Archive for the ‘The Media’ Category
Some people think the BBC is right wing and others think it’s run by a bunch of commie subversives. Personally I’d say it’s soft left, mumsy, pro-status quo. It supports the establishment and that means it’s always been negative about cannabis. If it isn’t joining in the demonisation of us – the three million psychotic axe murderers that use cannabis regularly in the UK – then it takes a jokey, sarcastic, snide angle.
So the release of a short news video report today ‘Can cannabis oil cure serious diseases like cancer?’ is a big step forward. Even better, it’s fronted by Alastair Leithead, a credible, intelligent journalist, not by some ‘celebrity doctor’ or the ‘addiction expert’ Professor John Marsden, who presented the disgraceful and misleading ‘America’s Stoned Kids’ in 2012, where he tried to pin adolescents with cannabis problems on Colorado’s legalisation even though it hadn’t even come into force at the time.
Mark my words, this is a step change, a seminal moment.
Perhaps, at last, the UK media will start treating medicinal cannabis seriously as has been happening in America and Australia for many years. We’ve already seen some local newspapers publishing intelligent articles and the Daily Mail has jumped on the bandwagon of sensationalist stories about treating childhood epilepsy. All we need now is The Times, The Guardian and the Sundays to give it the attention it deserves. The Daily Telegraph has become the new home of ‘reefer madness’, with appalling distortion of science, more tabloid than a tabloid. But we don’t need it anymore, it’s made itself irrelevant.
So watch this short video. It includes interviews with Kat Arney of Cancer Research UK, a woman who is cancer free after rejecting chemotherapy and only using cannabis oil and a sceptical Professor David Agus, who is entirely correct that there is no credible scientific evidence yet available that cannabis cures cancer.
It’s coming though. CLEAR is about to publish the most comprehensive, up to date paper ‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’. A leading pharmacologist is about to publish a paper supporting a move of cannabis from schedule one to schedule two and various clinical trials are coming to fruition.
All the more reason to be optimistic that the next Parliament will have no option but to introduce long-overdue reform.
DAILY MAIL: “…senior BBC boss claims ‘Clarkson is like Savile'”
OK, well it is the Daily Mail, so until there’s some corroboration we should be cautious about believing it. However, if there is even an iota of truth in it then the ‘BBC boss’ must be sacked. That’s sacked, not ‘allowed to resign’ or ‘retire’. He or she must be summarily dismissed without compensation.
This could also be the chance to exceed the record libel award in the High Court. What can be more defamatory in 2015 than comparing someone to the bogey man to end all bogey men, Jimmy Savile?
I really think this is the end for the BBC now. Relentless incompetence, far too many wildly overpaid apparatchiks. A culture of a soft left, pro status quo, subservient to orders from ministers and civil servants, however much it might protest its faux independence from government. My personal grudge: the craven censorship even of any debate on drugs policy.
As for Jezza, it amazes me how so many people don’t understand that he is in the business of satire and irony. Either they’re dumb, ‘frigid feminist PC bigots’ (Jezza would be proud of me) or they are lacking in any humour or intelligent understanding of the self-parody that is Jeremy Clarkson. He’s a hoot and he deserves the support he has gained from ‘probably the fastest growing petition ever in the history of the world’
Of course, if he hit someone then he should be subject to disciplinary and possibly criminal process. On the other hand, if it was a minor fracas and argument between colleagues then the BBC is guilty once again of dreadful misjudgement.
I greatly admire the BBC’s output and it has been a wonderful training ground for our richest talent in film, TV and radio but it is now time for it to be broken up. We won’t lose the talent or the high quality creative and production skills but we must lose the dishonest culture, sense of entitlement and attitudes that belong to a bygone era.
What is this ‘hash’ that looks like weed and this ‘skunk’ that isn’t cannabis?
Channel 4’s ‘Drugs Live:Cannabis On Trial‘ played fast and loose with facts, terminology and ethical considerations.
To be fair, I greatly enjoyed the programme (well I would wouldn’t I) and there was some fascinating science. Particularly about how the brain responds to music when you’re high and about how CBD protects the ‘salience network’, the key to motivation. This gives weight to the theory of an ‘amotivational syndrome’.
In a week’s time though, all that most of the public will remember is Jon Snow saying that using ‘skunk’ was more terrifying than being in a war zone and his distorted reporting of the recent study by which he implied that 25% of people who use ‘skunk’ will become psychotic.
So I am left with very mixed feelings. The pre-publicity was a disgrace: inaccurate, misleading, unethical – words I have already published and I stand by them.
The brazen misuse of the terms ‘skunk’ and ‘hash’ is an appalling error of judgement by Channel 4, Renegade Pictures and yes, sadly, by two scientists for whom I have the greatest of respect: Professors Val Curran and David Nutt.
Why would you choose to use the same word as the gutter press chooses to demonise cannabis? ‘Skunk’ is a scary word and what it really means is a sativa dominant strain with a modest THC content of 8% and only traces of CBD.
