02 Sep PCC Complaint. The Mail On Sunday, 2nd September 2012

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: [email protected]
Sent: Sunday, September 02, 2012 2:10 PM
Subject: Complaint against The Mail on Sunday, issue dated 2nd September 2012

Dear Sirs,

“We’ll go down as the nation that smoked itself stupid”, The Mail on Sunday, 02-09-12

I wish to make a complaint concerning the above article which is still available online at: http://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2012/09/well-go-down-as-the-nation-that-smoked-itself-stupid.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. 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. It also breaches clause 12.i) in that it makes prejudicial or pejorative reference to what the author frequently describes as addiction and therefore an illness.

4. It also breaches the requirement in the preamble to the code to maintain the highest professional standards in that it is gratuitously abusive and offensive towards cannabis users.

5. This complaint needs to be seen in the context of the Mail newspapers’ systematic campaign over many years of misinformation, dishonesty, falsification and distortion of evidence concerning cannabis.

6. In the first pararaph the article states: “Cannabis makes you stupid. I know this already, from the feeble arguments and moronic insults that I get from the dope lobby when I argue for harsher, more effective laws against this dangerous, unpredictable poison.”

a. This is inaccurate, misleading and distorted information. Cannabis does not make you “stupid“. Professor Sir Robin Murray of the Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London who participated in the study said: “Let’s keep some perspective. This is not huge, You’re not becoming completely demented. Of course, it’s better to still have your extra eight IQ points, but it’s not something that’s enough to draw medical attention.” Cannabis is not a “poison” as agreed by the Independent Reviewer in his letter of 12th July 2011 in which he said “…you have, I believe, demonstrated that cannabis cannot accurately be described as a poison…“. The study also made it clear that cannabis is safe for adults. Professor Terrie Moffitt said “…cannabis is safe for over-18 brains, but risky for under-18 brains.”

b. The use of the terms “stupid“, “feeble” and “moronic” is, as set out above, gratuitously abusive and offensive, in breach of the preamble to the code and, by the author’s own claims, clause 12.i)

7. In the third paragraph the article states: “A highly reputable study traced a sample of more than 1,000 people from birth for 38 years. They controlled for all the other variables.” This is inaccurate, misleading and distorted information. The study traced people from the age of 13 to the age of 38, for 25 years. They did not control “for all the other variables“. This is impossible in any such study. The NHS assessment was that “The most important limitation is that, despite the author’s efforts to adjust for confounders, it is always possible that other factors (for example, socioeconomic factors or other unmeasured mental health issues) influenced the results and were underlying the apparent association. It is important to note that this research does not prove that there is a direct causal link (that is, teenage cannabis use leads to an IQ decline) only that there is an association.” (See: http://www.nhs.uk/news/2012/08august/Pages/Does-smoking-dope-turn-you-into-one.aspx)

8. Throughout the article the author’s opinions are intertwined with both accurate and inaccurate references to the study. The article is clearly and blatantly in breach of clause 1.iii) in that it fails to distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact. More than that, it deliberately confuses comment, conjecture, fact and falsehood and is a disgraceful example of misinformation and mendacious propaganda.

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