25 Aug Irresponsible, Reckless BBC Broadcasts Dangerous Claim That So-Called ‘Skunk’ is More Harmful Than Heroin.
“I would say give me a room full of heroin addicts than skunk addicts…
I remember saying to my older son I would prefer you to take heroin than to smoke skunk…
There will be generations of kids with severe mental health issues.”
Source: ‘Cannabis: Time for a Change?’ From 28:20
There is huge and justifiable righteous anger about the idiotic words spoken by this woman on the BBC Newsbeat documentary ‘Cannabis: Time for a Change?’
It would be easy to launch into a tirade against Ms Kulukundis but her words and their crass stupidity speak for themselves. I wonder how many kids, listening to her recommendation on the BBC’s ‘yoof’ channel will think ‘Well I’ve smoked weed loads of times with no trouble, now this woman who’s an expert says heroin is safer, maybe I’ll see if I can get hold of some.’
I understand that Ms Kulukundis supports the idea that cannabis with a higher proportion of CBD should be legally available instead of so-called ‘skunk’ which with zero or very little CBD dominates today’s illegal market. She deserves credit for this and I would be very surprised if she wasn’t already regretting the very serious mistake she has made.
Ms Kulukundis does however subscribe to the falsehood that cannabis is a major cause of mental health problems. The facts of hospital admissions and GP/community health service treatment prove this is not the case. While we shouldn’t turn away from protecting those very few people who can be vulnerable, it is about time that the media started reporting accurately instead of the gross distortions and misrepresentation seen recently, particularly from the brazenly dishonest and ‘fake news’ Daily Telegraph.
Far, far more serious and the place where responsibility really lies for this broadcast is with the BBC. Its negligence in allowing these words to be broadcast is unforgivable and CLEAR is pursuing a complaint. The BBC’s complaints procedure is of course notorious for its determination to brush aside viewers’ concerns with anodyne responses that mean nothing. Many don’t realise that until you get to stage three you’re not even communicating with the BBC but with Capita to whom it outsources its complaints handling. We will pursue this complaint until it reaches the BBC Editorial Complaints Unit and if necessary we will appeal it to OFCOM which, with the demise of the BBC Trust, is now the independent regulator.
It is a shame that the BBC has spoiled what is a clear shift in its position on cannabis. Instead of mindless obedience to the government’s bad science and propaganda it is now recognising that reform is the only rational way forward. As usual its coverage is dominated by stereotypical caricatures of what it regards as cannabis users. It still seems incapable of recognising that most of the three million regular cannabis consumers in the UK are not relics of the hippy era but hardworking people with families and ‘ordinary’ lifestyles. It also allowed its debate programme ‘Newsbeat Debates. Legalising Cannabis’ to be dominated by the ‘Gateway Theory’, an idea comprehensively disproven many times over, which even our prohibitionist government recognises is invalid. What is the point of debate if it is hijacked by misinformation and not informed by science and evidence?
The BBC should take the initiative in apologising, correcting and broadcasting a full explanation of why Ms Kulukundis’ claim is scientifically inaccurate and extremely dangerous. Sadly, it will almost certainly have to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide any meaningful response at all.