Anger at biased BBC coverage of cannabis 420 event in Hyde Park

By Chris Bovey

420 cannabis protest at London Hyde Park, April 20th 2013.

Cannabis 420 protest in Hyde Park.

NORML UK have criticised the BCC for its biased reporting of the UK 420 smoke out in Hyde Park, which was a peaceful protest at the UK’s cannabis laws attended by over 10,000 people.

The headline of the article claims there is anger at the fact only two arrests were made at the hugely successful event organised by the London Cannabis Club, yet if you read the actual article you’ll find the anger is only from anti-cannabis campaigner, Mary Brett. The article gave several lines of comment to Mary Brett, allowing her a platform to publish her false information and scaremongering about cannabis, such as falsely claiming cannabis is dangerous and that it is now somehow different to cannabis of the 1960s and 70s.

The article lacked any impartiality and did not allow any counter-argument from a representative of the London Cannabis Club or any other UK drug reform group, despite the fact the BBC had been in contact with both the LCC and NORML UK about the event. It seems they just wanted permission to use our photograph for the story.

The BBC’s own Charter says the BBC are supposed to give fair and balanced coverage to news stories and make every effort to show both sides of an argument, in this case they have clearly failed to do that.

NORML UK spokesman, Des Humphrey said: “While I appreciate the BBC has to allow the prohibitionists to have their say when covering news stories about cannabis, it would be nice if they could also let people who want to see the law changed have a say too.

“The BBC is supposed to cover both sides of the argument. They would never publish a story that only gave positive coverage to the cannabis issue, without allowing a prohibitionist to give their point of view, so I don’t think it is fair the BBC should give such biased coverage to allow someone like Mary Brett to have a platform to exclusively spout her ill-informed nonsense, without giving a right of reply.

“You’d think the fact over 10,000 people turned out for this event would indicate to the BBC not everybody in the UK agrees with Mary Brett,” said Mr Humphrey.

The 420 cannabis smoke out has received a reasonable amount of media coverage, including a story in the Daily Mail that was initially fair and balanced, however, it was subsequently changed the following day to make it more negative about cannabis. Articles about the London Cannabis Club 420 event also appeared in the Evening Standard and the Telegraph.

The sun sets at the London 420 cannabis protest in Hyde Park 20th April 2013.

London Hyde Park 420 cannabis protest, April 20th 2013. Note to the BBC, yes you can use our photo, but please be fair and let us have a quote too.


Event organiser, Orson Boon, who runs the London Cannabis Club said: “I am not surprised by the one sided reporting of the mainstream media, yet we had a hugely successful 420 where thousands and thousands of people of all ages and social backgrounds gathered to protest about our cannabis laws.

“We expect it from the Daily Mail, however it is disappointing to see the BBC do this.

“On the plus side, Peter Hitchens has published a blog complaining about the event, so we must be doing something right,” said Orson Boon.

NORML UK has submitted a complaint to the BBC about the biased article using their online complaints form; we await their response with bated breath. Hopefully, they will acknowledge their error and correct the article to inject a bit more impartiality into it, we will keep you updated as to their response.

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  1. Does anyone really think this joke of a country will legalise/decriminalise cannabis any time soon? Barring some monumental discovery or revelation about its medicinal use, I’d say we’ll all be in the ground before any real progress is made.

    Lucky Americans.


      – British Journal of Cancer, “Cannabinoids induce growth inhibition & apoptosis (cell death) in prostate Cancer”
      – Journal of the National Cancer Institute, “Cannabinoids, have been associated with anti-carcinogenic effects”
      – Queen Mary’s School of Medicine & Dentistry in London England, “Cannabis destroys Cancer cells”
      – Cancer Research UK, “(Cannabinoids) can slow growth & spread of Cancer cells or even kill them”

      How’s that for a revelation? Want more? OK

      As of the 7th of March 2013, UK company GW Pharma, that also make Sativex from cannabis, have gained a Patent in the USA to make a Cancer-fighting medicine from Cannabis cannabinoids.

      • Haha, you really think I’m not aware of its medicinal use? I meant a truly revoutionary discovery that would make governments look ridiculous for not at least decriminalising it. To those of us who aren’t ignorant, we consider this to already be the case yeah, but it’s still not exactly a definitive cure for cancer (for example) is it? As a result, there’s not going to be significant public pressure for legalisation, so the government can get away with just ignoring the facts.

        A discovery of that kind of magnitude is what would most likely prompt for reform to cannabis laws in the short-term. Obviously this is just hypothetical, and while there’s been many documented studies on how it can be used to treat illnesses, it unfortunately would take A LOT more than several studies on its medicinal benefits for the UK to make progress with cannabis laws.

        That was my point. It’s pretty funny how you jumped at the opportunity to throw studies at me – that I’m already aware of by the way – especially when most people on this site will already be in the know anyway.

        • As I wrote, as of the 7th of March 2013, UK company GW Pharma, that also make Sativex from cannabis, have gained a Patent in the USA to make a Cancer-fighting medicine from Cannabis cannabinoids.

          Since Sativex is now available in the UK, without restriction, soon this new GW Pharma medicine will be too.

          The problem about “Cancer Cure” is that it is against the Law for any organisation to claim one. See 1939 Cancer Act. All that can be claimed is a “Cancer Treatment”. This was done because someone found a cure and proved it but the medical groups at the time stood to lose big money if it got out. Ironically, we now use variations on that cure today, in the form of Chemo/Radio- “therapy”.

