15 Mar BBC Waterloo Road Goes Reefer Madness Crazy

Waterloo Road is described as “… a contemporary drama series set in a challenging comprehensive school in Rochdale.” This week it looked more like a propaganda film, funded by Big Booze and GW Pharma, backed by the Home Office and full of lies, propaganda, sensationalist nonsense and misinformation. Its latest storyline, flying in the face of all the scientific evidence, is that cannabis causes schizophrenia.

Is this what the BBC calls responsible? Is this travesty of truth and science the right way to educate and entertain children and families?

Waterloo Road is produced by Shed Media, part of Warner Brothers. Disturbingly it claims to be involved in producing “factual entertainment” programmes. There are no facts in this programme though, just prohibitionist lies and scaremongering. Whoever the scriptwriter and producer are they need to be held to account for this dreadful distortion of truth. Their work is fiction, fantasy fiction of the most incredible and ridiculous kind but with a sinister, dishonest edge.

You can watch the programme on the BBC iPlayer.

Please complain about this programme and make your views known.

BBC Complaints website

Email BBC Points Of View: [email protected]

Email Shed Media: [email protected]

I have made a complaint to the BBC and written to all my BBC editorial contacts as follows:

Dear Sirs,

Waterloo Road “Cannabis causes schizophrenia” storyline

I am extremely concerned about this emerging Waterloo Road storyline. It is a very dangerous path for the BBC to be following which is more to do with propaganda than with science or evidence.

I am the elected leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a registered UK political party and now the largest, membership based drug reform group that Britain has ever seen

That this message about cannabis is dressed up in the empathetic guise of a soap opera makes it particularly insidious and powerful. It is the promotion of a myth in a way that is quite likely to cause fear and confusion amongst viewers. It is extremely irresponsible.

I want to ensure that in any news, current affairs or discussion programmes where this storyline is mentioned that a proper balance is preserved. I am available for comment at anytime on 07*** ******.

Despite the massive increase in cannabis use since the 1960s, there has been no increase at all in psychosis or schizophrenia. Research data in all countries across the world confirms this. In 2008, specifically in response to tabloid scare stories, the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) commissioned scientists at Keele University to examine the evidence. They concluded that the rate and prevalence of schizophrenia was either “stable or declining”. (Ref. 1 below).

The world’s leading experts on cannabis and links with psychosis are Professor Glyn Lewis and Dr Stanley Zammit of the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff. They are both on the record repeatedly stating that there is no proof of a causal link between cannabis use and psychosis.

Hickman et al 2009 (Ref. 2 below), a study of all published evidence, shows that the risk of a correlation between lifetime cannabis use and a single diagnosis of psychosis is at worst 0.013% and probably less than 0.003%.

This storyline is a fictionalised account of the scare stories that the Daily Mail and other tabloid newspapers have been running for more than 10 years. It is particularly disturbing and inaccurate that the subject of the story develops symptoms after he has stopped using cannabis. As fiction, you may claim that it is dealing with an extreme case but the effect will be to misinform and mislead. Certainly, children should not be using cannabis but misinformation and propaganda like this does more to cause confusion than to protect or inform.

Please would you explain how you will be providing suitable opportunities to balance this sensationalist storyline with some facts and evidence?

Yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds