Correcting BBC misinformation around Cannabis

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I came across a BBC microsite detailing cannabis, and giving advice to people considering the plant. Unfortunately it was riddled with inaccuracies, so I submitted a complaint.

Hi,

Regarding this page:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/emotional_health/addictions/cannabis.shtml

There are a number of significant errors, and a lack of comparison to present to readers with examples of how relatively safe the substance is. For instance:

“The main active ingredient in cannabis is tetrahydrocannabino (THC).”

Isn’t really accurate, as particularly the chemical cannabidiol (CBD) is a key and crucial part of the high associated with cannabis, and moreover, this is a key medicinal component of the plant.

“One type, skunk, can be particularly potent as it contains two to three time as much THC as other types.”

Skunk is the name of a specific strain of cannabis, it’s not a different plant/substance. Indeed, the chances of smoking that specific strain are very small. You’d be lucky to find it on sale in Amsterdam, or at a medical marijuana dispensary in the USA. You’re taking a slang name and using it in an official/informative piece, incorrectly.

And it’s simply not the case that cannabis flowers offer the strongest concentration of THC. There are oils and hashes which contain 10x the levels of THC seen in many of the strains you’d clasify as ‘skunk’. The highest advertised cannabis plant I’ve ever seen contains 25% THC, whereas the strongest hash/isolator can easily be 60%. Indeed, GW Pharmaceuticals, who’re the legal sellers of cannabis in the UK and beyond (to the NHS/medicinal users) use a concentration which amounts to the same levels as that of the strongest hash available; making your average cannabis flowers seem weak in comparison.

I feel you could do more to guide users on safe/enjoyable use by mentioning CBD, and how they should aim for concentrations which see a ratio of THC to CBD as close to 1:1 as possible. The high concentration of CBD is a key antipsychotic, and balances out a lot of the uneasy effects of a high THC/low CBD strain. The issue at the moment with prohibition is that users have no idea what they’re buying from dealers, and can’t make safe and suitable choices. It’s the equivalent of people having to buy a ‘bottle of alcohol’ rather than selecting wine, cider, or spirits, depending on their tastes and the effect they’re looking for.

“There is some scientific evidence to suggest it may be useful in a wide range of conditions. But the complex nature of the substances contained within the plant makes it difficult for medical research to establish clearly its safety or efficacy, so its effects are far from proven or well-understood.”

Actually, GW Pharmaceuticals has passed trials with Sativex (a full and complete extraction of all chemicals within cannabis), which is now available in many countries on prescription. It has been certified as a safe substance. Please see the following:

http://www.sativex.co.uk/healthcare-professionals/pharmacists/safety-and-tolerability

“People may become dependent on cannabis and find it difficult to stop using it, experiencing unpleasant withdrawal symptoms if they do stop such as cravings, agitation, mood changes, sleep problems, appetite disturbance and other symptoms.”

Cannabis has been shown to be less addictive than even caffeine, and is not physically addictive. Please see the following resource:

http://www.procon.org/view.background-resource.php?resourceID=1492

“A report by the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee recommended the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes. However, the British Medical Association (BMA) did not give the report 100 per cent support and believes only cannabinoids – carefully identified chemical derivatives of the cannabis plant – should be used in medicine. TheGovernment says it will not consider legalising cannabis for medical use until clinical trials had been completed.”

Again, this is false. Sativex has been approved and it’s an extraction of every element of the cannabis plant, not just one or two cannabinoids.

“Occasional users of cannabis may be able to give it up, although they may find it harder to give up the general smoking habit. However, heavier users may need expert help to stop. Talk to your GP or local community drug agency or clinic.”

It would be great if you could mention preferable, safer methods of ingesting cannabis. Vaporisation has become more prominent over the years, and smoking without tobacco removes the vast majority of things which can cause negative health effects or addiction. Please see the following campaign against smoking/using tobacco with cannabis:

http://www.clear-uk.org/tokepure

Thanks for taking the time to read this, and I hope you’ll update the page to reflect more appropriate and useful advice on how to avoid making cannabis consumption dangerous.

 

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