As for hash, it also has a specific meaning: the compressed resin, derived from the plant by sieving or by hand rubbing. By definition a more concentrated form of cannabis, yet the programme claimed exactly the opposite.
A far better, more accurate, more scientific and informative shorthand would have been to describe the cannabis as low CBD, high CBD and placebo.
Surely, whether we agree or disagree with their evidence, we are entitled to expect precision and accuracy from scientists?
The fundamental problem with this programme was that there were no cannabis experts present, only detached academics and scientists or cannabis users who were hardly well informed or articulate. I did of course volunteer but for some reason the producers saw fit to exclude anyone from the cannabis campaign or anyone who has both in depth knowledge and real experience.
Unfortunately, this programme will go the same way as all those other earnest endeavours, ‘The Union’, ‘The Culture High’, ‘In Pot We Trust’, etc – all very enjoyable, self-affirming and satisfying but all preaching to the choir. I’ll be interested to see what the viewing figures were for last night’s programme.
The best bit was David Nutt’s final conclusion. On his scale of harms, even low CBD cannabis (the demon ‘SKUNK’) is less harmful than alcohol, heroin, crack, meth, cocaine, tobacco and speed. After the study he concludes that high CBD cannabis is the least harmful drug of all.
Fight back against Channel 4’s war on cannabis.
‘Drugs Live:Cannabis‘ is a massive fraud perpetrated on the British people by a broadcaster that places cheap and dishonest scaremongering above its duty for truth and balance.
I expect the programme itself to be balanced and probably reach the correct conclusion on the evidence but the pre-publicity has been misleading and irresponsible. Most people reached by the pre-publicity won’t watch the programme.
“The Lib Dem leader risks provoking outrage this week when he joins Sir Richard Branson to put the case for removing all criminal sanctions for possessing cannabis – including skunk, its most potent form.”
The only thing that keeps this terrorising message about cannabis off its front page is Jihadi John. The Daily Mail and Jihadi John share the same ideas in how to persuade people to their bizarre and distorted world view.
In fact, elsewhere in the Mail, as well as in its terrorist allies in Fleet Street, cannabis and Jihadi John are conflated. Apparently, he used to smoke ‘high strength ‘skunk‘ cannabis’. Of course! That explains it all then. The Mail wants us to believe that cannabis causes terrorism, as well as psychosis, mad axe murderers, destroys the economy and makes normally happy, hard working people turn instantly into demented gibbering wrecks.
The Daily Mail is as accurate about cannabis as Jihadi John is on Islam, good and evil.
Charles Walker MP, the habitual deceiver on evidence about cannabis, is at it again – and he’s a terrorist too.
“…the drugs are seven or eight times more powerful now.”
What is this lie designed to achieve? It’s intended to terrorise people, parents in particular, with ridiculous exaggeration that has no evidence to back it up at all.
Maybe if we had more honesty from politicians and newspapers we’d have less terrorism all round? We’d certainly be better able to protect people from the dangers caused by the ‘war on drugs’. Also, young people might start to believe what we say about extremist ideologies rather than concluding that they can’t believe anything said by numbskull liars like Charles Walker or publisher liars like the Daily Mail.
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.
The British tabloid press has long been engaged in the corruption of our society and successive governments’ ability to deal with drugs policy by its sensationalism, distortion and dishonesty.
In fact the worst offender now is the Daily Telegraph, a tabloid in everything except format. It now eclipses the Mail newspapers for inaccurate, misleading and distorted reporting on all aspects of drugs policy. Its science and medicine writers are either deliberately engaged in deception or utterly incompetent. Virtually every story it publishes on drugs these days has to be retracted but you never hear about it because it’s buried in a tiny, tiny correction.
The Mail newspapers can’t resist the stories about the miraculous medicinal benefits of cannabis because they make such good sensationalism. So although they still publish hogwash, like this latest distortion, they’ve actually become more balanced almost by mistake.
Why is the British press so incompetent and/or malevolent on drugs? Is it anything to do with the £800 million pa that the alcohol industry spends on press advertising? I don’t know. Maybe it just likes to appeal to the fast dwindling band of bigots that actually buy newspapers these days.
We are a laughing stock across the world for the idiocy of our press and government, particularly in respect of cannabis. In Canada and Israel, hospitals provide elderly patients with cannabis vapourisers on trollies, so strong is the evidence for its beneficial effects on aging and dementia. Here of course we prefer to let them lie in their own excreta while feeding them with scaremongering nonsense, distortion and exaggeration of scientific studies.
Sugar, peanuts, hay fever remedies, aspirin, paracetamol and traffic fumes cause far more health harms than cannabis.
In Colorado, in 2014, $44 million in cannabis tax revenue was ringfenced for schools and hospitals. Since legalisation, crime and fatal traffic accidents are down 15%, murder is down 50%.
Far too sensible for Britain isn’t it? And it’s the work of our gutter press that prevents such progress here because politicians still give newspapers far too much respect.