24 Apr Cannabis Skunk Sense: Publisher of Bad Science And Non-Sense
Meet Mary Brett in person and she’s your granny. She’s a kindly lady whose motives are beyond doubt. As a biology teacher at a very posh boys grammar school in leafy Buckinghamshire she evidently cared deeply for the welfare of her pupils. Sadly, this genuine concern has turned her into a drug warrior and propagandist of the most dangerous kind. Using the vehicle of a registered charity, Cannabis Skunk Sense, she is in the business of misinforming and scaremongering about cannabis. By providing ‘secretarial services’ for the All Party Parliamentary Group on Cannabis and Children she has managed to win influence in parliament. She is a key player in maintaining the present hugely damaging, costly and oppressive policy on cannabis.
Mary and her colleague Lucy Dawe have been busy this week, largely in response to the Hyde Park 420 event. They are, of course, the favourite source of a scary quote for the Daily Mail and they’ve been relentessly pushing the myth of ‘skunk’, the lie that cannabis is dangerous, even “horrific“.
At CLEAR we share her concern about the very large number of children seen smoking cannabis in Hyde Park but the way to deal with this is not to threaten them with jail and frighten them with bad science. They’re clever and well informed enough to know when they hear propaganda. The trouble is that makes them dismiss any health warnings about cannabis and for young people it is important to be careful.
Cannabis Skunk Sense is the charity of which Ms Brett is founder and trustee. There’s a technical term for the way in which her charity operates and that is that it’s a ‘sham’. It’s not genuine because charities are prohibited from taking part in politics and that’s exactly what Cannabis Skunk Sense does. It campaigns ruthlessly with bad and discredited science and whips up fear and hatred of cannabis users with inflammatory speakers such as Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe. MPs are misinformed, misled and blinded with bad science.
Mary is wedded to the discredited COMT gene theory, disproven many times over, that suggests 25% of those who use cannabis will become psychotic. It is the work of Professor Sir Robin Murray who, despite his titles, is notorious for unscientific language and is disgraced by his propaganda around the term ‘skunk’. He even purports to have authored scientific studies on the subject but when you actually read them they’re about ‘high potency cannabis’ with widely varying THC content, no controls and very little scientific rigour. They have nothing to do with the indica dominant strain of skunk which represents a tiny proportion of the cannabis available in Britain. It’s a term deliberately intended to cause fear and panic amongst the uninformed and that, of course, is the reason that it’s used in the title of Mary’s campaign group.
One day, those that have been misled by Mary and her colleagues will realise that the only effective way to reduce the harms around cannabis is to take the market out of the hands of criminals and introduce responsible regulation to ensure quality, balanced cannabinoid content and age restrictions on sales. That Britain has one of the lowest ages at first use of cannabis in the world is the best indicator of what a disastrous policy we follow. Mary would have us move even further in that direction. This is why she’s dangerous, dangerous to our children, our society and to truth.