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Free Speech - Biggin' up Bristol

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James Emtage James Emtage | 13:40 UK time, Wednesday, 16 May 2012

I was gonna clean my room, until I got high. Or so said Afroman. 

But with a recent Guardian survey revealing that more Brits have tried cannabis than they have energy drinks, maybe he was right.

So Free Speech has decided to head to Bristol for a debate on the legalisation of drugs, live tonight at 8pm.  

It’s a topic that has sparked MASSIVE conflict online already, with hundreds of you posting reactions to our drugs video we launched in last week’s blog. If you haven’t yet watched it, check it out below:

View the full blog post to access video content. In order to see this content you need to have both Javascript enabled and Flash installed. Visit BBC Webwise for full instructions

But we’re not just talking drugs tonight. No no… we’re also talking about the big issues you’ve been stirring up over the last month on our Facebook and Twitter. One of those issues is unemployment, where a recent Bristol study found that 56% of young black males are out of work. We’ll be asking whether employers need to take some kind of positive action and actively give young black men more opportunities.

We’re also talking private schools, sexism in rap music and a little bit of footie, if we have time. Cos that’s what you’ve been talking to us about, and every Free Speech show is defined by what you’re discussing.

Joining Jake and Michelle is an awesome line up of opinion makers, movers and shakers:


Panellist - Jamal Edwards


Jamal Edwards: Founder of online youth channel SB.TV, Jamal is one of the most sought after young entrepreneurs of the moment. 



Panellist - Cherry Healey

Cherry Healey: The star of many a quirky BBC3 documentary, Cherry is known for asking questions and getting answers on subjects people might otherwise ignore. You can read her own blogs here



Panellist - Kojo

Kojo: Dubbed 'The Fresh Prince Of Hackney' Kojo is a talented comedian, DJ and Choice FM Breakfast Show presenter. 

Panellist - Alexandra Swann


Alexandra Swann: Once described as ‘the future face of the UK Independence Party’, Alexandra is a rising star in the world of right wing politics.

But we don’t just want to hear what these four have to say. We want to know what you think about what they have to say, and we measure that using our amazing twitter based opinion tracker: The Power Bar. 

Using the right twitter hash tags you can say whether you agree or disagree with each panellist, and in real time you’ll charge their power bar either up or down. 


The Free Speech     power bar.


If you’re not on Twitter then chill your beans and hop on to Facebook instead. We’ve got hundreds of people posting all the time giving their thoughts on the daily debates, both on and off air. 

And if you’re a social media sloth and aren’t on either, you can leave a comment in the box below. Michelle will be reading as many comments as she can live throughout the show from Twitter, Facebook and the blog – so get commenting. NOW!

Free Speech is on an earlier time slot this week: 8pm, BBC3, Wednesday 16th May.  


  • Comment number 1.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 2.

    The problem we have in this country is not a trickle anymore its a raging flood. More and more young people are trying many different types with serious consequences not limiting it to the weekend but through the week AND whilst they are school we need to address this issue now and believe me Cannabis is dangerous we as a family have lived with the consequences of our son/brother smoking this from an esarly age moving on to stronger fixes and now has spent most of his teenage years in prison

  • Comment number 3.

    Let's look at the whole 'weed problem' and what it would actually do to an economy, people will say 'weed' is going to help an economy but how will it? If there is a tax on weed, it will be a super tax, great, right?

    No, not really since weed is so easy to produce and make, then why would someone realistically buy something which is so easy to make, and cheap? Then you must look at what effect 'weed' and other drugs would do to an economy, let's look at the productivity that weed will have on work. To the women who said 'Kids should be able to take weed if they have a hard time' so, basically when life gets tough find an easy way out?

    Many people take drugs when they're bored, so why should we let them waste that free time, they could be doing something more productive, something that would help them in future work, helping the economy more than having more 'lazy' people in the economy.

  • Comment number 4.

    This is the first time I have seen this program and I am quite shocked at how inarticulate the female presenter is. Is this supposed to be reflective of how young people speak, a reflection of our education system or did she get the job as a result of positive discrimination? I am absolutely against positive discrimination.

