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James Alexandrou on filming Cannabis: What's The Harm?

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Dana Stevens | 10:30 UK time, Thursday, 27 January 2011

Cannabis: What's The Harm? (James Alexandrou)

You'll probably recognise the presenter of Cannabis: What's The Harm? Yes it's the actor who played Martin Fowler in EastEnders, James Alexandrou. After the newspapers published a photo of him with a joint in 2008 he found himself caught up in a media storm about cannabis. And the drug continues to be a controversial topic today sparking passionate discussions on both sides of the legalisation debate. So as part of the Dangerous Pleasures Season BBC Three is exploring what the effects of cannabis really are.

I spoke to James about making the series and I started by asking him whether the media attention on his own life prompted him to take part in the programme....

JAMES: Originally when I was approached to do the documentary I was very wary because of being associated with cannabis before and how scared I was when that picture first slipped out into the papers somehow. But as I remembered back to when it happened the reaction from people about that was actually pretty much indifferent. People were like 'I saw you in the papers' but it wasn't 'you're a bad person' or 'you're brilliant'. And I think that's the public attitude towards cannabis - the majority of people are indifferent. There is a very vocal minority that are against it and for it but the majority of people are quite indifferent towards it.

Apart from the fact that I was on the telly for a little while when I was younger, I feel that I am quite a normal, average 25 year old guy who grew up on the outskirts of London. I have smoked in the past and it's around and I find myself quite average in that way. So I felt like I could do this project and ask the right questions.

In the programme lots of people were willing to open up about their relationship with cannabis and talk about it on the telly. Were you surprised by the amount of people willing to be filmed and to be completely open about it?

Cannabis: What's The Harm (cannabis plant)

JAMES: Yeah and initially not only surprised but quite worried for them as well. I was like, why would you come on the TV and do this and talk about this? Why would you admit that you've grown drugs and you've smoked drugs? But through the process of doing it I was actually coming around to the fact and thinking why not? Why shouldn't these people be able to talk about it?' Why should people be so paranoid and so ashamed of something which they feel is not harmful to themselves or anyone else? And that's the question we're trying to answer in the programme - what is the harm of this drug? It's not just physical, it's social and it has an impact on the health system and crime and everything else.

You went to film in California where cannabis is legalised but regulated, how did you find that experience?

JAMES: It was a place I've been to before but I've never seen it in this light before. Cannabis is legalised there for medicinal use which on paper sounds pretty bland. But you go there and it's quite an exciting, passionate community of people that are behind this and I think that they've gone a step in the right direction with how they deal with cannabis. You've got to go to a doctor, get diagnosed, you've got to then go back and go to a dispensary and go through a whole service and process there before you finally get the end product, which is weed. It's not about wanting some weed and you go out and get it from some kid on a street corner. There's a whole education around it and there's a whole culture there. Here it's very underground and I think in that respect harmful.

The fact it's underground here in the UK may lead to some of the most harmful sides to cannabis. It leaves it open to exploitation of certain people, like the guy I met in the second programme who was smuggled into this country just to be locked in a house to grow cannabis. He had no idea what he was being brought here for and even now he is too scared to reveal his identity.

Watch this web exclusive clip of James visiting the world's largest cannabis dispensary:

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You can watch more clips from the programme on the Cannabis: What's The Harm? website.

What are you hoping that people will take away most from watching the series?

JAMES: I think again I can speak from what I got from it and hope that people get the same as that, this idea about education on the subject really. It's not just this little green leaf you buy off the street; this is so much more complex than that. There's all different types of weed out there that do all sorts of different things to your body which I wasn't aware of and I think if you are going to take a drug you should make an effort to find out as much about that drug as possible.

James Alexandrou presents the first part of Cannabis: What's The Harm? tonight at 9pm on BBC Three and part two will be on next Thursday 3rd February at 9pm. Dana Stevens is Content Producer for BBC Three online.

Add your comment.


  • Comment number 1.

    I smoked cannibas all day every day, a joint just like it was a fag. I did this from the age of 16-20... I have now stopped, I haven't smoked any since September 2008. When I was smoking it all the time, I could quite happily agree that it was harmless, alcohol is worse. Now I disagree, I am a diffrent person now I have stopped, I am enthusiatstic about my life, driven, hard working... I wasnt like that at all before, I was just a stoner. I still suffer paranoia, I have hallucinations, and I have panic attacks and Im certain its all down to me, because I used to smoke so much. I dont think it is a problem if you have the occasional splif every once in a while, but smoking it every day? You have a problem, and you will feel SO much better if you give up. People say its not addictive, but it is!

  • Comment number 2.

    At last, a factual, decent program about the worlds most used illegal drug. Although one of the coppers needs to get his facts straight, he said you need at least one 600W light to grow cannabis, but this is not true, it can be grown with much lower power lights, even household 'energy saving' bulbs!
    Also I'm glad you got Professor David Nutt on the programme.
    One other small problem though, saying the police think cannabis should be illegal, that's just the official line, in keeping with government policy. Ask any copper 'off the record' and I'm sure a lot would disagree with the government!

  • Comment number 3.

    Having just caught the end of the program, where I saw the police raid, I was intrigued by James' comments regarding the guys front door and the fact that because of what the guy was doing was illegal, he would be responsible for repairs to the front door. On 21st Dec 2007, Derbyshire Police (assisted by South Yorkshire) knocked down my front door and had a warrant to search my house on the basis that they were looking for class A, B and C drugs that I had supposedly been dealing in Sheffield. The funniest thing was, I am the most unlikely person to have ever been involved with drugs. As it goes, they obviously found nothing at all in the house, down the garden, in the garage, in the shed, in the loft, under the bath. They turned the entire house upside down, unwrapped christmas presents and left me with a door that was completely unsecure. Nobody was arrested or prosecuted and the police left empty handed. I was left, with my partner to clean up a horrible mess and to try and restore some form of order to our lives just 4 days before christmas. This whole event was a massive strain on our relationship and caused many arguments and him to doubt me. I spent many hours writing letters to both police forces, the independent police complaints commission and my local MP - asking for someone to pay to replace my door. I have been unable to find any information about whether I was responsible to pay for the damage or not - at the end of the day, I am completely innocent. Why should I have to pay for a new front door (which I have paid for now out of my own pocket, 2 and a half years after the incident!)... Has anyone else ever been in my situation? Does anyone have any advice about it?

  • Comment number 4.

    Im sorry but there are far worse things that people can do than smoke a joint. i smoked cannibas nearly every day for 6 years and it did me no harm i was still the same person then as i am now the main reason i gave up is because it costs far too much, you dont know where its coming from most the time and the leagal risks are too high. Pardon the pun. The truth is the people that say oh it made me paranoid or it made me depressed or its really adictive are the people who are predisposed to these mentle issues and should avoid all drugs because at the end of the day if your not entirly stable and please dont think im taking the mick when i say that, you shouldnt be taking mind altering drugs. At least cannabis is a naturaly growing drug, yes it has been messed around with to make it stronger which i strongly disagree with, but at least it isnt some toxic concoction mixed up in a lab. The fact that its class B along with speed really gets my goat when ketamine a very strong anesthetic is only a class c.

  • Comment number 5.

    did no-one else think this was a man atoning for his sin(of getting caught smoking pot) so he can work for the BEEB again?

    a 14 yo old stoner is allowed to confirm to Martin (or whatever his name is) that cannabis is addictive? how many 14 yo do you know with a psychopharmaceutical degree because it would take that level of understanding to convince me , what about you?

    and 3 reformed gang members you wouldn't trust with your name let alone anything more sensitive say "yeah , nutters , all dopers are nutters" and you believe them?

    nutt was given lip service , nothing more , the police the lions share "doing their bit to make our streets safer" . jesus , does anyone buy this BS?

    he derided the california experience as "medication" yet fawned over the unfortunate guy with ME who was transformed by cannabis with no neurological contraindications obvious.

    as an investigative reporter Martin Fowler makes a good soap actor : don't give up the day job.

    most cogent remark in the whole programme?

    Nutt : "no matter how much cannabis you consume you will never die from it".

    think of any other popular recreational "drug" and it has a toxicity level , cannabis doesn't , why are politicians afraid of it?

    sorry , not impressed with it's politically correct neutrality.

  • Comment number 6.

    Thank u so much for making this documentary to many proportion criticise others for smoking cannibis but no one ever stops and thinks maybe some people do it because its helps them. Im 21 and have bi polar i've been smoking cannibis since i was 13 because i find it helps take away anger and stress i dont smoke it alday i smoke when i wake up and when i go to bed to help me sleep and as and when i need to. I must admit i do also smoke it with sum of my friends but we r never silly we just stay at his flat and chill out and generally smokw more than we drink and dnt cause anyone any harm we just keep it to ourselfs. Some of my friends say im addicted but im not i can quick when i like it just calms me down. Although my family do not agree with me smoking it they know and understand it has and does help me in difficult situations and i respect others may not like it so i have my own shed so i can sit out of the way from others so they do not hav to see it or smell it.Although i dont think cannibis should be legalised as its not always used sensible but i think it should be used for medical purposes as it can help in some situations and i think the government/police take it to far how many of them can truthfully say they have never smoked it. Cannibis is much safer than alcohol and it has never been proven that it has been the cause of peoples death i think the government needs to get off its high horse and look at the facts and seriously consider the pros and cons of legalising it for medical reasons at least. It was nice to see that many people in britain use it also for medical reasons and some professionals completeley agree it should be available for medical reasons. I will not feel guilty or criticised for doing something that helps me get through a long term illness

  • Comment number 7.

