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tv   Cannabis  BBC News  August 27, 2017 9:30pm-10:01pm BST

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to that question is "yes". so basically, we're visiting a venue where they offer a fully medicated meal, food, to brighton cannabis club members. when you say fully medicated, that means there is loads of weed in the meal. yes, it's cannabis infused. so it will get you high if you consume it. so this meal is all about taking lots of cannabis, basically? yeah. lots of people today — it's a rainy, drizzly day at the seaside — most people willjust go to the pub at lunchtime. why notjust have a pint, like everyone else? why does it have to be cannabis? for us, we consider cannabis to be a less harmful alternative to basically smoking tobacco or drinking alcohol. and that isn't for everyone. so where exactly are we going, because we are just wandering the streets a little bit at the moment? i can't tell you the exact location. what it is is a restaurant in brighton that will allow you, 2a hours in advance, to book in a fully medicated menu, if you are a brighton cannabis club member. right. that makes it sound quite dodgy. unfortunately, that is just due to the legality. that is why it is only available for brighton cannabis club members. so in the kitchen here, a couple of chefs have been hard at work all morning, knocking up some food. just taking a look over there, now, it looks pretty
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impressive, to be honest. and, i'll be honest, it is not the kind of food you would expect in a sort of cafe that you might get in amsterdam or somewhere like that. it is not brownies and space cake or anything like that, it is pretty high—end food. and i've actually been chatting to the chef who is behind it, and he has worked in some really top restaurants. before you get the wrong end of the stick, this is not what they are going to be putting in all the food. this green stuff here is actually genuinely a dressing for it. the food is going to be infused with an oil that goes through it, and that's where the cannabis will be. what's for starters today, then? so it will be corn—fed chicken goujons, with black garlic aioli, and for the main course, we will be having grilled sea bream fillet and with purple afghan and pea arancini. i mean, where in there is the cannabis? where are we finding cannabis in that meal? so you find it in the pea arancini. the purple afghan will be the strain, and it'll be in the pea arancini. it's strange, isn't it?
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because we're sat here and it is quite a civilised event. we're all sat around, a glass of red wine and it is quite a relaxed atmosphere. but the government would say what you are doing is illegal, and it is illegal because of the harm it can do to you, and your friends, and also wider society. why do you think you should be doing this? we believe that that information is outdated, their reports and basically the research is all very outdated. if you take a look at spain, portugal, canada, america — they are all coming through with progressive, forward—thinking policies that are basically finding more of a positive impact, and utilizing the cannabis culture for the positives it can do for the local community, for the industry, for medical patients, for recreational users thatjust want to have a social experience but not be criminalized for it. i mean, it's pretty obvious, you represent brighton cannabis club, it is blazed all over your t—shirt. how popular is the club? so far we have over 400 club members. we have been around for three orfour years. we have over 40,000 instagram followers, 6,000 facebook likes, and basically we keep growing. we've had one of our outdoor
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events, green pride, which has grown year on year. our first year we only had 100 people turn up to it. the second year, 1,000. 0urthird year1,500 and about eight different stalls. this year, we hit over 3000 people attending and about 25 different stalls, setting up for the day. and we have basically limited police interruption. that might be rob's experience in brighton, but i want to get a sense of the national picture from greg, chair of the uk cannabis social clubs. generally we've got a movement that's built up now. six years ago, when we started, in 2011, we didn't have any clubs in the country, people were just growing their own, and consuming their own and if they got busted, they got busted. but what we've done now is we have put out a model and there are over 100 clubs six years later, working towards that model, to try and say this is how we can integrate into the rest of society. we are a self—regulated model that has been show over the years to be successful. is the idea of this sort of thing, with all this fancy food knocking round, and this kind of environment,
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trying to take people away from the idea of what cannabis clubs might be? because i think a lot of people would think it's a smoky club, in amsterdam, or something like that. we are definitely trying to normalize cannabis use and to be open about it is really important. it does normalise it. it does gradually change minds and society. we are not asking people to suddenly go, "alright, we accept it now." we are saying, like, listen to what we have to say, we're not the demon people they might have once thought we were. the thing about spending time with rob, greg and the guys down at the meal, was what they were doing in that environment feels quite normal in that setting, but what you have to remember is, what they were doing was actually illegal. and frankly, they could have all been arrested for doing just that. and that is the question, when you're asking, should weed, cannabis — call it what you want — be illegal? the chances of the guys down there getting arrested today were probably quite slim but, had they done that in a country with much stricter drug laws,