  • Comment number 5.

    The proble in youth unemployment withing the UK rest on the fact that there is a lack of accessment when it comes to gane qualification.
    I personally think there is a need for a referendum and find out what is the skill this country lack of .e. in the UK alone there is more interior disigners and fotografers than the whole demand of Europe.

  • Comment number 6.

    What are the stats for white males in the uk?
    I cant find work. Why???

  • Comment number 7.

    We can talk all day, and all night, about 'blacks' not being recruited for a job, but, look at it from a businesses point of view, we're in a double dip recession if you hadn't heard already, and with the stigma and the political correctness in the world, a business must be careful with what they do. They don't want to hire someone of an ethnic background, give them a job that someone might find 'racist' example imagine if what people would say if the school cleaners where all black?

    How 'correct' would that look? If you want this discrimination to stop, then sort out the political correctness!

  • Comment number 8.

    I strongly argue against the idea that people are unemployed by the colour of their skin. the short film that was just aired showed how someone with black skin colour makes you an 'outcast'. everyone have equal oppertunities, people with some health problems still get jobs despite having problesm such as scizophrenia, or depression.

    employers will hire the person most suitable for the job, not based on their skin colour, age, health and gender, everyone has equal oppertunities and saying that you wont get a job because of your skin colour is a horrible excuse.

  • Comment number 9.

    I've had 2 "reply's" from 200+ job apps since october... both no. Go figure

  • Comment number 10.

    drugs are the worsed ever in the united kingdon and i the usa i would advise that both countries unite and make a solution between these problems e.g. ilegalize drugs

  • Comment number 11.

    stop calling legal highs legal highs .. thay are desighner drugs ,,research cheicals,,

  • Comment number 12.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 13.

    Talk properly. stop using "blood" as a word. Do you talk like that when your in an interview? do you write that on a job app??

  • Comment number 14.

    The result as people be sexist and racist more people are losing there rights so i advice the govermont to stop this situation and solve it!

  • Comment number 15.

    I think it is hard for all young people to get jobs i think there should be more jobs for everyone.i think the goverment should legalise drugs tax the drugs and use the money to sort the country out and create more jobs for everyone no ethnic minority should get first chance it should be equal for everyone. This country is already to scared of being called racist they should stop worrying and just sort this country out the goverment need to grow a pair of balls and get on with doing what they get paid for.

  • Comment number 16.

    Private education be banned? Yeah that'll help an economy, don't you think?

    Also, why should you care if you went to public or private education, look at Lord Alan Sugar, look what he has done, then look at his education and background.

  • Comment number 17.

    there are millions of drugs and some are benifical both mental and physicaly....all drugs should be controld and tested ,,,,,coffe tea nicotine painkillers are all just as harmfull as any other drug,, why are drugs demonised

  • Comment number 18.

    private schools shouldn't get banned, it help people with talent and they need to show it, in normal school there are misbehaving children effecting others education. it wouldn't be fair on us students who care about our school work and got a better opputinitey thrown away from us because people aint happy about others getting more education.

  • Comment number 19.

    Just because you went to a private school does not mean you will get the best education, your education depends on your teachers and your willingness to learn. Likewise going to a public school develops you as a person more than if you went to a private in the end you become independent, in the end I feel that things should be kept the way it is.

  • Comment number 20.

    i know 100s of people that use illegal drugs that have kids family and lead a fullfilld and happy family life ,,there is a wright time and a wrong time to do anything ,,

  • Comment number 21.

    I would like to ask why are we not using Industrial Hemp?
    Petrol can be replaced with Bio-diesel which is good for the environment.
    Trees can be saved and make paper from hemp, its lasts longer.
    Fabrics, textiles and medicine can also be created.

  • Comment number 22.

    A simple rule of business, also give what is demanded, if you don't see the demand for as many female rappers, then why would you supply them?

    You wouldn't sell tea-bags, if everyone wanted ice-cream, would you now?...

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    people have been useing drugs since the beggining of humanity, all tribes and all cultures, with no problems to there way of life ,,all drugs can be used responsibley ,,with EDUCATION and control,

  • Comment number 25.

