There’s a buzz in England ahead of a reality TV show starting next week, where celebrities go on a road trip across the US, sampling the wonders of legal cannabis. There’s the usual anxiety over whether they will portray weed in a positive light, or whether we’ll see another person freaking out from having taken too much on their first go. Ahead of Monday’s first episode (9pm on ITV1 in the UK), we caught up with Pam St. Clement and asked her about her experience.
Why did you agree to sign up for Gone To Pot?
“I wanted to be involved because I thought the subject matter was incredibly interesting and I liked the idea of taking this type of television to a slightly different domain. Ever since the Blair government suggested the possibility of legalising marijuana, I’ve been mulling it over in my mind. I’ve had a couple of friends who both had MS and they couldn’t get any relief, apart from smoking. They grew their own marijuana, so they were breaking the law – but these were middle-aged people who didn’t want to have to break the law to ease their pain. I thought to myself, ‘I’m going to look into this. I want to find out more.’ I thought it was a great idea for a television show.”
Before you signed up for Gone To Pot, what were your thoughts on legalising cannabis in the UK?
“I suppose I came down on the side of pro-legalisation, but that’s only because I think we’re fighting the wrong battles. Personally, I think we should be fighting the battle against hard drugs. We’re wasting police effort with marijuana, but I needed to know more. I hadn’t done much research on marijuana before the show, but I’ve learned a lot about it now.”
Have your opinions changed since you started work on the documentary?
“We’ve all been like see-saws with our opinions. Our opinions changed every day. One day, we’d meet people and we’d think, ‘Oh heck, that’s not good. This can’t be legalised.’ On other days, we’d meet another set of people and we’d think, ‘Oh, it’s so good. This should definitely be legalised.’ I would constantly remind everyone on the bus that we needed to get a balanced view of the drug, but I don’t think anybody questions the medical benefits of marijuana. The medical profession doesn’t even question the fact that CBD, which is an element of the marijuana plant, is very beneficial medically. They are not saying it’s a miracle drug, but they agree that it is very useful for chronic conditions. The argument starts to come with the THC, which is the element of the plant that gives people the high.”
What can you reveal about the people you met on your American adventure?
“We met so many fascinating, interesting people. We heard so many different stories. We met the Sisters of the Valley who have set up a marijuana business. We met everyday people who use marijuana to help them with their chronic pain. We met people at Marijuana Anonymous, which was fascinating. We also went to a facility called High Sobriety where marijuana is used to help ween people off much harder drugs.”
Did you try cannabis during your American adventure?
“I took a puff of a joint and it was very pleasant. I also tried a tincture for my health from the dispensary and some of the food with marijuana in it.”
Did you try any other forms of cannabis during the making of the documentary?
“As part of the show, I was prescribed some drops that were three parts CBD to one part THC. They were prescribed to me to help with my arthritic condition and they were taken sublingually. They say that’s the best way for it to get into your system; a drop under your tongue. After taking the oil, I did feel a bit better – but that could’ve been down to anything. It could’ve been the sunshine. It could’ve been the climate. I couldn’t make a valid judgement in the short time we spent in California. Annoyingly, we had to throw away all of our medication before we moved on to Denver a few days later. Even though Denver is an American state where marijuana is legal, we were passing through federal air space, so we couldn’t take any of our medicine with us. However, it was definitely an interesting experiment. “
Where did you stay during the filming of the documentary?
“We stayed at a number of different places in California and Colorado. We stayed at a hotel called the Madonna Inn, which was filled with bizarrely-themed rooms and lots of artificial rock. From the outside, it looked like Portmeirion, which is where they filmed The Prisoner. It was full of strange round architecture. It was very, very odd. I didn’t sleep well the night we stayed there. We also stayed at a motel that we nicknamed ‘Bates Motel’ [from Psycho]. That was a true American experience. It was the type of motel you’ve seen in plenty of American movies, complete with a traditional diner across the road. Where else did we stay? We had a cabin in the middle of the mountains of Aspen Canyon in Colorado. We also stayed in a very nice house in the Hollywood Hills.”
What can you tell us about the police raid you witnessed during the documentary shoot?
“The police raid was extraordinary. I can’t wait for people to see it in the show. Apparently, it was the perfect time to harvest marijuana, so it was a good time to catch people. They caught and arrested nine guys that day, but three ran away and even the police dogs didn’t catch them. However, the sheriff was very happy. He said to us, “I’m going home with nobody hurt. No police hurt. No prisoners hurt. None of the SWAT team hurt.” We were looking at fields of marijuana worth more than £2 million. It was incredible. We weren’t allowed to go in until a SWAT team had cleared the area because they were worried about weapons – but I ended up walking around the fields after we were allowed on site. The smell was absolutely overpowering, but they were beautiful plants.”
What do you hope audiences gain from watching the documentary?
“I think there will be a big reaction to the show. I think people will be surprised that the five of us decided to take part in something like this. I think youngsters will say, “What are those old biddies doing over there? We should be doing it!” Other people will disagree whole-heartedly with our objective, and other people will say, “Good for you.” To be honest, that’s exactly what we want. We want that sort of discussion. We want people to talk about the issue of legalisation. We want them to debate it. We want them to look into the subject and come up with their own opinions, just like we have.”
You can catch Gone To Pot American Road Trip at 9pm on Monday 13th November, Wednesday 15th, and the final episode will be Friday 17th, all on ITV1. Ensure you subscribe to The Cannabis Geek on Facebook to receive reviews and previews for each.