    Hello all, I'm Jason from the programme.

    I'd like to thank James and all the crew, I really could not have had a better day with you all.

    Thank you also to the BBC for the documentary. I fully admit to have held trepidations over doing it, but feel you treated the subject matter respectfully and with balance in mind.

    I fully admit to personal ignorance around cannabis a few years ago - and drug policy in general - in 2004 I began my research in earnest and have not stopped. I now use my time to try and inform of what I have learnt and to place into context the media fallacies that have come to surround cannabis in particular.

    If anyone would like to find me and say hello, I have a blog and video channel, and everyone is welcome:

    Video Channel:


    Once more, thank you to all that I met during this programme and wishing everyone my best, Jason.

  • Comment number 8.

    I hear there is now a growing "Grow your own tobacco" industry developing in the UK. They call it "the weed you can grow without getting busted!!"

    One tobacco seed company in Essex, offers over 30 different types of tobacco seeds for people to grow their own tobacco in their garden.

    This is a more interesting story than the one about Cannabis.

  • Comment number 9.

    The law has made what is a comparatively harmless drug, Cannabis, into a harmful one. Education, of course, is key to ensuring safer drug use all round. Alcohol is more harmful to the individual and society than cannabis - fact. Tobacco is more harmful to the individual than cannabis - fact. The greatest dangers of cannabis derive from the government's policy of prohibition - fact. This is a policy which forces users to become criminals and therefore risk going to jail; forces users to fraternize with knife wielding dealers; forces users to buy an inferior product, one that is laced with other more dangerous chemicals, or even glass to bulk out the cannabis; forces users to buy a product which has been produced in such a way as to breed out the CBD of the plant, which balances the effects of the THC. Of course there are dangers in taking cannabis, especially to younger users whose brain is still developing, and especially from a cannabis with a high level of THC. But the inherent dangers of cannabis are fairly low when compared to alcohol and tobacco. I urge those concerned about the government's misuse of science in forming its drugs policy to join Professor David Nutt's campaign for a grown up debate about drugs. Just say no to the govenment's drug classification table - it is a lie. Just say no to the government's policy of prohibition - its bad for your health.

  • Comment number 10.

    Having been turned down by "Bart" as he canvassed users on some forums to contribute to the program. I feel it was too youth biased but then BBC3 is aimed at that demographic, but there are some of us that have been around cannabis since the 70's and have seen the damage the criminal injustice system inflicts on people for their choice of relaxation. I hope this will be highlighted in part 2.
    Much better than the inaccurate "How drugs work : cannabis" propaganda you screened a few weeks ago that "The Daily Fail" picked up on a comment I made on the Peter Reynolds blogg (which is reccomended reading for anyone with an interest in drugs legislation and why it should be changed).

    So BBC3 - Here's my challenge.
    We want a "Question time" style follow-up program with Scientists, politiitions, media & public involved.
    Failing that - Any chance you can screen "THE UNION" - that'll upset the Daily Fail for sure....

    I'll give you a "B" for this one.

  • Comment number 11.

    This was a fairly good documentary but did not go far enough the real story here is the medical benefits that cannabis has been proven to have. Everybody and I mean every human being has cannabinoid receptors all through out the body. Cannabis is the most natural cure on the the planet and it is illegal! Cannabis has been proved to cure cancers and tumors as well as diabetes and other terrible illnesses. The fact is that the only real argument against cannabis is the theory that it can harm people mentally. Some of the posts here have said cannabis has done this to them this is not scientific proof. If the government could prove that cannabis was to blame for an increase in mental illness then it's scientific proof would have been published and given to all the media. No such proof is here even though many studies (funded buy governments) have tried and failed to prove this. Cannabis smoking in young people is not good and could possibly cause an already unstable mind to become more unstable particularly if your smoking a high THC and low CBD strain of cannabis. CBD has in actual fact been proven to have anti psychotic effects. If cannabis production was regulated instead of being criminalized you would not find cannabis strains with crazy amounts of THC and very low CBD. Cannabis has been used for over 5000 years and in that 5000 years there has not been 1 recorded death attributed to cannabis the reason is that it is impossible to die from either eating or smoking cannabis. To actually die from smoking cannabis you would have to smoke more than 100 ounces within 15 minutes and then the actual cause of death would be suffocation not the cannabis plant it's self. I noticed that many people said that they were addicted to cannabis but no mention was made to the fact that they all put tobacco in the joints so in actual fact it's the tobacco that they are really addicted to not the cannabis. I have yet to hear of a pure cannabis user getting any terrible side affects from not being able to smoke cannabis, at least nothing like the side affects from caffeine or tobacco. I would like to applaud the makers of this documentary for doing a decent job of putting forward a fairly balanced argument. However I would also like to inform people of other great documentaries that will give you some great facts about cannabis a very new documentary called What If Cannabis Cured Cancer by Len Richmond is great as well as, Run From The Cure by Rick Simpson and the BBC Horizon program did a great documentary on cannabis too. If you haven't seen these already then I strongly recommend them. To all the people that believe in cannabis as a medicine keep up the fight and one day hopefully soon we will see justice done to this amazing plant and we can all laugh at the crazy propaganda that has been around for far too long. Thanks for reading

  • Comment number 12.

    You spoke to one scientist, as though anecdotes should carry more weight than peer reviewed scientific evidence. You were 'embedded' with the police, but while in america never spoke to L.E.A.P. (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition). You pointed to young children with problems but never pointed out dispensaries require proof of age dealers don't. You spoke to a couple random people using marijuana for mild ailments, but not one of the millions of Aids, cancer, Parkinson, multiple sclerosis sufferers. People are treated for sex addiction should that be illegal? The fact remains it is harmless while acetaminophen kills tens of thousands every year. No mention of the mountains of evidence on it's cancer PREVENTING effects. Truly an ugly emotional propaganda piece only fox news could be proud of. Canada has conducted senate investigations into the harm those in depth findings are also available.

    Your police aren't ruining thousands of lives over home wine making kits and alcohol kills people. Journalism is about speaking truth to power not feeding government lies to the people.

  • Comment number 13.

    Everyone just watch - The Union: The Business Behind Getting High

    A real documentary on how the government is lying to you about cannabis and how so many pharmaceutical companies are profiting from this, plus private jails in America.

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm sorry, but you just cannot do a programme about cannabis without exploring the link with psychiatric problems. yes maybe some people feel they can cope better with some symptoms of bi-polar, but for others it can result in serious mental health problems - my son has had schizophrenia now for thirteen years. Not only may it well have contributed to early episodes, but it now means that he has to take high levels of medication to counteract the cannabis use. It is irresponsible not to include investigation into the dangers for vulnerable people; the trouble is, they seldom know who they are until it's too late.

  • Comment number 15.

    So far ive found this program really interesting, im not a smoker and have never tried cannabis but know a lot of people who have. Still seems up in there air where it here in the UK, I think its great its looking at both sides of the story such as Jason for medical relief. I think James is doing a great job presenting, look forward to the rest of the programs.

  • Comment number 16.

    I'm now 52, and my experience with weed goes back to when I was a curious 16 year old. During these years I was a very heavy smoker from the age of 31 to 40. It is very true that it did affect my ability to retain information. It wasn’t that I wasn’t able to remember anything, just that I had to focus more or study harder to be able to remember simple things. In spite of this, I was quite able to function very well in work and my everyday life. During my years of excessive use, I will admit there were occasions of paranoia, but this was not all the time, possibly the different weed I smoked had different side-effects. When I was 41 I moved to the UK and my daily use dropped to nil, simply because I wasn’t in touch with anyone who sold it. I've tried growing it, but it was more hassle than it was worth. Also, as I work for the government and I had to be aware of the risks I was taking.
    I find your programme very interesting, but would like to say that it is NOT addictive (unless the smoker is mixing it with tobacco, which is highly addictive and ruins the taste of the weed) I think the government have it all wrong. If weed were made legal and distributed legally we could solve a lot of the country’s debt issues. I hope programmes like this will raise awareness, exposing all of the facts for viewers to be able to make a fair judgement. There is so much conflicting research and views that it’s no wonder opinions are so extreme and confusing.
    Simply put, if tobacco and alcohol are legal, then why not pot?

  • Comment number 17.

    You said it '' over 2million people in the uk enjoy it in the uk'' the truth of the matter is that alchole is a very dangerous pleasure i read this on the national statistics website.
    The number of alcohol-related deaths in the UK has increased since the early 1990s, rising from the lowest figure of 4,023 (6.7 per 100,000 population) in 1992 to the highest of 9,031 (13.6 per 100,000) in 2008. In 2009 the number of deaths fell to 8,664 (12.8 per 100,000).

    Thats 8664 more than cannibis related deaths so it shouldnt really be seen as a ''DANGEROUS PLEASURE'' should it.
    the myth is that it causes psycosis and schizophrenia. but there is hardly any scietific evidence to support this!

