16 Apr PCC Complaint. The Daily Telegraph, 16th April 2014

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—– Original Message —–

From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Cc: [email protected] ; [email protected] ; [email protected]
Sent: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 3:45 PM
Subject: Complaint against The Daily Telegraph, issue dated 16th April 2014

Dear Sirs,

“Even casual use of cannabis alters brain, warn scientists”, The Daily Telegraph, 16-04-14

I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article, a copy of which is available online:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/healthnews/10768847/Even-casual-use-of-cannabis-alters-brain-warn-scientists.html

The study on which the article is based is also available online: http://jn.sfn.org/press/April-16-2014-Issue/zns01614005529.pdf

I make the complaint on my own account but also in my capacity as the Leader of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, a UK political party, of 42-46, Bethel St, Norwich, Norfolk. NR2 1NR. For the purposes of correspondence, please use my personal address as below.

1. The article breaches clause 1.i) of the code 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. I recognise that the article is intended to be partial, it is clearly unbalanced, quotes evidence only supporting one point of view and is highly misleading. I am aware that the PCC either cannot or will not enforce the requirement not to mislead but what the newspaper cannot do is to publish comment or opinion which is based on inaccurate or distorted information.

4. In the first sentence the article states “Experimenting with cannabis on a casual basis damages the brain permanently, research has found.”

These claims are neither explicitly stated nor implied in the study. The words “damage and “permanent do not even appear in the paper.

5. In the second sentence the article states: “…no one under the age of 30 should ever use it, experts said.”

There is no such statement in the paper and Dr Hans Breiter, the author, only says “I’ve developed a severe worry about whether we should be allowing anybody under age 30 to use pot”. This is wholly different from the absolutist, distorted “experts said” comment. The experts said no such thing.

6. In the sixth paragraph the article states: “The scientists found that the more cannabis the 40 subjects had used, the greater the abnormalities.”

There were only 20 cannabis users studied.

7.The article is a distortion of the study which it reports on, not to say a completely misleading picture of the current research on cannabis use which shows many beneficial effects including its use as a neuroprotectant and its ability to stimulate neurogenesis and repair brain damage. It is a disgrace to journalism.

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