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they probably would be. somewhere like sweden, which has got some of the toughest drug laws in europe, arguably the world. annika strandhall is the minister with responsibility for health and drug policy. in sweden, we have a very broad political support in both the government and parliament for our drug—free society. at the heart of swedish drug policy, this idea that cannabis is a gateway drug. can you explain why you hold that policy so close? we see, especially among young people, and also a lot of studies show that extensive use of cannabis, or regular use of cannabis at an early age, also affects especially young people's brains. while many swedes i've spoken to agree with the government's strict drug policy, there are plenty that don't. alexander bard is a bit of a celebrity here. the former musician and now a judge on sweden's got talent is also
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passionate about changing the law on drugs. essentially, why sweden was the saudi arabia of drugs — which it has been until recently in europe — was because in sweden, we had this idea that we'd have a government, it could be socialist or conservative, it didn't matter, but the government would actually sponsor an aggressive anti—drug policy. and suddenly sweden is at least the country in europe where drug policy and culture surrounding drugs is changing the fastest at the moment. we've come here because people say "oh, it is the strictest country in europe," but your argument is, it might be strict from the politicians, and the people putting the laws in place, but lots of young people are moving away from that, and their attitudes are changing. totally, totally. i mean, policy in sweden and the aggressive anti—drug stance is kind of an anomaly in swedish culture. sweden is incredibly liberal about sex, for example. so this aggressive conservative stand concerning drugs is kind of an anomaly in swedish policy. swedish drug policy has always been about this idea of the gateway drug.
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cannabis was seen as this gateway drug. all your drug policy is based around this philosophy, and lots of people still believe that to be the case. we have spoken to the head of police, who is tackling narcotics, and we have spoken to mps. all these people say that is still the case. why do you think that is different? it turned out it was a lie. that's frankly not true. it's not empirically true. that is not the way it works. ironically, some people start with lsd and then they smoke cannabis. if i come back in five years‘ time, will it be completely different? will it be a legalised, liberal system? we have to start differentiating between drugs that are recreational use and are not addictive. they are one category. then we have the other category which is incredibly addictive drugs that are destructive for you and make you dysfuctional as a human being. i don't see that we are going to legalise those drugs in a long time. rather we are going to have a much more advanced and civilised debate on how we deal with addiction per se. and i think sweden could definitely go at the forefront at that moment. later that evening, i find
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two friends in a bar, who have very different views on cannabis. so ijumped in for a chat. it is like with alcohol. i think it should be as prohibited as with alcohol. i don't see the difference between it. your off—licence is government regulated. yes. and that's how you would like to treat weed? yes, i think so. you can have a beer or a glass of wine or anything, pairing with food and wine or beer. but when it comes to drugs, it isjust drugs. and you think they should just be banned, and that is the easiest way to deal with it? yes, absolutely. but is that really like the solution to that? it is a generation question, actually. i think the younger ones, they smoke more, like... have you ever smoked a joint? yes, i have. but you wouldn't do it in front of her because you'd jeopardise your friendship? no, i know that she loves me anyway. the swedish approach on paper
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isn't a million miles from the laws we have in the uk. but my next stop is somewhere with a completely different approach. 16 years ago, portugal took the bold step of decriminalising all drugs. and while that does not mean they have been legalised, it does mean if you are stopped with a small amount of anything from cannabis to heroin, you will be treated as if you have a medical problem, rather than a criminal one. drjoao goulao is the man who designed the system. we started from a catastrophic position. we had one of the highest rates of problematic reviews in europe by the late 90s. it was almost impossible to find a portuguese family that had no problems in relations with drugs. we decided to try a new approach. we are happy, 15, 16 years later, we can look back and say that we have a lot of improvement in the consequences of drug use in portugal.