    The main reason cannibis isnt legal in the UK is because it is near on impossible to tax something that You can grow in your garden shed! and the truth is if they legalise cannibis the purchase of other high tax substances ie alchole will drop! so the goverment will lose out on millions over a few years and the cant afford to do this!

    how can the government put a tax on cannibis? the truth is you cant! this is why the californian government are trying to sell cannibis cards! this is fine but i dont think this is the way forward they cant expect to keep that up long! BUT going by dutch law you can TAX a cannibis! they earn £500 million a year by taxing it as a product by taxing a shops overal income!our goverment are against dutch law because they still dont earn enough!

    To be honest i dont think medical cannbis is the way forward! if we followed dutch law we could soon earn BILLIONS in tax! i have been told the tax on cannibis is near on the same as petrol in the UK, EXTORTION!!!

    This is why us in the UK should be the first to legalise it properly and have a REVISED dutch law on cannibis to do this we legalise cannibis as a product!We keep small cannibis grows illegal and we authorise tertiary licenced companys to grow and harvest. the crop will then be sold(tax payed) to licenced bars and coffee shops to be sold to the public(tax payed again). we are eliminating all the crime growing familys and street dealers we see on tv out of it and are able to put a age limit on it like alchole! thus being only be able to buy it over the counter at licence outlets like in holland and the major supply chain of cannibis will be Regulated, limited, licenced and legit. Let alone saving us millions in police expenses, imprisionment and court cases!


    Becoming addicted to cannibis does make you lazy!!! Becoming a alcholic makes you stupid! dont be a fool in small doeses both are harmless.

  • Comment number 18.

    What a great factual account of cannabis use. What I'd like to add to to the debate is the fact that, as reported today, 10% of our children have mental health issues. The government has pledged a substantial amount of money to try and help those affected. I do believe that a high percentage of child with mental health issues will be drawn to early use of mind altering substances such as alcohol/cannabis. To suggest that cannabis causes these health issues is absurd, they were already there, in most cases. Yes, I agree that cannabis can be demotivating for some people, but the majority of regular smokers quite simply find it enjoyable. It clearly is far less harmful than alcohol, causes far less social issues and, as reported in this programme,keeps many people sane! Why can't we have the same freedom as californians? The benefits to our society would be phenomenal. As Professor Nutt rightly said, it is so difficult to change peoples attitudes to something that is classed as illegal. Just think of all the money that could be saved; police time/cost, courts, prisons. As long as there is demand, there will be cannabis available. The current system is in favour of supporting organised crime. Maybe there should be a day when all politians get stoned together and THEN debate the issue... gosh, we might never look back!

  • Comment number 19.

    Wow, going to the "expert" who has used for 3 years.. That kid just has not found himself and is destined to be a relative loser - He had preexisting social issues - Those are to be blamed for his consistent problems. Not cannabis.

    loveable - right - once again, 4 years by no means makes you an expert and the long termed exposure and use they are talking about is likely not even close to a quantity you could ever come across.

    14 Years I have smoked - 16 if you count the time I first lit up a spliff. I have stopped on multiple occasions out of requirement. I'm sorry but the biggest aspect that is missing from this show is well.. fact.... Mental and psychological problems may be brought to the forefront sooner in people with preexisting conditions.. this is proven. For those of us with no issues, we can smoke for life and not suffer.

  • Comment number 20.

    If the government could prove that cannabis was to blame for an increase in mental illness then it's scientific proof would have been published and given to all the media.... No such proof is here even though many studies (funded buy governments) have tried and failed to prove this. Cannabis smoking in young people is not good and could possibly cause an already unstable mind to become more unstable particularly if your smoking a high THC and low CBD strain of cannabis.

  • Comment number 21.

    James Alexandru opened the first programme with this statement.

    'Cannabis is the most popular drug in Britain with over 2 million people smoking it regularly.'

    That's a very bold statement but are we to believe that the much publicised alcohol use in Britain is a myth?

    Having a quick look on the internet suggests that there are in excess of 50 million drinkers in the UK. Admittedly these figures appear to be based on quite old data and I didn't actually search any further so perhaps this data is unreliable.

    However, I doubt the programme makers are trying to claim that alcohol is not a drug so, based on the above figure, is the programme suggesting that this country is home to more than 50 million cannabis users? That would mean, with a total population in excess of 62 million, that over 80% of the population are casual users or, if you prefer, 4 out of 5 people.

    A small oversight perhaps and maybe I am just being pedantic, but regardless of where one stands, if you open with an unqualified remark such as this does it not call into question the legitimacy of the rest of the programme?

  • Comment number 22.

    i don't see why the goverment have such a problem with it. Cannabis, weed, skunk, mary jane...whatever you want to call it. If people want to smoke cannabis then it's their own risk. the goverment need to realise that weed is not the drug thats killing millions of people every year. if they made cannabis legal then they do realise that crime rates will drop over night. there are rapists and murders out on the street everyday but the police are more worried about caughting all the weed dealers on the street. so they are arresting dealers and people have just go a £10 worth and there is a man down the street stabbing an innocent man for his phone. this is what the world have come to that they would rather be arresting someone who has chosen to smoke cannabis and then they get 15 YEARS! when the guy who took someones life gets 6 years and then serves 3. the goverment need to do some re-thinking about all these laws and start looking at whats more improtant. a life style or a innocent mans life...peace.

  • Comment number 23.

    Member question: I have smoked pot for a number of years as an antistressor. Currently I'm having thick sinus congestion and very bad headaches and sore throat. I also have ulcerative colitis. What treatments can help me regain my health as I am very tired and in a lot of discomfort? I want to quit the smoke altogether.

    Dr. Drew: You no longer use marijuana as a stress reducer. You are an addict and this addiction will not stop without treatment. I would suggest you look into Marijuana Anonymous. You need careful supervision when you stop this drug. There is an extraordinarily high incident of suicide in the first six months of marijuana abstinence.

    The syndrome of marijuana addiction is always the same: A profound euphoria is experienced, usually after the second or third exposure to it, and from that moment on the addict pursues, preoccupies, or uses that drug every day. Somewhere down the line, exactly what you are experiencing develops; the addict gets depressed, has trouble sleeping and being motivated. Of course, the addict's response is to smoke more or better pot to deal with "the stress," which only accelerates the decline into depression.

    David Drew Pinsky, M.D. (born September 4, 1958[1][2]), better known as Dr. Drew, is an American radio/television personality, board-certified internist and addiction medicine specialist.

    As a medical doctor, Pinsky is Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Keck School of Medicine at the University of Southern California, former Medical Director for the Department of Chemical Dependency Services at Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena, California,[3] staff member at Huntington Memorial Hospital, and a private practitioner.[4]

  • Comment number 24.

    If a 10 to 13 year old had an issue with cigarettes or alcohol I would find it as shocking as one who smokes weed. I don’t understand the point of that part of the programme. As far as calling weed addictive is not fair, these people are simply giving an opinion. I would like to see more statistics and evidence to prove this other than a layabout mom who spent her dole money on weed and cider to the point of losing her kids, along with a woman who runs these groups as a living; of course they are going to say there’s a problem.
    The final part of the show, to me, gave compelling evidence towards more control and the legalization of cannabis. Great programme BBC, well done. Let’s hope it opens the right eyes and some positive changes are made.

  • Comment number 25.

    Well, I've just watched prog 2 and found myself screaming at the TV - all of this organised crime is caused by the law - the prohibition of cannabis and yet this was not mentioned at all


    Prohibition is doing nothing to control drugs and is clearly causing so much harm, yet here again we have a programme which puts the government/police line without critical comment.

    Illegal cannabis is not controlled cannabis, why didn't you say so?

  • Comment number 26.

    Overall the two programmes were quite good, but I was expecting James to come to the only logical solution to the problem of 'organised crime', which is to legalise/normalise cannabis!
    Take away the massive, untaxed profits from the gangs and they won't have any reason to traffic Vietnamese/Chinese people to use as 'gardeners'.
    The government would save millions of tax payers money by not having to prosecute and incarcerate us stoners, and could even make money from growers/retailers taxes.
    Medical users would no longer risk going to prison for self medicating.

  • Comment number 27.

    Then legalise it!!!!!!

    would make life a lot easier for us all.

  • Comment number 28.

    hi my name is Ryan and i am Nathan;s older brother.
    James i really appreciate wat u have done !!
    please get in contact with me to have a chat thanks for ur time.
    keep up the good work up

  • Comment number 29.

    I use to some cannabis alot as a teenager , to be honest I never really saw the harm in it. I knew it could cause mental health issues, yet since most drugs legal and illegal have side affects to a percentage of the population it seemed the norm.
    After watching tonights episode, the one thing that really jumped out at me is; ok, its illegal, yet why does the goverment put its name to king sized rizla..? Ik onw alot of people that smoke cigrettes and legal smoking materials, yet they all they king sized rizla are only used for joints. Being an ex smoker myself, I remember buying rolling tobbacco and using small rizla because thats the most I could handle at one time. I know alot of older people that have smoked all there lives and they say the same thing.

    It feels like a very mixed message to say its ilegal, yet then supply all the products needed to smoke it. I guess this is an issue that will get talked about alot, yet it seems obvious to me that the only way to stop the criminal side of this is to legalise it. Let the goverment set up the farms and grow it. Then they could control it like in amsterdam and cetain parts od the USA ! I feel this is the only way to stop the crime that cannibis creates.

  • Comment number 30.

    All of the problems with cannabis shown in this second show are directly caused by prohibition! Does no one remember what happened in the USA during the twenties and thirties?

  • Comment number 31.

