Complain To The BBC About Their Cannabis Lies And Bias

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Having enjoyed a rather wonderful day at the London 420 Hyde Park meeting on Saturday, I was surprised to see that most media coverage was negative. Not just unfairly balanced (i.e. mentioning the ‘dangers’ of the plant), but completely missing the point, and even inviting some of the most deluded prohibitionists along to add their mucky two pence pieces. Well, BBC, today’s your unlucky day, as I’m in a skull-cracking mood.

It’s not just one instance, but the BBC website has a history of misreporting cannabis, and even providing wholly inaccurate health advice. Remember, this isn’t just a private, Murdoch-run rag, but something which is funded by those of us who pay our licence fee (not that I’d ever recommend anybody do this, if they don’t have to). They have a duty to be impartial, but this has tended towards erring on the side of conservatism when it comes to drugs. There’s never a positive mention without any guessed-at negatives being included, but it’s an even sorrier state of affairs when articles are allowed to be purely based on bullshit, and the facts aren’t mentioned as they’re deemed too positive.

NORML UK have already given their opinion on this affair, but I thought I’d write up some templates for others to send directly to the BBC in order to complain about their bias and mis-reporting. Please feel free to use this text, or preferably, chop and change it to suit your own take. The first template is for the article reviewing the 420 meet, and the second is for this advice they provide, which talks about cannabis being as unhealthy as tobacco, and leading to all sorts of cancer. Please submit either or both complaints via this form.

Complaint One (420 reporting)

Hi,

Regarding this article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-22251463

I was most unhappy to discover that you’ve reported the London 420 meeting in such a negative light. You’ve painted the affair as something awful, and even provided Mary Brett (a famously paranoid and anti-science prohibitionist) with free rein to push lies about cannabis. Scientists pull their hair out when you give air time to such misguided souls, let alone when you don’t provide any balance in the form of real science which shows how cannabis is a relatively safe way to enjoy your time.

There’s no context here – it’s just an angry person annoyed because people won’t bow to her unfounded moralising. Don’t you have standards which demand that any outrageous claims are asterisked with statements that scientific consensus suggests these people are incorrect? Mary Brett is a former teacher whose living relies on advertising her ‘charity’. She makes unfounded comments on the plant not being the same as it was in the sixties, despite anybody with a basic understanding of plants being able to show how she’s wrong. The government-sponsored Sativex cannabis solution has upwards of 3x the amount of THC, and 50x the CBD content of most strains we have today, yet this is accepted as medicine with very few side-effects. She has no grasp of the topic for which you give her space on your website.

Please ensure that commentators have some business talking about the topic, and provide more balance on the positive side of cannabis. Many millions of UK citizens use the plant safely and regularly, and we’re sick of being smeared or having to defend ourselves against lies pushed by the nation’s chief broadcaster.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and I look forward to seeing a change in future.

Complaint Two (online advice)

Hi,

Regarding this article – http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio1/advice/factfile_az/cannabis

I was shocked to find that you’ve claimed that cannabis has similar health effects to tobacco. This is incredibly inaccurate, as shown by the fact that tobacco accounted for 100m deaths last century, and is predicted to kill 1bn during the next. This is according to figures from Cancer Research UK, which can be found here:

http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-info/cancerstats/causes/lifestyle/tobacco/tobacco-and-cancer-risk 

In comparison, nobody has ever died from overdosing on cannabis or having a toxic reaction to their use. It’s just not possible. I’m flabbergasted that you can casually mention these two plants as being similar, when they are worlds apart. 50% of tobacco users will die from their addiction, and the rest will have severe health issues, including lung problems. Dr Donald Taskin of UCLA undertook a study on cannabis and lung capacity and found there was no noticeable loss even for long-term, heavy users. Cannabis actually has anti-tumour properties which combat carcinogens, as opposed to tobacco, which itself is a major player in lung and oesophageal cancer. You can read about Dr Taskin’s research here:

http://healthland.time.com/2012/01/10/study-smoking-marijuana-not-linked-with-lung-damage

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1277837

I’d appreciate it if you could update your website to reflect facts, rather than superstition and non-science. As you’re providing advice for a nation, funded by the taxpayer, I feel you must be honest and impartial. Please don’t mislead your readers.

Thanks for taking the time to read, and I look forward to seeing a change in future.

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