By Chris Bovey
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.
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.