    The second program was very moving esp regarding the organised gangs. The best way of taking cannabis out of the criminals hands is to legalise/decriminalise it.
    Also the Treasury can tax cannabis, this money can then pay for a decent drug education scheme and clinics as well as pay for alot of other things.
    Also this would help medical patients who find cannabis helpful and allow pharmaceutial/medical companies to find more cures for illnesses.

  • Comment number 32.


    Well done for producing a great docuememntary addressing this problem in the uk.
    I myself am not a cannabis user but watched both episodes with a geeat degree of interest and found it very educating and alarming
    We need more young presenters like yourself addressing these topics. Documentaries like this one should be on prime time tv replacing programmes like the popular soaps we should be educating the young generations about the problems cannabis can cause along the cannabis chain and addressing these issues head on.
    James would love to see you in more like this


  • Comment number 33.

    I have been a cannabis smoker since i was 11, I am now 18 i started smokin it because i knew who people who did and was willing to try now it hasn't had a bad effect on me through smoking it. I personally think it effects people in different ways like people who do not leave there house would have severe problems before they smoked cannabis and the people who are paranoid and saying its addictive are liars as they would have smoked it and enjoyed the mellow chilled out happy buzz you get from it and thats why they carreid on smoking it but instead they locked there selves away from life and then there problems woould probably start. Now i know a lot of people who smoke it and not one of them are paranoid, scared to leave there house, here voices or any other so called problems people said they have got from cannabis. An yes i disagree with people being smuggled into the countrys for weed cultivation but if cannabis was legal and sold in a controlled way then there would be less crime, cannabis dealers will go out of business so the streets will be alot cleaner and they can work harder on the other drugs that are far more harmful than cannabis. Cannabis is grown from the earth it is a plant its on this earth for a reason and its not made with chemicals like alchol is and cigarettes and all them prescription drugs. Cannabis can not do any harm to a person it relax's the mind makes everything better, if it was legal the world would be alot more peaceful.

  • Comment number 34.

    just watched the second in the series. if only the programme had been called 'what's the solution?' it would have given someone the opportunity to say what millions of users, and non-users, believe the world over: legalise cannabis. an impressive programme for detailing the devastation caused to so many by the government's sick and perverse policy of prohibition. sadly, in its summation, the bbc chose to point the blame for the torture inflicted on immigrants by criminal gangs squarely at cannabis users. where was the voice of reason? for your lack of balance, aunty beeb, i'm sad to say you have allied yourself with the government, pharmacy companies and criminal gangs - the only profiters of the policy of prohibition. will someone give god a custodial sentence for growing his herb? craig.

  • Comment number 35.

    The laws in this country are archaic regarding 'soft' drugs in particular.
    There are literally millions of people in the UK alone who have had some experience of cannabis in their lives, and still lead a 'normal' life.
    The criminalization of cannabis is mainly down to our 'Nanny' state wanting to put further controls on peoples lives- making us all productive consumers for our governments agendas (isnt that another form of addiction to something-consumerism?).
    Cannabis has been constantly dragged through our society as 'The Demon Weed'- WHY?
    Some people have addictive personalities- if everything was banned then they would maybe try to get hooked up on Toilet Duck if you could get a buzz off it!
    Look at prohibition in the USA in the 1930's- that worked a treat didnt it so whats the difference here! Illigal Gangs will always take advantage of a system that tries to dictate what the people cant have- even the term 'Illigal Gangs' is a joke as we have ligitamate gangs (governments) endorsing alcohol/tobbaco/prescribed drugs as ok because its taxed....its all a joke!
    Leave sensible people alone to make their own choices in life......yes i have smoked cannabis in the past, but now i take it or leave it- same as a drink of alcohol!

  • Comment number 36.

    Legalise,regulate,& taxation is the best option for this very versatile medicine. I have used this drug in the past for pain relief, and i found it much better than prescribed medications. Prescribed pain relief has many unpleasant side effects, and can cause long term health problems in later life. Iknow what i would rather use but cannot under the current laws.

  • Comment number 37.

    Oh Dear! Why do we always miss the point? Its the misuse of this drug that is the problem the poor souls who have no grip on happiness,value self esteem?
    Looking at it logically if Booze is legal then Cannabis should also be legal. Both are addictive.. if misused
    Making it illegal makes it uncontrollable and does more harm than good, this programme makes that clear
    The desire for Cannabis and Alcohol will never go way accept it, get over it and get on with it, with practical solutions
    What we have seen pushing this underground and in the wrong hands is quite insane and clearly NOT WORKING
    Spend the money and time on getting people off any drug mind set especially the young who seem to be bored and disillusioned with life The misuse of drugs is a social problem and society must bear the blame
    I thought the documantry was good

  • Comment number 38.

    I was disapointed with this programme because it was not a true representation of the world of cannabis smokers. I am 57 and have smoked cannabis since I was 15, often on a daily basis. I and my contemporaries who have also smoked for over 40 years have led happy and successful lives, gone to University, had successful relationships etc etc. Some of my friends are leaders in their field, which include (amongst others) careers in TV and radio, medical physics and the music industry. The majority of us rarely drink alcohol as people seem to prefer one or the other. Neither do we mix with people selling Class A drugs (there is actually a bit of snobbery amongst dope dealers of my generation, refusing to associate with the addictive, destructive drugs).

    Because I recently moved house, I spent many months without any cannabis, being unable to locate it. I did not become depressed, suicidal or suffer any kind of withdrawal symptoms. Out of boredom however, I did go to the pub and have a few glasses of wine, and that really did make me feel ill !!! Alcohol causes far more damage to society than dope ever did.

    I now am able to obtain cannabis whenever I want to, but often don't, simply because I don't believe that doing something every day for all your life is not the most sensible thing to do, be it. And as an older woman, I like to detox now and again to stay healthy. So I can control when I want to get stoned.

    I think that a very important point was omitted in the programme. The farmers are now producing HYBRID cannabis plants, cultured to contain much higher levels of THC than was ever found in naturally occuring plants. As a person well accustomed to grass, even I find this hybrid 'skunk' has a tendency to be almost hallucigenic.

    And of course, any fool knows that if you make something illegal, it will be handled by unscrupulous criminals. Have the government forgotten about the prohibition days in the US ? If it was made legal, all this nasty criminality would go out of the window, the govt could control the quality of the drug and even raise a tax on it, as they do with other drugs such as tobacco and alcohol, and decent, intelligent people would be able to go to the shop and buy it whenever they wish to. BUT WHY AM I HERE SAYING THIS, WHICH IS SO OBVIOUS !!! After all these years, and with millions of good people, who prefer to have a spliff instead of drinking alcohol, will the govt please give us DEMOCRACY and accept that we have the right to smoke it if we wish.

  • Comment number 39.

    Another note i havent mentioned- i have a conviction for possession of cannabis from near on 30 years ago, this still effects my life mainly for jobs as it is 'still' sat on my Criminal Records (CRB) all for literally a spliff worth of resin!
    Oh and as for CRB checks- does anyone know that say for example i rang the police to say i thought my neighbour was drug dealing- that WILL be put on my neighbours CRB even if there is no other evidence or conviction- i know this as a fact first hand!
    The amount of people i know who use recreational drugs far outweigh those that abstain- yet they lead full lives in VERY professional occupations, just because they dont get caught!

  • Comment number 40.

    Another note i haven't mentioned- i have a conviction for possession of cannabis from near on 30 years ago, this still effects my life mainly for jobs as it is 'still' sat on my Criminal Records (CRB) all for literally a spliff worth of resin!
    Oh and as for CRB checks- does anyone know that say for example i rang the police to say i thought my neighbour was drug dealing- that WILL be put on my neighbours CRB even if there is no other evidence or conviction- i know this as a fact first hand!
    The amount of people i know who use recreational drugs far outweigh those that abstain- yet they lead full lives in VERY professional occupations, just because they don't get caught!

  • Comment number 41.

    Enjoyed the programme, one thing I must say, at the end of prog. 2 James remarked that thinking of the captive farmer etc. made him think of cannabis in a different light, sureley he meant the cannabis 'law', should be seen in a different light.
    I have just recently been to court for a cannabis offence, because just like the young guy in the 1st prog. I grew 4 plants in my bedroom for my own personal use as I too felt I couldn't keep smoking cannabis at the expense of people like the vietnamese farmers so organised criminals can get rich.
    I thought I was doing the responsible thing, I've been smoking cannabis for 36 yrs now and I've been to jail because of it but I don't consider myself a criminal though I've been criminalised all my life because of it.
    On the last case my solicitor advised me I would recieve a fine in a magistrates court for such a paltry offence but instead of that happening, although there was absolutely no suggestion that I'd sold anything, it was decided that because they found an amount of money on me which I proved was my pension a 'proceeds of crime application' was made which sent the case to crown court, which costs thousands of taxpayers money, I couldn't understand this until I found out that if they could get the judge to confiscate the money they split it 50-50 between the police and the c.p.s. The money we are talking about 800 quid! But they are prepared to put on a song and dance, of 2 crown court appearances at the end of it all! Thats got to cost ten grand! Then because it's in crown court, probation has to get involved, and I eventually end up on a tag to keep me in between the hours of 7am to 7pm, (but I hardly ever go out at night so no big deal) which is at least another grand or more; a years probation visits nearly 7 weeks wages just for someone to say 'hello everything o.k.'
    I really thought I was being socially responsible but now I'm being forced to buy it again and put people I've never met in danger, I can't just give it up cos life is softer with a spliff.
    THE LAW must be changed, but let's face it, if they're not going to listen to their own advisor, there must be some advantage to them in not legalizing it, and all I can think of is that crime itself is such a big employer (Judges, lawyers, police, prison guards etc,etc) and most crime is generated to provide drugs in general that they'd be on a loser to do something as obvious as that!

