27 Oct PCC Complaint. The Daily Mail, 26th October 2011
“Just ONE cannabis joint ‘can bring on schizophrenia’ as well as damaging memory”, the Daily Mail, 26-10-11
I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article which is still available online at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2053486/One-cannabis-joint-bring-schizophrenia.html
I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the Leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a UK political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below.
I make this complaint in good faith that you will honestly and fairly judge whether or not there have been breaches of the Editors’ Code. Self-evidently it is the duty of the commission to enforce the Editors’ Code. However, it is clear from many decisions that the commission’s focus is actually on finding excuses for breaches of the code. I am also very concerned that the commission is distorting scientific evidence to support its decisions in exactly the same way as some newspapers distort such evidence to enhance their copy. If it can be shown that commission is failing to enforce the Editors’ Code and/or distorting evidence to support the rejection of a complaint then the commission is not acting in good faith and a cause for action arises to recover damages.
1. The article breaches the duty set out in the preamble to the Editors’ Code to maintain the highest professional standards because it amounts to deliberate falsification of evidence.
2. It also breaches clause 1.i) of the code in that it publishes inaccurate, misleading and distorted information.
3. It also breaches clause 1.iii) in that it fails to distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.
4. The article is presented as a news story, not an opinion piece. It should therefore be concerned only with facts – unless comment or conjecture is clearly distinguished.
5. This complaint needs to be seen in the context of the Daily Mail’s systematic campaign over many years of misinformation, dishonesty, falsification and distortion of evidence concerning cannabis. To date the commission has failed to rein in these activities at all or to make any attempt to do so.
6. Yesterday, 26th October 2011, I telephoned Dr Matt Jones of the University of Bristol, lead author of the study that the article is concerned with. He told me that he was “disappointed but not surprised” at the Daily Mail coverage of the study. He also authorised me to quote his exact words in saying “The study does NOT show that one spliff will bring on schizophrenia”.
7. A full text copy of the study is provided here: /wp-content/previous/media/uploads/2011/10/DrMattJonesKucewicz_JN2011.pdf
8. As shown in 6) above, the headline and first paragraph of the article are false and can only be described as lies.
9. The second paragraph of the article is false in that the study did not look at the brains of cannabis users. It looked at the brains of rats. The method of administration was injection which is not a method used by cannabis users. The substance was not cannabis which contains hundreds of cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenoids and other substances, all of which have their own effects and which interact to produce further effects. The substance used was a synthetic cannabinoid analogue of THC known as CP55940. This is approximately 45 times more potent than naturally occurring THC (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP_55,940). Further details are available at the manufacturer’s website: http://www.tocris.com/pdfs/cannabinoid_receptor_review/page_004.html
10. The fifth paragraph is false in that it states that the dosage given to rats was a similar dose to a person smoking a joint. I spoke to Dr Matt Jones about this as well. He confirms that there is absolutely nothing in the study that compares the dosage of CP55940 in rats to a dosage of cannabis in humans and that, in fact, it would be impossible to quantify equivalent doses of different drugs in different species ingested in different ways. However, simple maths, scaling up the dosage of a 45 times more potent drug at a rate of 0.30 mg per kg of body weight indicates that a straight comparison between the dosage given to rats is more like a human ingesting the THC in about 85 joints simultaneously. I can provide detailed calculations if required. Quite clearly this is an invention by the Daily Mail and yet more falsification of evidence.
11. This article is a scandalous web of deception, lies, falsified evidence and deceit. I call on the commission to censure the Daily Mail in the strongest possible terms and for a full and very prominent apology and correction to be published.
I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required or to give oral evidence in support.