    My thoughts: look legalise weed, it will bring more people into this country looking for a LEGAL high, instead of being a back ally deal it will be in shops funding into the government, DONT put super high prices on it or it will just be another back ally thing, It's healthier than alcohol at the end of the day and look at the dutch they seem to be alright. other than the drug problem alot has to change about this country, which ill explain as more questions pop up about it

  • Comment number 26.

    amentia legalizing cannabis would open jobs so people would be using there free time and earning and then feeding the economy with the tax that is taken off there wages, also why can heroin addicts be aloud methadone to "rehabilitate" when they could just take it and go and get heroin anyway? why cant decent people who suffer from depression anxiety diabetes etc be denied medicine? and cannabis would help work it's called sativa it would also stop it being tedious or up tight that's if you can even get a job in this society

  • Comment number 27.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 28.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 29.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 30.

    Life is about enjoying we are all individuals on a life we create for are selfs

  • Comment number 31.

    Rasafari is a religion in self belief and music art culture food cuisine English roots

  • Comment number 32.

    @legalize, okay, read and sit down.

    Create jobs, okay that's great, but, guess what Jobs create costs, increase costs you in turn MUST increase the selling price of the good, that +a Super tax, you really think people won't still sell it with out the tax? You know, like a 'drug dealer' who already sells weed, and narcotics (see I never classed weed as a narcotic) you think they will just sit back and say
    'oh, look Weed is being super taxed I could sell it for less, but, that means I'd have to sell it with out tax shame it's illegal for me to do so'. Of course they're not going to say it, a legal weed would then create a black market, which of course is a market failure. Also at the 'deny medication', okay, let's look, a medical company finds a USP for there weed, they manage to have a patent on it, this lasts for 20 years, now since these are the only ones who can make this 'weed' they can sell it for what ever they want, it's a monopoly, this in turn will increase the cost on the consumer.

    It's not hard to find weed. As you should know.

    Another thing, the amount of testing that would be needed for 'weed' to go on sale in the Uk would have a negative effect on our health service, which we are already cutting jobs in. Hey, ho, let's make weed legal, invest in researchers then once research is finished we have more structural unemployment, then let's put weed on sale with massive tax! Great idea, but, oh wait, what happens if weed then turns out to be bad, who's fault is it then?

    The governments fault, like always I guess. So weed is bad, has long-term health problems for us, does that mean we need to waste yet more money that we need 'helping' those from taking something that was deemed safe by a goverment?

    Also, don't even think about brining the 'revenue wasted on jail time for people who carry weed' argument up {I know you haven't just don't}, since I explained before, instead of going to jail for carrying a drug, they'd just get done for not paying tax, and not declaring it either, doesn't help at all.
    At the end of the day, it's best kept illegal. If you want it, you can go find it.

  • Comment number 33.

    It should be a person's civil liberty to use drugs. Who is the government to imprison someone for inhaling a plant, or eating a mushroom? Why do few people realise how fundamentally totalitarian this is?

    Yes, they should be discouraged, and everyone should be taught the facts, but drugs should be legal.

    All making it illegal does is a) make it more dangerous. b) causes crime.

    If it were legal, all drugs could be purchased safely, and the drugs could meet a government standard. They would not be sold to children (dealers don't ID, shops do). the drugs would be taxed and regulated like alcohol.

    This would take the drug money out of the hands of criminal gangs, and bring a huge amount of money in for the economy.

    The truth is, that even with the ‘war on drugs’, I could probably pick up some heroin tomorrow (I never would, but still). It clearly hasn't taken drugs away from people who want to use drugs. All it has done is damage society, and imprison otherwise good citizens.

    And of course, with cannabis, there's all the medical benefits, all of the industrial uses (paper, clothing etc can all be made from cannabis), agricultural uses, and virtually harmless recreational effects.

    Drugs should be legalised, but not encouraged. Strange how cool the government is with alcohol, even though it's more dangerous than a large number of illegal drugs, including the class A drug MDMA.


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