          There are over a dozen proven cures for cancers that do not use radioactive material, from B17 to Bi-carbonated Soda to Mistletoe to human breast milk, and all discovers, with rare exception, have either been imprisoned for their claims, ridiculed, or been “found dead”.

          Money is more powerful a motivator to those that stand to lose it than to those that stand to gain it.

        • you are retarded sir. there has already been a huge discovery in cannabis as mee man just explained. it cures cancer fool. there is no other medical condition that can top cancer, so shut up noob

          • You come across as pretty stupid. With that Facebook profile picture though, it’s expected.

  2. It was clearly Hitchens that edited the original Dm article that was a rare non hysterical manipulative fabricated morality barrage the words are identical in his blog post. I made a comment about not even bothering to have an argument with him and that he is a complete joke if he thinks he is in the same league to quote George Orwell to suit his purposes. My comment got removed after 5 minutes ahaha. Peter Prickchins. =)

    It is pure insanity that were still fighting this battle after 60+ years. All people do after having a spliff is enjoy the moment, the people around you and most of all food and music. Just shows how lazy and willing to be ignorant the wider population is, if you do your research and have an objective enough mind its not hard to find all the negative propaganda is farce. Im still gonna toke everyday just means i have to have a little sub conscious anxiety

    • Cannabis is a plant, so it cannot be legalised. The law controls our actions as a person, since cannabis is not dangerous, as you have incorrectly stated, there is no need for the law to interfere with our right to use a plant that grows naturally on this planet.

    • I agree with Marc…. if you think Cannabis should stay illegal, i am completely against you… i would rather have alcohol banned, than have cannabis remain illegal.

    • i bet you drink alcohol though right? there is no drug more dangerous than alcohol fool. and cannabis is not dangerous, nor is it a drug. its a plant. please go to school and get educated fool

    • You’re right Tom and do you remember Mars Bars and Wagon Wheels? Wow, they were much bigger then and what about Opal fruits? Weren’t they just so much better than Starburst? I also remember a packet of cigs costing like 2 shillings… zzzzzzzzz

    • This is a favourite lie of the prohibitionists that cannabis is somehow different to the weed David Cameron was smoking back in the day while he was at Eton and it is a lie NORML UK will be addressing in the coming month.

  3. CNN did a good cover of more 420 protests, untill the shooting in Denver. I am happy to see 100’s of people on social media are spreading the truth ( also on G+ ) Good Job for the cannabisten in the UK !

  4. The BBC have responded and have told us the article was balanced and factual. Quelle surprise.

    Dear Mr Bovey,

    Many thanks for your email.

    I have looked again at the story and I believe it is a balanced and factual account of the event (as would always be our aim) – a mass gathering at which hundreds of people were breaking the law as it currently stands.

    We feature a range of comments, including a tweet from the London Cannabis Club. There are also clear links to a picture gallery of the global marijuana march, which includes information about the potential medicinal aspect of cannabis, as well as an article with the headline ‘Cannabis makes pain more bearable’.

    Best regards, and thanks for your feedback which is much appreciated.

    Laura Ellis, BBC News website

    • WHAT law were these people breaking? Taking drugs, of any kind, was never a criminal offence in the UK. Did she mean possession of a controlled substance? I saw no evidence of that and if she did then she is required, by Law, to inform the Police!

      Only person that can be proven to have broken a law is her. Either she’s with-holding information from the police about a crime or she’s making false accusation of libel against innocent people without proof. Both are crimes and she’s guilty of one or the other just from her statement that “hundreds of people were breaking the law”.

      Perhaps you should inform her of her crime and see what she says for her, “holier-than-thou”, self.

  5. Why does Mary Brett even have a say in this issue? What are her credentials? Perhaps she should focus her hate on REAL issues rather than spouting utter rubbish. The fact that she even has a say in this is completely absurd. One of her main arguments seems to be the old fashioned “protect the children”. If she truly wanted to protect the children then she would support taking cannabis out of the hands of criminals. Children are always going to experiment, you may as well make it as safe as possible for when they do. Who in their right mind actually thinks prohibition is a viable tactic – have we not learnt from history?!

    • Evil people create emotive arguments and nothing is more emotive than protecting children. We all know on here that her arguments are at best misguided or completely wrong but given the charity status, they carry kudos for people who don’t understand or whose prejudices are not easy to overcome. The truth is the biggest problems are caused by prohibition itself. It’s a clumsy, unworkable mechanism with a laughable justification and an affront to any semblance of personal liberty. We all know this. Now we have to convince those who don’t.

    • Protect children as a father of 3 with a drug conviction of my own for personal possession I would love to and the best way is to legalise all drugs. I know first hand the damage going through your life with a drug conviction does ( 2 jobs lost one after 7 years due to CRB checks ). I would prefer my children smoke cannabis more than tobacco, I would also prefer this to them drinking alcohol. Want to protect children then stop criminalising them. Yes go after the big guys in the game, stop organised crime. but stop this madness. Stop spending millions just to criminalise our youth. You want to protect them legalise cannabis hopefully they will then use cannabis rather than these so called “legal highs” most of which we know nothing about the long term affects of. David Cameron admitted to smoking cannabis would he be where he is today if a police officer had caught him??? Beware of misguided hypocrites.

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