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chatting to people in lisbon, it is clear that most people seem to think that the government has got itjust about right when it comes to the more liberal, kind of medical approach to drugs. but as with these things, not everybody agrees. we are heading just outside of the city, now, to meet a guy who runs his own drug clinic. the interesting thing about him is that, from what we've heard, he thinks it has gone that little bit too far. hi, carlos, nice to meet you, how are you doing? how are you? good. carlos fugas has been working to help users for over 30 years, and now runs this residential rehab centre for recovering addicts. what is it about the portuguese system that you think has just overstepped the mark? we need more restrictive measures, because it is too easy for our youngsters to get drugs. as we have walked around,
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we have seen clearly people dealing in the streets, in certain areas, and that is because, in your mind, they're allowed to carry quite a lot of drugs on them, so it's quite an easy cover, you can just walk around and say, "oh, this is for me". that is the main problem we have. but i must clarify that i am in favour of decriminalisation and not against the system. i think the real problem is the business that is behind all this movement. clients, they just want to have a good time when they start consuming drugs. but afterwards, that good time becomes a nightmare. 23—year—old andrea showed me around the centre. he has been living here for 6 months, and i'm keen to find out more about his drug problems. at first, i had problems with hashish, cannabis — they were the first. then i started to go to parties, trans—parties, and i start to take amphetamines,
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and later, when i was 16 or 17, i started to take cocaine. and that was very bad for me. i destroyed my life with that. quite a common path that people mention, isn't it? it is controversial, people don't agree, but this idea of a gateway. so you start smoking cannabis, then go on to other drugs. do you see a link between your cannabis use and your later use in other drugs? yes, because we get used to the drugs and then they seem to stop working and we need something harder. how have drugs, specifically cannabis and these psychedelic drugs that you take, affected your mental health? have you suffered with mental health issues because of drugs? cannabis has thc and psychotropics thatreally busts your head. that really busts your head. i started having psychotic episodes and i ended in the hospital because i hear voices in my head
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and that was very bad. when i walk in the street, i have always have the feeling that someone is stalking me and i need to hide and run. but then i started to take the right pills, the right medication, to heal myself and it is working and i am grateful to that. the final stop for me in portugal is the dissuasion court. i think it must be this one. this is definitely the address we have been given. well, they have let us in, so that's a good sign. it's certainly not what you would expect of a court back in britain. maybe we've got the wrong end of the stick, maybe this is not a traditional court. i must admit, it is getting weirder. it's definitely not the entrance to a court you would be accustomed to back home. users who are caught with small amounts of drugs are referred
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here and dealt with as medical patients and not criminals. door bell rings. hi,jim. nice to meet you. this is the waiting room. these are the rooms where we have the preliminary interview before the hearing stage. this is the room where we are having a hearing now. we'll be able to join them. ricardo has been given an appointment, after being caught with cannabis at a music festival. he has agreed to let us film his hearing, if we do not show his face. i heard the word hashish mentioned there. he was caught with some cannabis? yes, he was caught with a small amount of hashish, cannabis derivative. because he's a non—addict, a recreational user, first—time offence, we suspend the procedure for three months. if he is not caught a second time in that period of treatment, we will close the procedure. after the hearing, i am keen
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to have a chat with ricardo, to see what he thinks of the dissuasion court. we won't film your face. do you think this process, so chatting to a psychologist, a doctor, coming in here, has it made you think about your drug use? exactly. i'm not addicted so i will stop. from now on it will make me stop. i don't need it. the system in portugal, i think, this is the best because it is not for one mistake that a person has to get a life sentence. back in the uk, and is it time for a change here? at the last election, only one major party said it wanted to do things differently. the lib dems want to legalise cannabis. hi, there. nice to meet you. i went to see their new leader, vince cable. the evidence is clear that if you want to stop abuse and damage to young people, you have got to bring the trade into the open and out of the hands
