08 May DAILY MAIL. Dangerous, Misguided Scaremongering From Susan Bedack Of SANE

Susan Bedack

Susan Bedack

Only The Daily Mail Suggests Cannabis Is Harmless

Only The Daily Mail Says Cannabis Is Harmless

Henry Bedack (Age 5) with his mother.

Henry Bedack (Age 5) with his mother.

Today’s ‘reefer madness‘ story in the Daily Mail is classic Fleet Street Mafia misinformation. What makes it different is that it is in the name of Susan Bedack, a sub-aristocracy socialite and, so the newspaper claims, chairman of appeals for the mental health charity SANE.

SANE is a respectable mental health charity founded by Marjorie Wallace. I know Marjorie. We have debated alongside each other on radio programmes in the past. Marjorie is no cannabis advocate except that she does recognise its potential in the treatment of mental health conditions and her position is usually considered and evidence-based, even if I can’t always agree with her. If she supports the dangerous and irresponsible content of this article it will be a severe blow to the credibility of SANE.

Ms Bedack is not mentioned on the SANE website nor in its latest accounts as holding any position as senior as the Daily Mail claims. Neither can the SANE office confirm that she holds such a position. I am waiting for Marjorie to call me back.

The article is a tragic story of Ms Bedack’s son Henry and his diagnosis with schizophrenia. Ms Bedack blames it all on cannabis and the article is skilfully constructed by one of the Daily Mail’s propagandists to maximise fear of cannabis and avoid any regulatory control of what is a tirade of lies, deceit and falsehood.

The first and simplest technique used is to publish the article as if it’s written by Ms Bedack. That way it’s an accurate report of her ‘opinion‘ and evades any regulatory control under the Editors’ Code for being “inaccurate, misleading or distorted”.

It is possible that Henry’s illness was caused by cannabis but the chances are so small as to be incredible. In typical Daily Mail fashion, the idea that cannabis may have “contributed to” or “precipitated” Henry’s illness becomes an absolute certainty that it was the one and only cause. This is nonsense, absolute hogwash and there is no scientific evidence that supports it. The most that can be said is that it is possible that cannabis may have been a component cause alongside many other factors.

What is truly idiotic about this article though is that even if you were to accept its premise, then Henry’s illness developed under a system where cannabis is banned. So the law did him absolutely no good at all. In fact, if cannabis is the cause of Henry’s illness then the people to blame are successive home secretaries who rather than base policy on evidence, act out of fear of what the Daily Mail might publish about them.

The law against cannabis causes far more harm than it prevents. In a responsibly regulated system it would be far more difficult for young people to get hold of cannabis. Also, legally available cannabis would not be the ‘moonshine weed‘ that prohibition has created. It would be a more balanced product so anyone who was vulnerable to high levels of THC would be safer.

There is so much else in this article which is wrong, misleading and which contributes to the disastrous misinformation about cannabis. Nothing is worse than lying to young people or their parents about drugs but that is exactly what the Daily Mail does. The misuse of the term ‘skunk‘, the blatant distortion of evidence on THC levels, the reliance on the notorious anti-cannabis campaigner Professor Robin Murray who is isolated in the scientific community by his unscientific approach to the subject. It all adds up to more misguided scaremongering which will do nothing to help anyone who may have a problem with cannabis. As with so much that the Daily Mail publishes, its effect will be to make the problem worse.