  • Comment number 42.

    I want to tell Rudlescounty that YES I absolutely agree with you. This is a man trying to atone for getting caught smoking a joint. And YES it is politically correct BS.

    Mr Alexandrou clearly has no backbone.

  • Comment number 43.

    Hi there James, I have watched both series of the programme. I smoked cannabis since the age of 12 but stopped nearly 3 years ago now,Im 32 years old now. I used to think it was addictive when i smoked it but just decieded out of the blue to quit,I smoked about £30-£40 of cannabis every day. I dont think that cannabis its self is addictive.But people that have addictive personalitys do get addictided to and are addictided to cannabis. Whilst whatching the seconed episode I saw the interview with Jason Williams, Anthoney Spencers son. My partner was part of the (International career criminals) As they were called in the local paper. My partner was sentanced along with anthoney spancer. He was promoting the comic you Showed a clip of and spoke about in amsterdam, His and Hers smuggling vacation. Distributing the comic to all the local cafe's in Holland. He is also due to be released this year, Along with 11 others that were sentanced along with Anthoney Spencer.For the conspiracy to import Amphetamine and cannabis Class A and B drugs,Not just cannabis. There is a second comic that has been published,Im sure Jason would have given you a copy whilst filming the interview or after. But back to cannabis its self I do think they should make it a legal substance,As in your first episode you interviewed a young man with MS and like he said its the only thing that helps with the pain, also the ammount of people in america that have medical card s for illness's that they say cannabis help s with. why is it the the drug is illegal if it cure's so many illness's.

    I would really appreciate your view on my blog James

    look forward to hearing from you ;0)

  • Comment number 44.

    I agree with Alison. I am a Psychotherapist who, over the past 14 years, has seen the rise of cannabis users who have problems caused by their usage, ranging from addiction, dependency, anxiety, panic attacks, paranoia, insomnia to triggering bipolar and varying forms of psychosis.

    I thought the programme only skimmed the top of the subject and never examined cannabis usage via medical or psychiatric avenues in detail. It was a wasted opportunity as the viewer was denied a true 360 degree insight into the reality of this drug.

    I have also seen an increase in cocaine users who have problems with the drug and its usage.....but that's another post!

  • Comment number 45.

    ...As a kid i was abused for many years by a man whom i was very afraid of,I think this changed the potential in myself & MY whole outlook On life etc etc...

    I have alot of issues going on in my head, becasuse of the dark doors the abuse opened in my mind so young in life, it has made me ill, mentally depressed, suicidal, the abuse has caused a painful thing in me called fybromyalgia, its very painful all my muscles contract & tense causing pain & stiffness in all my limbs and back.

    To cut a long story short cannibis saved my life, I Honestly Think I Would Have Commited Suicide with-out it!!! cause it helped me take my mind away from this, helped me think not as depressive and it also helped my muscles relax and reduce pain,

    The only time i feel a negative response from cannibis is when i've took to much or more importantly when i'ved smoked contaminated cannibis i.e. mixed by the criminals in the black market so their product goes futher, it is these harsh aggressive chemicals in illegal cannibis that is doing the most harm to anyone who is unfortunate enough to have smoked this dodgy dope, giving all canibis a bad name.

    ...It works for me as a medicine this much I am 100% sure off, but there are always going to be people alergic to things I mean some can't eat nuts!!! Think about it!!!

    cheers, I hope this can connect with someone at least!

    ps. The dealers spray their blocks of hash and bags of weed with all sorts, likes of WD-40 oil or toilet bleach this what kids should be told what to look out for cause these chemicals are much more harmful! & damaging than the cannibis itself!

  • Comment number 46.

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

  • Comment number 47.

    hey, i used to smoke weed every day for about 4 and a half years... people say that you carnt get addicted! you can, mentaly,, not physiclly!
    too be honest i dont really think that its that bad of a drug, if you get the chance go on youtube and type in "the streets-the irony of it all" that song is great it eaxplains that green shud be leagaleized! it compare drink to weed. i was addicted to it and i wud put the drug 1st before anything else! and i lost evrything! i lost a loving girlfriend that would do absolutly anything for me! i ost my family... got kicked out the house what not, not for smoking it, because of the crimes i was commiting to get the drug! /: the only thing that got me off the drug was another drugg called MKATT! i got hooked on that for about 6 months taking it every day! now that is what you call a bad drug,,
    in all fairness i think that the way to stop cannabis funding other crimes like people smuggaling and people smuggling weapons into the country is do what amperstadamn is doing, at leat the goverment will be able to claim tax on it, and also controll the mopunt people have and use, least we will know where the money to buy the green is going... and not doing any harm what so ever. well i aint got much to say no more soo inabit x

  • Comment number 48.

    I just want to mention the harm caused by cannibis being outlawed in Britain.

    I grew some plants in my attic last year. I grew them because my wife used it because she believed that it helped with her seizures. Cannibis is a very expensive habit or at least can be. Police estimates are always grossly exaggerated though as the street value around here is £20 an eighth.

    I have always been considered as a law abiding person but now my life has been turned upside down. I wwas growing around 100 plants as I only wanted to do it just the once and estimated this to be around a years supply for the both of us. I got caught because it is obviously illegal annd am waitng to return to magistrates court where they will transfer myy case to the crown court as they don't feel that the penalty that they can deliver might be harsh enough.

    I am NOT the sort of person who can even contemplate the chance of going to prison and the thought og possibly getting 30 months in prison is just not something that I can face. To make matters worse my wife left before I was caught aand I sent her some in the post to help try to win her back and so the police are charging me also with supply. This could carry a sentence of up to 14 yeasr imprisonment. The only option that I can see ahead of me is to end it all so I don't end up in jail.I have 3 beautifu; daughters who I will end up leaving behind and pray for them all the time.

    Was it worth it? No wife and the end to my life? Of course not.

  • Comment number 49.

    ohh by the way i stopped MKATT beacuse it is far more worse drugg than anything! and i also cant belive that cannabis is in the same class as it! i know chong abit of weed evry now n then.

  • Comment number 50.

    Legalization would stop all the huge profiteering from these big gangs and stop people being imported to run illegal farms. The government could tax it in the same way as cigarettes and make lots of money instead of spending lots of money on the policing. The police could then concentrate on the more important issues of hard drugs.
    I have been smoking cannabis for over 20 years and have never experienced mental issues or any physical problems associated with it. I do not smoke tobacco or have any desire for any other drugs. If it were legal, people who do have problems from using it could be helped easier because they wouldn't be as afraid to come forward with their problem.
    Alcohol is by far the worse drug available in this country and causes far more harm to people than cannabis will ever do yet we tolerate it freely. Alcohol fuels violence, but if you had a group of people rioting and blew lots of cannabis smoke at they they would soon stop and wonder what the hell they were fighting about!

  • Comment number 51.

    I think this documentary was biased, it focused on the criminal side of marijuana use that would not happen if it was legal. People being forced to work in cannabis factories by organised criminal gangs,smuggling thru customs etc.. it wouldnt happen if it was legal. Every time someone decides to exploit the situation for their own gain by producing a cannabis documetary goes to see the one off case that thinks marijuana made them mental and the pablo escobar wannabe smuggling from the carribean or south america or the chinese/thai illegal worker in a uk cannabis factory. In 2 hours I saw about 5 mins of the '2 million uk users'. Things will never change with this propaganda on the tv for millions to be brainwashed even more. David Nutt proved the situation will stay the same in the uk for a long time.

  • Comment number 52.

    I have just watched the BBC programme. As usual the real point missed in the summery of the programme was cannibis being illegal was the real problem. Users as young as ten, black ex-dealer now born again christian talks about status he had as dealer. Well, legalize it then there is no status, no danger factor, no street cred, take away the gangsta image and the 10 to 15 year olds will not be interested. People die, why ? because the gang's are in control, not because of smoking it. The coffee shop idea provides a safe venue, where people know what they are smoking and the money goes to the government rather then orginized criminal gangs. The money payed in taxes would benefit the country and create a big hole in the gangs finances. This would release the police to concentrate on the real drugs which actually kill.
    legalize or like Holland decriminalize, take control and use the millions of pounds lost every day to the gangs and use it to help the hospitals, schools etc. While it is illeqal people will get hurt.

  • Comment number 53.

    The fact that cannabis is so readily available should be evidence enough that criminalization does not work. Legalise it on the Dutch model, take it out of the hands of organised criminals and let's smoke our way out of this recession!

  • Comment number 54.

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

  • Comment number 55.

    These comments speak for themselves, but heres an idea I really like:

    We want a "Question time" follow-up program - on BBC1!

    ...with Scientists, polititions, media & public involved.
    using logic, scientific method, history and human rights...

    I really enjoyed the first program, slightly annoyed the second program made out that I should have a guilt complex about serious organised crime because I'm sitting here having a smoke and thus funding it - the guilt should be placed on the shoulders of those who perpetuate the prohibition of cannabis.

