BBC – State Funded Skunk Sensationalism (with no scientific support)

BBC launch scare monger campaign against ‘skunk’ cannabis after ITV shows the true side and harm that current drug policy of prohibition itself is causing – rather than cannabis.

BBC-BiasIn an article published online alongside a video filmed in Nottingham, aired on the 28th of October to promote BBC Inside Out, claims are made about the increased use of cannabis and concern expressed over the amount being smoked by young people. Here we have broken down each sentence that the BBC published and look over some of the blind-sighted statements made – or, for better use of a word, propaganda. It’s all bad, bad, bad, but not one mention of the medical side of cannabis. GW Pharmaceuticals are licensed to grow 300 tonnes a year.

Dangers of skunk must be reinforced warn health experts

28 October 2013 Last updated at 13:33 GMT

  • Skunk is the strong form of cannabis, high in the chemical THC, which has become increasingly popular with UK drug users.

Very true, “Skunk” is pretty much the British word for Sensimillia “cannabis without seed”. This means it produces more resin as it doesn’t have to put energy into reproducing seed. Not many people like smoking cannabis with seeds in. It’s oily, crackles, tastes and feels harsher to smoke – not to mention more harmful chemicals are inhaled when seeds are burned. There may be more ‘skunk’ on the market than regular, bush weed but that’s because people are making informed decisions and the market has adapted to that.

  • The drug is known to increase the risk of anxiety and paranoia amongst those who smoke it, resulting in an increasing number of referrals for mental health treatment.

It would be beneficial to support statements like this with actual statistics rather than just making the claim and expecting your readership to just believe you – because you are the BBC and you work under a Royal Charter which means you have to be unbiased. If cannabis was sold under a regulated framework consumers would be able to choose the strength and level of CBD:THC ratio that their cannabis had rather than being left to the hands of dealers that just want the money and don’t are about any potential negative outcomes.

  • The number of people in treatment for mental health problems after smoking cannabis has gone up by a third in the past six years in the UK.

Again, where are these figures coming from?

  • David Manley from the Nottinghamshire Health Care NHS Trust says it is not unusual for him to meet young people who smoke 20-30 skunk joints each day.

Nottingham Council need to start providing more activities and better facilities for today’s youths. Young people typically get into drug habits when there is not much else to do to stimulate their minds. Invest in our youth and inspire their creative minds – don’t blame cannabis.

More worryingly it doesn’t take a GW Pharmaceuticals scientist to work out that smoking 20-30 joints a day would be a hell of a lot of cannabis. Where are all these youths getting it from? And how are they affording it? Quite simply – they aren’t (but don’t let the Tories make you think that it’s being paid for by benefit cheques)!

A 2013 study from the Centers for Disease Control in the United States found that a person with a mental illness was 70% more likely to smoke [tobacco] than a person without a mental disorder. Misdiagnosing cannabis use because of a raving nicotine addiction in an patient with an underlying mental health problem is not going to help them.

These youths quite clearly have a tobacco addiction (legally available – government sanctioned drug) as it has been culture in the UK to cut cannabis with tobacco. Why no one seems to batter an eye lid at the fact that some young people are smoking 30-40 cigarettes a day is beyond me. There is a legal age for buying tobacco in the UK and that is 18, only raised up from 16 in recent years. Teen use has been declining since 2006 and this is most likely due to sending out a stronger message by using Health Warning Labels and introducing the smoking ban in public and work places, rather than the threat of a criminal record as is the case with cannabis.

Action on Smoking and Health – Young People and Smoking (July 2013)

David Manley, according to the National Statistics on Smoking 2011 “Smoking was estimated to cost the NHS in the UK £5.2 billion in 2005/06” – I would be more worried about this.

“In 2010, it is estimated that almost one in five deaths in England of people over 35 years of age were due to smoking. Over a third of all deaths from respiratory diseases and almost three in ten of all deaths from cancers in this population are estimated to be caused by smoking. A higher proportion of smoking attributed deaths were seen for men (23%) compared to women (14%).”

