05 Aug PCC Complaint. The Daily Mail, 5th August 2011

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Sent: Friday, August 05, 2011 4:11 PM
Subject: Complaint against the Daily Mail, issue dated 5th August 2011

Dear Sirs,

"Lib Dems move to decriminalise ALL personal drug use and to allow controlled use of cannabis", the Daily Mail, 05-08-11

I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article which is still available online at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2022613/Lib-Dems-decriminalise-ALL-personal-drug-use-allow-controlled-use-cannabis.html

I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the Leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR), a UK political party, of P.O.Box 674, Salfords, Redhill, RH1 9BN. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below.

1. This article breaches the Editors' Code Of Practice clause 1.i) in that it publishes inaccurate, misleading and distorted information.

2. It also breaches clause 1.iii) in that it fails to distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact.

3. The article is presented as a news story, not an opinion piece. It should therefore be concerned only with facts – unless comment or conjecture is clearly distinguished.

4. In the ninth paragraph, the article states "When the Blair government reduced it to a Class C drug, overwhelming evidence from scientists about its psychotic properties swiftly caused a U-turn.".

This is inaccurate, misleading and distorted information. There was no "overwhelming evidence from scientists" at all. In fact, the U-turn and the return of cannabis to class B was directly in opposition to the consensus amongst scientists on the ACMD that it should stay in class C. See "Cannabis: Classification And Public Health" http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/publications/alcohol-drugs/drugs/acmd1/acmd-cannabis-report-2008

This report stated that:

"Although there is a consistent (though weak) association, from longitudinal studies, between cannabis use and the development of psychotic illness, this is not reflected in the available evidence on the incidence of psychotic conditions. The most likely (but not the only) explanation is that cannabis – in the population as a whole – plays only a modest role in the development of these conditions. The possibility that the greater use of cannabis preparations with a higher THC content might increase the harmfulness of cannabis to mental health cannot be denied; but the behaviour of cannabis users, in the face of stronger products – as well as the magnitude of a causal association with psychotic illnesses – is uncertain."

The only thing "overwhelming" about the "psychotic properties" of cannabis was the campaign in the tabloid press, principally the Daily Mail, to demonise and misinform in contradiction to the scientific evidence.

5. This is a particularly heinous example of inaccurate, misleading and distorted information. It is, in fact, deliberate falsification of the facts in support of a long and disgraceful record of misinformation. It is grossly irresponsible and must be corrected by a prominent apology and explanation of the true facts.

I would be grateful if you would deal with this complaint at your earliest convenience. I shall be happy to provide any further information required or to give oral evidence in support.

Yours faithfully,

Peter Reynolds