    JAMES, please keep this quote of yours (from this blog) in your mind, after remarking about the open nature of cannabis in California you say: "Here (UK) it's very underground and I think in that respect harmful."

    Legalisation is gradually creeping accross the EU and also America, it will happen here one day...

  • Comment number 56.

    hi im Toneee
    ive watched the programme last week aswell and found it pretty interesting. im 40 this year and been smoking since i was 9 yrs old im not proud of that fact and wished id never started and it was all because of the way i was brought up and the parents i had as they smoked it all the time themselfs so it was everyday life so it became natural to me back then in the 80's it was very different back then as the canibis was a lot cleaner and the greedy dealers of today all they are worried about is getting the weight and making the money ive seen herbal cannibis sprayed with glass and sugar it really doesnt matter what they use aslong as they make the money ive been smoking it that long now that it is part of my life i now suffer with insomnia and depression anxiety and its not nice watching ur show james and the research that yo have done as really opened my eyes and i wont to help people and myself it was a very very interesting programme thank you if it was decrimanised in this country i think it would stop alot of the criminal activity that goes with it california have the right idea with the medical card and the chemists why cant we do that over ere or amsterdam where you can smoke it in cafe it would make it so much safer than it is as there would be no unwanted chemicals in it and people would be so much safer

  • Comment number 57.

    Looks like a change in the law is popular, not because of wanting to be left alone in peace to smoke, but for the bigger picture, while it is illegal it harms people far more. Come on James what do you think ?

  • Comment number 58.

    i think the government should build polytunnels about 40 acers across loads of them somewhere in the British countryside. And then sell weed legal to over 21 year old people who chose to smoke it.But if them 21 year olds start selling it to youngsters jail them for about 15 years.Put tax on it to help this country out.But also sell it at about 15 pound an 8th.With a small amount of tax on it.Because i think beer is just as harmful as weed if you smoke or drink it at a young age.And you would probably have to guard it with the army as well.In this you will under cut the criminals,

  • Comment number 59.

    i would agree, the uk user was hardly represented, i`v smoked weed 4 the last 25 years and seen many changes in what we get and how the price has gone up to now being £10 a gram on the street! the last programe focused on the gangs making all the money and high lighting that its a class b. i remember during the early 90`s it went a class c, about this time the smoked you got changed to what was called soap or flat press, when on purchasing my flat press i asked after smoking it why it was so weak, my seller turned me said it had been nicknamed passport, partly due to its thickness and the other due it being allowed into this country as long as the THC didn`t go over certain amount!. this was all the smoke available untill mid to late 90`s when skunk appeard which can grow yourself or at least the gangs could grow in this country and make maximum profits. If the gov` are scared of loosing votes if they try and leaglise, then they wiil make there money out cannabis in other ways, though at the moment they are most certainly loosing there "invisible tax". CLASS B says it all.

  • Comment number 60.

    Well, I was hoping to get informed about cannabis and what it possibly does to the brain . Instead it was a pretty superficial story the second part. The second part should have been named, 'illegality, what is the harm.'
    Plenty of programs have there been about medical marihuana, cops busting growhomes, addiction, etc. Compared to those I found this program shallow. And everything is addictive, chocolat ,coffee, food. Oh and let us not forget, TV. :-o

  • Comment number 61.

    the program was wicked and im glad more people are being able to make there own mind up i would love to see weed legalized if only so people can grow there own and not worry about it being used for organised crime i think the police do a brilliant job and its not there fault that weed was put to class b i also think more need to be done about alcohol consumption in the uk

  • Comment number 62.

    An interesting piece of work, You started by showing famous people who have used cannabis, George Michael, Prince Harry, Barrak O'Bama. Why not include David Cameron? it's well documented that he used cannabis while at Eton.
    It's obvious to most people that all the problems you highlighted are a direct result of prohibition. I believe that the people in government are well aware of the fact but to come out with it directly whilst in power would be political suicide due to the sucessful demonising propaganda of the last 40 years.

    David Cameron, the Tory leadership contender, believes the UN should consider legalising drugs and wants hard-core addicts to be provided with legal "shooting galleries" and state-prescribed heroin.
    He also supported calls for ecstasy to be downgraded from the class-A status it shares with cocaine and heroin and said it would be "disappointing" if radical options on the law on cannabis were not looked at.
    "Politicians attempt to appeal to the lowest common denominator by posturing with tough policies and calling for crackdown after crackdown. Drugs policy has been failing for decades."

    (source: The independent Wednesday, 7 September 2005)

    The Liberal Democrats for Drugs Policy Reform (LDDPR) were also calling for the leagalisation of ALL drugs before the last election.
    Since the election very little has been said by the Government on the drugs issue other than anouncing plans to change the law and remove the legal requirement for scientists to sit on the advisory panel for the misuse of drugs act. They are well aware that the only European countrys to have significantly reduced drug use are The Netherlands and Portugal, and both have achived this by relaxing drugs laws. Bob Ainsworth the labour drugs minister for two years is now calling for the decriminalisation of all drugs. The EU has stated that it would not block any member state's attempts to legalise drugs.
    We already have a company licenced by the government to grow cannabis in the UK (G.W.Pharmacuticals) and I'm pretty sure the Tory's wouldn't let a lucrative business opportunity go to waste. But how do you get around the political suicide issue? Easy you pump out a few programs showing the gross stupidity of the current policies and then say "we are just listening to public oppinion". Lets face it when the cuts start to bite and the police start loosing their jobs what are policing prioritys going to be? Propaganda works best when you don't see it as such.

  • Comment number 63.

    SO the final programme aptly demonstrated the problems of prohibition then blamed it on Cannabis. It missed the point totally the reason we have criminal gangs associated with Cannabis is because of the huge amounts that can be made because it is illegal. We have not learnt anything from history just look at US Alcohol prohibtion that caused the rise of Al Capone and gangsters.

    It is obscene that it is blaming cannabis users for the rise of criminal gangs. Its because it is illegal that we have the crime. I can't believe that the BBC is so short sighted and honestly stupid on this issue.

    Just let adults use and grow their own cannabis, problem solved. Lets spend the money that we waste on prohibition, some commentators ie Transform estimate this at £13 billion each and every year on stopping kids using and providing help to the small numbers who have problems with it. The risk of problems as estimated by the ACMD is 1 in 5000 and thats in the highest risk group thats .002%. If you are over 25 the risks are minimal certainly far less than that associated with alcohol and tobacco.In fact bathrooms cause more damage to the population over 25 than cannabis does. More people die by slipping in there bathrooms are we going to ban bathrooms.

  • Comment number 64.

    Good show James,
    I too would like to see a Question-Time type debate and well I think we all understand that prohibition is the real problem here, and the government's unswayable stance on it's legality or lack of is a tricky predicament to rectify, I mean how would the government make it right, how do you admit failure (Prohibition) without discrediting your reputation and looking a fool.
    One proposal is from the Legalise Cannabis Alliance who plan to register as a single issue political party with the sole aim of legalising/deregulating cannabis, This would in theory allow the people to make the choice and take the blame and need for backtracking away from any other single or coalition parties.
    A PROP19UK if you like, the law would be changed and no embarresment suffered by the party/parties who takes over after the law is ammended, I for one would vote for this.
    Here's a thought if everyone who was caught with cannabis were asked to sign a legalise petition before being cautioned or fined or arrested, then the 10,000 names needed to get it debated in parliament would be fullfilled every month for a year. And thats just for the small percentage actually caught.
    In these lean times how can we justify an estimated spend of 15-19 billion tax payer pounds on cannabis prevention and oiling the prohibition machine, we don't get a fraction of that back in fines, property seisures or slowing supply down, and the arrest figures given the expense are ridiculous, spend it on hospitals/schools not turning the police into gardeners spending their days clearing a house of it's prohibition-based price-fixed crop, cannabis is cheap to produce but prohibiting it makes it valuable thereby exploitable, bit of a self fullfilling fantasy when you think about it.

  • Comment number 65.

    To Alison and Angela:
    I acknowledge there are links to mental health disorders.

    Do you think the current legal status of cannabis helps or hinders the issue?

  • Comment number 66.

    The days of prohibition were quite mild in comparison to today's global terrorism. Would have thought the government would want to close as many doors as possible on this avenue of the funding of it
    This is a good place to start.Organised crime is a security issue these days

  • Comment number 67.

    A policy that serves to fund terrorist organizations while depriving cancer sufferers the opportunity to use a substance, which has been proven to work as an effective treatment for the nausea brought about by chemotherapy, which is an excellent pain relief and which increases the appetite of cancer sufferers - thereby aiding a return to full health - is evil.

  • Comment number 68.

    If cannabis was legal and taxed then the £1 billion + of tax raised from the sale could easily cover the cost of caring for all the mental health issues supposedly caused by cannabis of the entire UK . (I say supposedly caused by cannabis because there is still no solid proof that cannabis causes mental illness in adults anyway). Keeping it illegal is denying the people who have mental illness the treatment they deserve. The treatment they could receive could come from cannabis in the form of a very high CBD strain which has anti psychotic effects. All the people arguing the case that cannabis should be illegal because of the mental health issue weather your a doctor or psychiatrist who has said that they see the mental health effects of cannabis should look at the bigger picture. Keeping it illegal has not stopped it's use in hundreds of years and it will never stop it because IT'S A PLANT given to us by nature. I walk past many homeless drunks everyday on the streets of London who are clearly in a terrible mental state I don't see any of these doctors and psychiatrist calling for a ban on alcohol. It is a fact that alcohol kills brain cells there are no such facts about cannabis and mental health in adults. The government of this country and the world need to wake up and realize that the criminalization is the real harm being done here giving gangs and drug lords the power and money they love. If you can get through life with out doing any drugs weather it be alcohol, cannabis or paracetamol then that would be the best for everyone but forcing people to become criminals because they choose to take drugs is not the answer to any of societies problems. I would like to recommend again a new documentary that is on the web now by a man called Len Richmond it's called 'If Cannabis Cured Cancer' please google and watch it to get some true facts about this amazing PLANT. Thanks for reading

  • Comment number 69.

