsychotic effects. Her sweeping statement that “cannabis bad for you” is simply wrong. For most adults, in moderation, it’s beneficial.
Martha is also detached from reality and distant from the evidence, as is all of Fleet Street, when it comes to the risks of cannabis. The endless screeds that are written about the risks of cannabis use correlating with schizophrenia or psychosis are ridiculous when you consider the evidence. Hickman et al, 2009, a review of all published research so, by definition, not cherry picked, shows the risk of lifetime cannabis use correlating with a single diagnosis is at worst 0.013% and probably less than 0.003%. By contrast, correlation between cigarette smoking and schizophrenia is 80% – 90% (Zammit et al, 2003) but when do you ever read that in a newspaper?
I’m sorry you’re getting a hard time Rebecca and Martha but you and the ‘capos’ of the Fleet Street Mafia need to realise that people have had enough of your bad science, sensationalism and scaremongering about cannabis. The internet means we can’t be bullied and misinformed by newspapers anymore which is why your circulation is plummeting and journalists are held in ever lower esteem. We know you’ve spent years supporting Big Booze with its £800 million pa advertising budget. Obviously it’s desperate to hang on to its monopoly of recreational drugs but if you want to stay in business you’re going to have to start treating readers with respect and with facts and evidence, not baloney.
The Daily Telegraph has become a broadsheet-sized tabloid since it broke the MPs expenses scandal and it is genuinely difficult to distinguish its headlines, writing and content from The Daily Mail these days.
Of course, there’s a lot of rubbish in comment threads but there’s also a lot that’s better informed and considered than in the articles themselves.
People like cannabis, they find it effective, they know it’s safe. 5% of the population uses it regularly. That’s three times as many people as go to Catholic Church regularly.
Expect to be pulled to bits if you try to go back to bad science and reefer madness hysteria. The world has moved on.
I stood as a candidate for CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform in the 2012 Corby by-election. At the count I had the pleasure of speaking to Nigel on a number of occasions. He was nipping out to the car park for a cigarette and I was letting my dogs out of my car for a wee.
We got on very well and I found him truly charming and genuine. We talked about many things but of course I asked him about his views on cannabis. He agreed that present policy is “Barmy!” and that “Of course we should!” adopt a legalise, tax and regulate policy.
The really extraordinary thing about Nigel expressing these views is that they are unpopular with most UKIP supporters. That marks him out as a very rare thing in UK politics – a man of true integrity.
NHS Choices published an article today that represents a sea change in attitudes towards cannabis.
Finally, it seems, the facts and evidence seem to be getting through, even in Britain. Cannabis is close to a miracle plant, closely intertwined with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system, providing nurture, therapy and healing for many illnesses and promoting good health and wellbeing.
Of course, like anything, even water, it is not without the potential for harm. It is habit forming, about as much as coffee. Children shouldn’t be using it, just as they shouldn’t be drinking double espressos. The madness that is current policy causes far more harm than it prevents. We need to get the dealers off the streets, regulate and control the market properly and start allowing the people of Britain to benefit from the plant they have been denied for too long.
I understand why the giant intellects of our legal profession resent this man who is the first non-lawyer in 340 years to be appointed to the exalted role of Lord Chancellor.
It would be fair to say that his record as a shadow minister and then Minister of State for Employment is mediocre at best. He is not a justice minister in the relatively liberal style of Kenneth Clarke. A ‘hardliner’ they call him. He channels the ‘something of the night‘ that defined his former colleague Michael, now Lord Howard. He certainly fits with the idea of the Tories being the ‘nasty party’.
There are few more unsympathetic, merciless and intolerant members of parliament. It’s not clear what other qualities he has that have earned his high office. No surprise then that his opinion on cannabis should be as bigoted and vacuuous as he demonstrated this week.
“I’ve always taken the view that the medical reasons for not going down that road are pretty compelling. I’ve talked to many doctors over the years who have highlighted the links between cannabis use and mental health problems.”
Source: Wales Online
He’s simply repeating the government’s tired and false propaganda.
The links between cannabis use and mental health problems are tenuous to say the least. Despite a massive worldwide increase in cannabis use since the 1960s, rates of psychosis and schizophrenia are declining.
The scare stories and myths promoted by the tabloid press do not stand up to investigation. The facts of NHS hospital admissions and the National Drug Treatment Monitoring Service (inconveniently for government propagandists and tabloid editors) show that cannabis is a very small contributor to mental health problems, insignificant in public health terms.
The real reason Grayling and his cabinet colleagues want to continue the ban on cannabis is that they fear the consequences of legalisation on the alcohol industry which, as we know, successive governments just roll over for in dutiful compliance.
The ban on cannabis has never had anything to do with health concerns. It’s about vested interests and corrupt and weak politicians. The truth is people like Grayling don’t give a damn about the terrible toll that alcohol takes on our society. They care not one jot for the liberty of the individual or the hundreds of thousands who are criminalised fro using cannabis as medicine.
Grayling has never been the sharpest knife in the kitchen cabinet but at least he can be relied on to toe the party line. This is the true worth of most of our cabinet ministers.