Cannabis use has never resulted in death and even smoking cannabis (pure) has been shown to actually improve lung function and reduce cancer risks (Tashkin, et al, UCLA, 2005). Here is also an article by Pf. David Nutt outlining why the British Lung Foundations evidence against claiming cannabis is more harmful than tobacco is quite simply void of accuracy.

From my experience as a person that travels around to many parts of the UK I can say that enforcement of youth tobacco consumption has never entered my radar but the number of youths I have seen smoking cigarettes in town centres is always the same.

There is no legal age for buying cannabis because no ID is required as there are no controls over the black market drugs trade. If the claims that cannabis is so harmful were true – wouldn’t you expect them to introduce measures to stop young people being able to get hold of it?

  • Peter Moyes, director of the Nottingham Crime and Drugs Partnership, wants a clearer message about the health dangers associated with skunk to be given to young people.

Stop lying to them and you might get a better response. Just a thought.

  • Inside Out’s Sarah Sturdey meets two young adults called Jackson, 18, and Jacob, 20, from Nottingham who explain why they smoke skunk despite the warnings.

Well done to Jackson and Jacob for standing and representing cannabis consumers where it counts. Prefering cannabis to alcohol is not uncommon and when giving evidence to the Home Affairs Select Committee reviewing Drugs Policy, Pf David Nutt speaking for the Independent Scientific Council on Drugs, proposed that around 20% of people would switch to using cannabis from alcohol as their first choice of recreational drug were it to be legally regulated.

  • Inside Out is broadcast on Monday, 28 October at 19:30 GMT on BBC One East Midlands and nationwide on the iPlayer for seven days thereafter.

Or you can watch it here:

Most of the points I have made all pretty much explain the same thing – people who use cannabis quite often do so by making an informed decision. As adults we have decided that 18 is the age when you are better at making informed decisions and your body is ready for you to put consciousness altering substances such as alcohol, nicotine and hopefully, sooner rather than later, cannabis. In the United States of America, Washington and Colorado have legalized and are regulating the sale of cannabis to 21 year olds and above (the same as their legal drinking age).

Why do the BBC fail to give an informed, rational and balanced account of an issue that has so much global attention currently? Are they just bad at reporting or is there more of an agenda here, only feeding their audience a specific agenda and bias?

What do you think of the BBCs coverage on cannabis? On teen cannabis use? On teen tobacco use? Leave your comments below.

Nottingham Cannabis Club

Comments (13)