    The programme was interesting but James and the police misrepresent what is truly to blame for the victims (like the Vietnamese gardeners); it is not the cannabis, it is not the demand for cannabis, it is the government's policy towards it that means it is associated with violent organised crime. Legalisation is the only way forward; it will not mean all drug problems go away, of course not, but what it will be is regulation, taxation (and a lovely revenue for HMRC) and increased safety for everyone. It is the least bad option (as has been backed by The Economist for 20+ years). The programme tried to make users feel guilty for bring part of an exploitative crime network, this was wrong. Guns, violence, murders etc were all tied up in the illegal networks during alcohol prohibition in the USA in the days of Al Capone. Make it legal, that goes away. Simples.

  • Comment number 70.

    Well put Alistair now we need to ask why doesn't the government legalize and regulate cannabis? One reason is the potential medical benefits that it has. These benefits are potentially miraculous and could mean that the pharmaceutical companies taking a massive fall in profits (it is in the pharmaceutical industries interest to have sick people!) . How many billions would these companies pay to keep a free to grow miracle cure from being legal? Please Please watch Len Richmond's film it does an excellent job of explaining all of this!

  • Comment number 71.

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

  • Comment number 72.

    Yet more propaganda from the BBC. Some interesting points were made, but ultimately the filmmaker missed the elephant in the room - namely that prohibition is the real problem here. You did the groundwork, but ultimately failed to connect the dots. Shame.

  • Comment number 73.

    does anyone think the bbc will comment on the overwhelming point made throughout this blog - prohibition does not work - and as such, how can it (the bbc) have failed to address this point in its programme? the bbc does not just make programmes to explore and educate, but to serve as a platform for views held by the public. too right 'manwithbrain', there was a huge elephant in my tv screen. dear aunty beeb, i do believe you have been talking through your trunk. is there anything you wish to say?

  • Comment number 74.

    Dude, you admit to having blazed up in the past and enjoyed it. When you were filming and sat with all those people toking up weren't you tempted to have a cheeky few tokes yourself?

  • Comment number 75.

    Quite typical output from the BBC.
    Limited facts, no real information.
    It doesn't take a scientist to tell us cannabis is comparatively harmless, the human race has had 5000 years to figure this out already.
    But we should all know it's really really addictive, because a fifteen year old says so....
    How come no-one invited me to take part? you have my e-mail address BBC, you could have asked me to appear in this documentary. After smoking cannabis for 20 years I think I'm probably just a little more qualified to hold an opinion than some kid.

  • Comment number 76.

    I approached this "documentary" hoping to finally see the harmlessness of cannabis brought to the eyes and ears of the uninformed and supported by a great institution such as the BBC.

    What I found was instead gravely misinforming and made me lose my respect towards said institution.

    As long as this kind of nonsense is aired on national television for the ignorant to believe as the truth cannabis will remain illegal.

  • Comment number 77.

    I've always turned to the BBC for updates on current affairs and such,
    I believe the Beeb can be relied upon for the best part of things as far as truth and unbiased journalism goes, it just seems to me now that all media outlets comply with 'Big Brother' when it comes to this grey area of cannabis and the real truth, maybe these programmes about cannabis are doomed before they begin, for fear of government funds being cut!!

    ...However I think James was trying to come at this from a slighty different approach, almost like stealth, if you like, so as to create a wider debate on the whole issue.

    As I've already said on an earlier post I totally know cannabis is a valuable medication for me and many others I've tried everything the Doctors can throw at me and nothing even comes near to the effectiveness
    of cannabis.

    This World can't be right! when it denies anyone a medication that can help improve their quality of life!

    Why isn't there a programme called 'Why On Earth Is Cannabis Illegal'
    then we might get to the problem.

    Plus us, the bricks in the wall, the ants! we are made criminals for what? we are brainwashed into thinking we're criminals, maybe this is what drives some people to the edge of their mind! The Gov Mindset!

    I feel like they're trying to make outsiders out of us people that use!!
    Why is this? Is this so that it drives john doe insane, feeling he's a criminal and therefore they the government can turn round and say look at John Doe he's insane this is what cannabis does!!

    David Cammeron should show we British can make decisions on are own with out the Fed Government of The U.S.A. setting the rules out for the world
    to abide by!!!

    what a weak nation we've become! We should leed the way save money from turning cannabis into a war, and instead gain from this plants positive uses, there's a whole industry that would turn over billions per year in our nation and it's being left for thugs to govern!


  • Comment number 78.

    I have found nowhere else to express my annoyance at the BBC's apathy over the arrest of the Vietnamese sitter in episode 2. He was sent to the country to try and provide for his family at a last resort, and the government send him down for 18 months just for trying to earn his poor family a bit of cash. Ridiculous.

    The law is the law but this is no way to help people that have no other option. Why not deport the man immediately, instead of jailing him before you even tell him in his native language that he has done something illegal in this country when he probably didn't know it was!

    This is disguised racism and prejudice by the police force, who are jailing all the monkeys and ignoring the organ grinders. Typical!

  • Comment number 79.

    Again another documentary about cannabis that does not exceed my epectations.

    Yes it's upsetting to see this going on the street corners, there are alot of dangers, especially when you don't know who your supplier is. They could just be someone ripping you off, maybe worst. I know a few lads who through this back alley trade have had knives put to them, fortunately I don't know anyone who has died in this situation.

    It doesn't matter what age you are to them. They see money, you get drugs. Simple as that.

    Like William writes, those who use it for medicine or recreational use like Alcohol, cigarettes. We're seen as criminals.

    Why not reconsider it? Why not legalise? Why not at least, bring it in medicinally, so that people who really need know what they're getting and getting strains that are grown specifically for their needs.

    Marijuana is simply hemp, which is one of the easiest, strongest, manufacturing products, which can be used for fuels, food, clothing, paper and much more. Hell back in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth the oil was used in medicines to begin with.

    Seriously the amount of good, hardworking people who pay tax and to see it spent, no squnadered to criminalize a plant to such proportions, it's shocking. Our hard earned money is spent arresting those sat in a park, not harming anyone, having a spliff, then either you get a warning or you get it put on your record, worst you're arrested. For what, sitting and daydreaming, loving the world for it's vibrant colours... Really, I saw too drunks, kicking ten shades of colour out of each other, police pulled them apart and let them off with a warning. Guess who came back for more...

    So what are we criminalizing, and should we be.

    Deaths, everyone says (Well not everyone, cause there's a few of you who might agree), marijuana will kill you. If so, through any of these british documentaries, why to christ aren't you showing this... Wait a sec, because there isn't any. There are no proven deaths contributed by marijuana alone. With Tabacco, yes.

    Dr. Paul Hornby, PhD, Biochemist & Human Pathologist

    "I've heard that you have to smoke something like 15,000 joints in 20 minutes to get a toxic amount of Tetrahydrocannabinol. I challenge anybody to do that."

    One of my favourite quotes.

    So please please... Either do a better documentary, if not, don't bother. Cause you're making matters worst are you describe a drug, yes whilst in the hands of criminals it dangerous. But think about what we can do if we market it like before, Alcohol and Cigarettes. Two LEGAL drugs, in comparison to weed. I'd really reconsider. Aren't these two of our biggest killers in britain if you don't include, poor diet and bad health. Yet we're more interested in the downside effects of marijuana use.

    How many of you who might read this, who has had drink underage or had their first cigarette at twelve. Kids can still obtain it, there's no doubt about that. Whether legal or not, but what would you rather have them get their hands on, cause trust me, if you say,'We'd rather have them, have none'. Then you're going to waiting a long time before that happens. So yeah, would you rather have them, go to the streets and get it off some guy who MIGHT have worst on him and them being influenced, may consider to use harder drugs. Or knowing that what they are using has been grown properly, isn't contminated will what could be anything. I know which I'd prefer.

    So to finish off, so that no one thinks I'm some pothead protesting the rights and legalistion of marijuana, cause I am.

    But I grew up in a family were drugs are bad. I thought marijuana was bad up till the age of 20. 2 years in uni education I was around a lot, but my choice was alcohol, nothing else.

    I suffered from anxiety and sleep deprivation on a few different prescribed meds. I came off them when a friend had told me about how marijuana is used to help within those kinda problems. I was 22 by this point, but I was drinking a bottle of vodka sometimes more a night just to help me sleep. So I thought what the hell.

    2 years later, Now 24 I don't drink as much. Every now and then, I do have to be socialable sometimes, but I'm happier with life, I don't feel a constant dark shadow is lurking over me. My worklife is betterm, I'm more socialable, when not smoking at the time. But all round a better person for it.

    Again I know people don't see the same positivity, but I say the same with Alcohol now, maybe it just isn't for you.

