15 Dec Daily Telegraph Forced To Retract False Claim That “Cannabis As Addictive As Heroin”
The Daily Telegraph, 7th October 2014
On 7th October 2014, the UK media indulged in a frenzy of misreporting and reefer madness, claiming "cannabis as addictive as heroin".
Sky News kept this absurd claim on screen almost constantly from 6.00am until about 10.30am. The Daily Mail went for it with all guns blazing and a massive front page headline "THE TERRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT CANNABIS". The Daily Telegraph went even further. Its outrageous headline "Cannabis as addictive as heroin, major new study finds" was a blatant falsehood. The study said nothing of the sort.
The Daily Telegraph's report was riddled with further inaccuracy, distortion and the most ridiculous claims, no different from what was seen in the 1930s when we were told that cannabis makes white women promiscuous with black men. Fleet Street in 2014 is barely any different, riddled with lies and prejudice from top to bottom, ready to twist anything to sensationalise and mislead and with absolutely no moral or ethical compass to guide its journalists or protect its readers.
After two months of correspondence in which the newspapers fought tooth and nail to support their lies, they have finally caved in. The Daily Telegraph has changed its headline and published a footnote to its online article and published a correction in its print edition last Wednesday 10th December 2014.
The Metro has also published a full retraction of its addiction claim on its online article. We made no complaint against the Daily Mail. After nearly four years of persistent complaints about its cannabis reporting, it is much more circumspect about its claims and reserves its most blatant falsehood for headlines alone which neither the Press Complaints Commission (PCC) nor its illegitimate offspring the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) will consider. The Daily Mail knows exactly how to evade breaching the Editors' Code whilst still achieving its aims of demonising cannabis and cannabis users.
Disgracefully, neither Sky News nor OFCOM has yet responded to the complaint. This is the truth about media regulation in the UK. It doesn't really exist. Leveson was a total waste of time and taxpayers' money. David Cameron is putty in the hands of any media owner and his new culture secretary, Sajid Javid, is nothing but a media toady, a sycophant of the worst and most undignified kind, ready to roll over at the merest whim of a Fleet Street editor or an all-powerful broadcaster.
Make no mistake, it is the conduct of the media in the UK that intimidates our weak and spineless politicians and prevents them from rational drugs policy. At least one million people in the UK remain in pain, suffering and disability because they are denied access to medicinal cannabis which the scientific evidence proves would help them. These people's suffering is the responsibility of the cowards and lowlifes who control the media and who refuse to regulate it.
All the newspaper articles remain riddled with inaccuracies and, of course, the damage has already been done. These tiny corrections, three months after the event, will do nothing to reverse the false message that has already been delivered. This suits the media perfectly and demonstrates that UK media regulation is not just inadequate and useless, it is corrupt.
The Daily Telegraph, 10th December 2014