  1. "I am against Prohibition because it has set the cause of temperence back twenty years; because it has substituted an ineffective campaign of force for an effective campaign of education; because it has replaced comparatively uninjurious light wines and beers with the worst kind of hard liquor and bad liquor; because it has increased drinking not only among men but has extended drinking to women and even children." William Randolph Hearst (initially a supporter of alcohol Prohibition, explaining his change of mind in), 1929 “Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it.” Edmund Burke, 1791 Substitute the word 'cannabis' for 'liquor', and 'smoking' for 'drinking', and it's not hard to see that BBC Nottingham simply don't know history, and are happy to see it endlessly repeated......
  2. Marajuana use is related to paranoia.. There are plenty of statistics to prove it. What they don't identify though is that most paranoia is a result of fear of the police or fear of gangs and social paranoia occurs based on stigma associated with marajuana use. People are afraid of marajuana because they are afraid of the social connotations of marajuana, that is that it is related to other organised criminal activities. If we remove the stigma and the crime from marajuana there is no reason it can not be used safely and responsibly, if not more so.
  3. The UK’s Misuse of Drugs Act, is an Act for the regulation and control of dangerous drugs; not the prohibition of drugs. Our government continue to claim that criminalising its citizens without any proper basis in law is, somehow, being done to protect people; protecting people being the true basis for and the intension of The UN Single Convention (aka UN Opiates Act ), on which the UK’s Misuse of Drugs Act is supposed to be based! The possession, production and supply of Cannabis is deemed illegal because of the claim it has ‘no medical value’ and despite evidence to the contrary is considered a dangerous drug with ‘potential for harm and abuse’. The truth is that the UK resisted the inclusion of cannabis into UN Opiates Act; as having lost the cotton fields of Egypt it was considering a return to hemp production to safeguard employment in the cotton mills of Northern England. However an inducement was offered to supply twenty years of subsidised cotton from the USA to obtain the UK’s signature and the more inclusive Single Convention was drafted (The real reason for the shutdown of the UK clothing industry in 1983 was the end of this subsidy)) The claim that keeping the possession, production and supply of cannabis illegal is to protect the public is farcical. How is allowing free reign to organised crime to pollute / contaminate the drug supply with dangerous adulterants in order to increase their profit, supposed to help protect anyone? Let alone the vulnerable! The words from Mr Cameron’s first speech in parliament “fresh thinking and a new approach” to drug policy comes to mind, as does his other statements “Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown” and then there was “Drugs policy has been failing for decades”; As a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee he stated “that the government at the time should initiate a discussion at the United Nations to consider alternative ways, including the possibility of legalisation and regulation, to tackle the global drugs problem”; all of which glow as beacons of hypocrisy in the light of his recent claims over “very very toxic cannabis”. This leaves many of us wondering if some agency other than the elected government and its Prime Minister decide our nation’s drug policy. If cannabis has no medical value why was £10 million handed over to Dr Geoffrey Guy to establish his company G & W Pharmaceuticals (Guy &Watson Pharmaceuticals) and succour the seed stock of Hortipham NL? This company GW Phama (a small British Start up) is in fact part of Beyer Pharmaceuticals and produces 30 tons of cannabis a year in the UK to make Sativex. Sativex the "medicine" made from cannabis the "drug of little or no medical value" with “potential for harm and abuse”. For anyone to ague that cannabis in its raw form is a dangerous and highly toxic class B drug of no medical value is now unsupportable, as is the argument that is extract are more dangerous and presumably even more toxic. The hypocrisy of this position is underlined by the fact that Sativex is currently being gerrymandered into schedule 4, part 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Act as a medicine of little or no known risk of harm or abuse. It is even more ridiculous to try to argue that by adding two forms of alcohol (substances with a known risk of abuse and harm) to these extracts of a class B drug metamorphosis’s them into a "medicine” of little or no known risk of harm or abuse" suitable for listing under schedule 4; unless it's the Peppermint that nullifies the risks posed by all the other ingredients and is responsible for their conversion of course! This whole proposition is a lie and a clear example of gerrymandering, unsupportable in fact! It is now arguable that cannabis is legal or at least as legal as Aspirin! Unless Cannabis has taken on quantum properties it can not exist in more than one state. Earl Howe has confirmed that there is essentially no difference in the cannabis contained in Sativex and natural uncontaminated herbal cannabis. Both are cannabis, and cannabis is confirmed as the only ingredient of any medicinal value in the “Medicine” Sativex. Let’s look at Sativex and the feeble attempt to justify the government’s position that Sativex is a ‘different product’, its ridiculous! As is the claim it is a medicine of quantifiable ingredients, only 5 of the 83 ingredients being at a measured dose, which leaves 78 cannabinoids at an unregulated, unquantifiable level. What is Sativex, it is