For a bit of context, the British press – particularly the British tabloid press, which isn’t above playing fast and loose with the facts, in order to sell a few extra copies – is oddly hung up on the notion that “skunk weed” is somehow uniquely harmful, and worse than other cannabis.
Louisa Philips Kulukundis: Scared of the Skunk
The irresponsible and reckless words about cannabis from a psychotherapist on a BBC documentary have provoked incredulity and outrage in the United Kingdom.
I would say give me a room full of heroin addicts than skunk addicts … I remember saying to my older son I would prefer you to take heroin that to smoke skunk … There will be generations of kids with severe mental health issues. – Louisa Philips Kulukundis
While this is faintly amusing to Americans who are used to the “skunk” varieties just representing more consumer choice, in Britain it has resulted in harsher cannabis laws after a spate of negative media coverage.
‘Huge and justifiable anger’
The “idiotic” words of Louisa Philips Kulukundis, who works with Steps2Recovery and is a member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy provoked “huge and justifiable anger,” according to activist Peter Reynolds of CLEAR.
It would be easy to launch into a tirade against Ms Kulukundis but her words and their crass stupidity speak for themselves. I wonder how many kids, listening to her recommendation on the BBC’s ‘yoof’ channel will think ‘Well I’ve smoked weed loads of times with no trouble, now this woman who’s an expert says heroin is safer, maybe I’ll see if I can get hold of some.’ – Reynolds
Kulukundis’ dangerous reefer madness mentality was on full display in the BBC Newsbeat documentary, ‘Cannabis: Time For a Change?‘
Reynolds attacked the irresponsibility of the BBC in allowing these words to ever be broadcast in the first place. He said CLEAR is pursuing a complaint against the network.
It is a shame that the BBC has spoiled what is a clear shift in its position on cannabis. Instead of mindless obedience to the government’s bad science and propaganda it is now recognising that reform is the only rational way forward.
Heroin deaths hit record levels
Highlighting the extreme foolishness of Kulukundis’ words is the fact that heroin overdoses more than doubled in the U.K. from 579 in 2012, to 1,201 in 2015.
The rise in deaths can be partly attributed to a rise in the purity of heroin, following a shortage in 2011, reports The Guardian.
British drug addiction services have been a victim of austerity cuts. In 2013 responsibility devolved from the National Health Service (NHS) to local authorities – which aren’t legally required to provide any support at all.
Reynolds pointed out that, as usual, the BBC’s coverage of cannabis is dominated by stereotypical caricatures of what it regards as cannabis users.
It still seems incapable of recognising that most of the three million regular cannabis consumers in the UK are not relics of the hippy era but hardworking people with families and ‘ordinary’ lifestyles. – Reynolds
According to Reynolds, the BBC should apologize, correct and broadcast a full explanation of why Kulukundis’ claim is scientifically inaccurate, and dangerous besides. Sadly, it will almost certainly have to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide any meaningful response at all,” Reynolds said.
Sadly, it will almost certainly have to be dragged kicking and screaming to provide any meaningful response at all. – Reynolds
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