    Anyways I'll end my rant there.

  • Comment number 80.

    First, leaving fingerprints on a hid bulb can cause catastrophic failure-use a sock.For how much longer will politicians happily enable the supply and consumption of a substance responsible for one death every hour,and in that same hour cause ten facial reconstructive surgeries?I have forty years of cannabis use and I am certain pot does not cause any long-term mental health problems, it can disclose pre-existing undiagnosed conditions, it can be_and is used to treat minor mental health problems by millions without bothering the NHS. If it were possible to stop all the smoke in the UK valium,prozac and seroxat scripts would cripple the NHS.
    How disappointing is it that the nation who brought us the WAR on DRUGS is now well advanced than the UK in enlightened thinking on the subject? We now lag well behind on this issue, shame on politicians of all complexions.
    Wales should follow Portugal and declare all drug use legal. Having lived and worked in Holland and speaking Dutch, I can guarantee millions of pot tourists would prefer a destination less flat and with immeasurably better beaches. The valleys etc. could be ideal places for a poly-tunnel or outdoor crop that requires no expensive lighting. During my years in Holland I never even heard angry voices and definitely no violence in coffie shops, that would transform our streets massively for the better. Mick Jagger suggested the IOM conduct this trial, I think Wales has a more urgent problem.

  • Comment number 81.

    I'm not a tree-hugger or anything like that, but one thing that has always been on the back of my mind when it comes to governments around
    the world saying they ban cannabis for the well being of there populations,

    That same well being for their citizens didn't stop al these 'Do What We Say Govs' from testing nuclear weapons 20-30 years ago! we all live in a world now that has more background radiation than normal, I would think this to be much more of a concern than joe bloggs having a spliff!!!

    It's all lies and control, medicene is to big an industry for people to
    have cheap or free remedies.

    Also one way how criminals introduce young people to harder drugs is by mixing harder drugs into the cannabis they sell without the knowledge of the buyer, I know people this has happened to seriously thats no joke! It's usually people that come from a family that would have a bit of money too, like a targeted approach by dealers, these people are'nt stupid money is their god. 'Speculate to Accumulate' on the dirty low down criminals behalf, It's happening right now everywhere! not in all cases but this does happen!

    I urge the BBC to do a more in depth study programme on cannabis and get to the real issuses of black market cannabis.

  • Comment number 82.

    I feel that this programme did not achieve what it was intended. What is the Harm of Cannabis? It would seem that it affects only those who heavily use it. So does Alcohol and Tobacco - Does it Not? So why is Weed so much more worse? Because its illegal.
    Every other problem used as a case against Pot; Whether it be Possession or Growing, or its support to Organised Crime linking to People Smuggling, Exploitation and even Torture. Is all, because it is illegal. None of this would happen if Cannabis was legal. By forcing it underground, is what forces people to resolve to other measures.
    Alcohol is legal but is responsible for Violence, Public Disorder, Vandalism and so on. What if Alcohol was Illegal, and Cannabis was not? How many violent crimes are committed by someone whom is high? We could see our streets safer, cleaner.
    But apparently, Cannabis is the harm. If it was legal, the organsised Crime would not exist, and there would be a huge increase to the economy of the UK due to this almost global niché market.
    It is not the herb that is the problem, it is its legal state. Legalise Weed.

    "Excuse me while I light my spliff, Oh GOD I gotta take a lift" ~ Marley

  • Comment number 83.

    Little bit of a sell-out, James & Co.
    Your programmes do not prove cannabis damages life, health or society, but make it clear the Law on Cannabis causes untold damage.
    While it always gives me pleasure to see the plant or happy honest users,watching your programmes made me very sad indeed. It seems our society has gone totally insane. This truly is a war and it hurts me deeply to consider how much unnecessary suffering is being dished out to decent people by what seems an army of brutal thugs.
    What message are our "leaders" sending out to the youth? Maybe you should ask the youth?
    God help us all.

  • Comment number 84.

    Hello peeps

    A little story of my life so far

    Going though school I was bullied and when I left school I became a Chef witch is a very stress full job (but rewarding) I found most of us would have a few drinks after work to unwind. I started drinking most days then some time later (Think I was about 19teen at the time) I started having the odd joint now and again. And I wanted to try all the drugs I have taken e's Kettermin,barbs,sleeping pills,LSD,shrooms. All this came to an end when some of the people I was meeting and hanging around with where deep into crime (armed robbery.. kidnap and so on) So I got my self away by working abroad. I found it very easy to give up all the party drugs but the alcohol contiued and smoking of canabis. Anyway by the time I hit 32 I was drinking about 150 units booze a week about an eight of weed and was realy depressed (suicidel). Then came the hardes thing I have tryed to do and that was control my drinking and for six years I tryed and could not control it. So I stoped about a year ago and was told I would have to have a nurse to come and check on me every day for a week beacause coming down off booze can kill you unlike any other drug out there. Anyway I'm now very happy I gave up the drinking. The depression I had is under control and I'm still smoking the weed

    But though all this I have to say I have an adictive personality. I dont blame the drink Its just me I'm that way with most things I enjoy I have to examine what I'm doing with all things that make me happy.

    With regard to the withdraw from weed yes you do get crabby find it hard to sleep but you do with the booze. I just wish you had pointed out that booze also can cause metal heath problems.

    I have done a little test on myself when It comes to canabis I used to smoke resin and found that coming off the resin is a bit hard to do. So I have been smoking the natral form (grass) for the passed 3 mouths now and for the passed week I have not smoked any. And I feel fine I can sleep , I'm happy so god knows that they put in the resin to bulk it out?

    Also then I was getting help to stop drinking the councelor stated a FACT If booze was a new thing and was to be clasifed it would be a class A drug. Far more dangouse to the body and mind than all the drugs out there

    Anyway as with all things modarashion is the key and it should be legal

  • Comment number 85.

    When will people in the UK wake up and realise the legalisation, taxation and control of cannabis is what will save our economy?!?! This article sums it up perfectly:

    It in a great explanation of how if marijuana was legalised and taxed here in the UK it would pretty much save our economy and get us out of this vast pit of debt we have got ourselves in.

  • Comment number 86.

    hello I’m 27 I’ve seen documentary’s and there more mocumentorys on BBC Three about cannabis, you seemed to focus on social crime rather than posting something useful to get the right judgment of the public and you shadow facts for the use and social control, and i know your main viewing audience is teen to late 20's because I’m one of them but it’s like you saying were a bit thick and also making us out to be criminals you could be putting us to violence and crime.

    I’ve had depression, anxiety, bouts of over eating bouts of eating disorders in the other direction I’m underweight at the moment I’ve got IBS and abdominal pain that began when i was about 14-16 (wasn’t a smoker of tobacco or weed) chronic fatigue in my right shoulder I’m hypoglycaemic I’m very tired all the time I have trouble getting to sleep , Cannabis has helped me though all these problems there are lots of links to information about cannabis and how its used medically and about the scientific information to its chemicals and to the health benefits granny storms list is the one you should Google for information about medical use here’s a link showing the use in the teen demographic in the states where it’s used medically

  • Comment number 87.

    I was originally interested in the program, I don't smoke weed or tobacco either, I was looking for an informed and non biased program and maybe a comparision between legal drugs (alchol and tobacco). I was almost instantly disappointed with what seems to be other government sponsored show.
    The canabis is adicitive comment, without any information and is still very disputed, compared to a comment made by Lovablebitch who was a heavy user and stopped and felt better for it, I know a lot of heavy smokers who can't stop despite millions of pounds thrown into it also smokers feel better as well after they give up and the affects wear off.
    To date no one has died from weed whereas a staggering 300 000 die from ciggerettes each year, James could have asked why nothing is done or action taken to stop ciggarette smoking and make it illegal.
    Also knowing the chain where it's grown or come from, I would also ask any smoker or tobaccoist where the tobbaco comes from, as I think it is very unlikely they would know.
    I think ciggs are easy to tax weed isn't because it isn't as widely used is probably closer to the point. A point was made how much money was made, in the face of what BAT (British Amercian Tobacco) made
    To me I switched of early and just see it as a pile of biased and full of leading questions and having no real research value. I also thought choosing an ex-actor was very poor, or has he been involved with research or in a medical, physicological or psychological field? If it was going to be unbiased why not use professors, doctors or someone related to this area of drugs both legal and illegal?? probably because they might give honest answers and not toe the government line
    The show itself, to me, was some out of work actor on a jolly getting paid. All in all a very poor program, not thought out, with my license fee being wasted.......again! :-(

  • Comment number 88.

    I’m a long time cannabis user and I was surprised by this program
    I can honestly say if cannabis was legal none of this would happen. cannabis does less damage than cigarettes so why is cannabis so illegal. I see the fact that it its illegal the reason gangs use illegal immigrants to grow the drugs they need to create money. it was a great programe but there needs to be more programes in favor of cannibis and the way it helps students like me.

  • Comment number 89.

    Interesting documetary but never mentions that the only reason we have a lot of the problems associated with organised crime is because it is illegal. this does not make me look at cannabis in a different light it makes me look at the law in the same light. the sooner all drugs are legalised then the better a world we will have. they do not want people using mushrooms or cannabis as these are the type of drugs that free peoples minds to think beyond the consumerist , capatilist bullshit agenda that they would like us to live by....AMEN.


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