whole plant extract mixed with two types of alcohol (substances of known harm and risk of abuse) infused with peppermint oil. Basically nothing more than ‘O’Shaughnessy tincture’ as was brought back from India by Sir William Brooke 0’Shuaghnessy in 1841 and was part of the British pharmacopeia until the inclusion of cannabis in the Single Convention. In the 1930’s over 2000 medical preparations of cannabis were available; all are now considered illegal. Now let us look at the origin of the seeds used, Hortipham its directors and their Licence to produce cannabis seed and conduct research. Several FOI request have been made of the Home Office in relation to the following, unfortunately the Home Office whilst admitting they have information pertaining to the questions raised claim that it would take them over the financial limit placed on supplying said information. In one reply and stated in the other that to do so may undermine the financial security of the company! One of Hortiphams directors is believed to be Robert Connell Clarke author of Marijuana Botany – a guide to breeding distinctive cannabis strains, a book that has ‘informed’ most other illegal/clandestine cannabis seed breeders worldwide. The other Director is David Watson aka Sam the Skunkman aka Sam Selezny, the Man who first introduced Skunk cannabis to Europe. It has been publicly claimed that David Watson was a ‘junior member’ of the Sacred Seed Collective, Santa Cruz, California, when it was raided by the DEA in 1985. Sam Selezny was the name on the passport he used when he ‘apparently’ fled the USA’s Drug Enforcement Agency to avoid criminal prosecution; carrying with him the dubiously obtained Cannabis genetics (250,000 cannabis seeds) and the research of the Sacred Seed Collective. Sometime after his arrival in Holland a ‘licence’ for research was obtained from the Dutch Department of Health. ‘Sam the skunk man’ was born; as David Watson was known to the criminal underworld of Holland’s cannabis growers and cannabis seed producers, of which he was the major player. One who used his ‘licence’ to provide seeds to most of the cannabis seed companies in the Netherlands for almost three decades. He was the only seed breeder who could guarantee the safety of the crop due to his ‘licence’ other breeders, his contemporaries being routinely arrested and their crops seized. Prior’ to the UK Governments financing of GW Pharmaceuticals a French pharmaceutical company looking to make cannabis based medicine was trying to find the directors of Hortipharm due to them having a ‘licence’ and contacted the Dutch Authorities, who knew nothing of the licence and launched an inquiry. No individual or Department would admit to providing this ‘licence and deciding it was apparently fraudulently obtained. It was withdrawn by the Dutch Government halting all seed production in the Netherlands as a consequence. I believe it is illegal to make a cannabis based medicine using seeds from a non licensed company; Hortipharms dubiously obtained licence was withdrawn long before GW Pharmaceuticals bought into their seed stock making this medicine an ‘illegal’ product. It is also illegal for government to gift public money to any company having more than a 80% market share, G.W (Guy &Watson?) Pharmaceuticals have a 100% monopoly backed up by criminal sanctions against any competition. Much has been made of the Cannabis causes psychosis hypothesis and the Keele University was asked by the Government and the Advisory Counsel on the Misuse of Drugs to conduct a study into the reality; This involved 600,000 UK citizens aged 15-47 (the at risk group), it was conducted during the decade that it was claimed saw a 30 times increase in strengths of ‘skunk’ types of cannabis, the same decade as it was claimed saw a huge increase in the numbers of young people using this ‘new’ cannabis. The results were then compared with the preceding two decades to identify and confirm the rise in the percentage of the population suffering from psychosis. The results showed a drop in the percentage of the population suffering psychosis. This study was then marked for academic access only and has never been referred to by any politician since; it has to all intents and purposes been buried, its facts not supporting the hypothesis. The reality is that like alcohol those prepossessed to psychosis should avoid its use, it does not make ordinary people psychotic. Vested interests over the business’s run by our political elite are the real reasons behind resisting any change in the drug laws. They have investments in alcohol, tobacco, prisons and the justice machinery. Add that to the fact that legalising drugs will bring into sharp perspective the 40 odd years of lies and deception that they have used to keep them illegal, this they will resist as they will never admit their lies!!! The UK Government are to put it blatantly engaged in an attempt to privatise and illegally monopolise the medical cannabis industry here in the UK and beyond, they are hand in glove with GW pharmaceuticals who are ‘housed’ at Porton Down. Our government is willing to allow citizens of all the countries that signed the Schengen agreement to consume natural cannabis as a medicine in the UK yet criminalise UK residents to protect commercial interest; such blatant hypocrisy and double dealing/double standards could only come from British parliamentarians.
  4. I had already made a very informed complaint to the BBC and I would encourage others to do the same and express their views. I will most likely be releasing my complaint and subsequent responce... when i get one.
  5. Im dumbfounded by this complete nonsense, This exactly what REGULATION will sort out, Underage smoking of the substance. Somebody needs to do a proper video on this and Medical values.

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