PCC Complaint. Lancashire Evening Post, 28th February 2011 – RESOLVED
“Teenage Drug Use Rises”, Lancashire Evening Post, 28th February 2011
I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article which is still available online at: http://www.lep.co.uk/news/local/teenage_drug_use_rises_1_3126043
I make the complaint on my account but also in my capacity as the Leader of the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, a political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below. Please acknowledge receipt of this complaint.
1. This article breaches the Editors’ Code Of Practice clause 1.i) in that it publishes inaccurate, misleading and distorted information.
2. The article contains a quote attributed to Samantha Jones of the Lancashire Drug and Alcohol Action Team:
“We know that, far from being a ‘safe’ drug, cannabis can be very destructive and lead to mental illnesses. Not only does it cause short-term memory loss and lethargy, which can have a negative effect for young people studying at school or college, but it also increases the risk of cancer and lung disease.”
3. I have been in touch with Ms Jones and she contends that she was not responsible for this statement and that the newspaper has confused her words with those of another unnamed individual from the Central Lancashire NHS Trust.
4. In any event, this is a seriously inaccurate and misleading statement which distorts the facts. The pre-eminent expert on the subject, Professor Les Iversen, the government’s chief drugs advisor, is famous for his article in The Times “Cannabis. Why It’s Safe”. In fact, the latest evidence is that cannabis is at least 100 times safer than alcohol and 1000 times less toxic.
5. Clearly any psychoactive substance has the potential for harm, particularly if used by children, but the mental health/psychosis scare is vastly exaggerated. In 2009, Professor Glyn Lewis of the University of Bristol reviewed all the published research and concluded that 96% of people can use cannabis with no risk whatsoever and in the remaining 4% the risk is “statistically tiny”. in fact all the evidence is that using cannabis is very, very unlikely to lead to mental health problems.
6. The suggestion that cannabis “increases the risk of cancer and lung disease” is absolute nonsense. The facts are that cannabis has been shown to have a protective effect against lung damage and cancer, even inhibiting the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke. See the Tashkin/UCLA 2006 study for details.
I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any furrther information required or to give oral evidence in support.
Published in the Lancashire Evening Post, 15th April 2011
—– Original Message —–
From: Charlotte Dewar
Sent: Wednesday, April 27, 2011 2:48 PM
Subject: PCC Complaint 111163 – Resolution statement
Dear Mr Reynolds
Now that your complaint has been resolved, a short summary of it will soon be available on the Commission’s web site. Unless we hear to the contrary within 7 days, we will assume you are happy with the summary and are content for information to be released publicly.
The wording will be as follows:
Lancashire Evening Post
Peter Reynolds, leader of Cannabis Law Reform, complained to the Press Complaints Commission that the newspaper had published inaccurate and misleading information about the potential harm of cannabis.
The complaint was resolved when the PCC negotiated the publication of the following letter from the complainant:
Your article “Teenage Drug Use Rises” on 28th February 2011, highlights how ineffective the prohibition of cannabis is.
Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) seeks to represent the interests of the six million people in Britain that use cannabis regularly. We advocate a system of regulation which will protect children and the vulnerable. Under the present system, it is easier for children to buy cannabis than it is to buy cigarettes or alcohol. This is a ridiculous, irresponsible and self-defeating policy. Clearly, no psychoactive substance should be used when the brain is still developing.
However, what makes matters even worse is the sort of information which you were provided with by the Lancashire Drug and Alcohol Action Team. Samantha Jones said that cannabis is “far from being a safe drug” yet Professor Leslie Iversen, the government’s chief drugs advisor says cannabis is “one of the safer recreational drugs”. In fact, the latest evidence is that cannabis is at least 100 times safer than alcohol and 1000 times less toxic.
Also, Ms Jones says that cannabis increases the risk of cancer and lung disease. However, the largest study of its type was carried out by Dr Donald Tashkin of UCLA in 2006 who found that cannabis has a protective effect against lung damage and cancer, even inhibiting the carcinogenic effects of tobacco smoke.
However much money it wastes, the government is not going to stop people using cannabis. A tax and regulate regime would produce a net benefit of at least £6 billion per annum to the UK economy and much better protection for children.
How much longer do we have to wait before we get a drugs policy that is based on facts and evidence, rather than hysteria and misinformation?
Peter Reynolds, Leader, Cannabis Law Reform
If you are dissatisfied with the way in which your complaint has been handled you should write within one month to the Independent Reviewer, whose details can be accessed using this web link: http://www.pcc.org.uk/about/whoswho/independentreview.html