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of the criminal underworld. the government says it bases its policy on research and evidence and it says it is protecting people from the harms that drug causes. well, i certainly don't want to promote drug use, and there are some forms of drugs that are legal, like cigarettes and alcohol. and they do cause harm but they're still legal and we try to minimise their use, and you use taxation and regulations to try and limit it. others are illegal, cannabis being a good example. but there are serious negative side—effects from driving it underground. and common sense suggests to me that you should try to regulate and control this market rather than just have a free—market anarchy in the underground, which is what happens at the moment. when cannabis plants are being bred and grown, they have a substance called "cannabigerol" that goes on to form three other substances when the plant grows. two are really important when it comes to how the user is affected by the drug. thc — that's what gets people high —
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but at increased levels, it is also the thing blamed for mental health issues. the other substance is cbd and it acts as an anti—psychotic, and counteracts some of the negative effects of thc. depending on the genetics of the plant, you can either have a high thc, low cbd strain, or cbd can be the main compound, or you can have something a bit more balanced. there are three main types of cannabis products and the amount of thc in each of them varies massively: hash — where cbd is generally higher and thc tends to be low; herbal cannabis — where thc levels are low and cbd is usually low or not there at all; and then there is high potency cannabis, often called skunk, which has high levels of thc and almost no cbd. it is also the most common type of cannabis being sold, making up around 80%—90% of the market in the uk and, some argue, it is this lack of cbd and high thc in skunk that leads to mental health
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problems, especially in those with underlying problems. we wanted to put what we found in sweden and portugal to the government here, but it wouldn't speak to us. in an email, it says it has no plans to legalize cannabis, saying there is clear scientific and medical evidence that is a harmful drug which can damage people's mental and physical health. well, the government wouldn't speak to us in person there, but we are going to meet somebody who will. very passionate about this subject. he's a hereditary peer called lord monson, and he has a very personal reason for being interested in this subject. that looks like a suitably grand house for a lord. so right, we'lljust move in here. jim, really nice to meet you. he has invited me along to talk about his 21—year—old son, who had a problem with cannabis. we noticed that there was something that was becoming strange with rupert, about a year ago. anyway, he was diagnosed with drug induced psychosis. and he was duly sectioned. one day injanuary he said
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to his mother that the voices were getting so strong in his head and he was really scared. anyway, two days later he went out in the evening and then... he killed himself. afterwards, i spoke to the doctors. somebodyjust said, in an off—hand way, "this is yet another kind of casualty of skunk". and i said well, isn't that just sort of. .. cannabis must‘ve changed. he said, well, this is not really the cannabis that you might have known, with the greatest respect, sir, a0 years ago when you might have been experimenting with the odd toke. he said this is completely different stuff. so i looked it up on the internet and i was actually shocked to discover how strong this variant of cannabis is, and as such, it is my belief that the way to tackle skunk is to legalise the old—fashioned cannabis so it has
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the right balance of thc with cbd and it has only a certain level of potency. lots of people listening to this will find it strange that a drug that you say killed your son, you're now campa|gn|ng to legalise it. i think that skunk is... it's been labelled as cannabis but it is not really. it is a frankenstein variant. some people will argue that, frankly, your son may have had underlying mental issues and that's what led to him killing himself and it wasn't the drug. well, indeed, yes, that has been put to me. i received a whole lot of letters, people who read about rupert's death. can i read you out one of them? yeah, sure.
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it says, "i was so sad to read about the loss of your son, rupert. there are so many paralles for the death of my son. he also had a history of mental illness and in the most part caused by smoking cannabis and skunk..." lord monson has received a number of letters all containing stories very similar to rupert's. whilst we're going through them, his friend, louisa, arrives. hello, louisa! how lovely to see you. she is a drug worker in london and they have been working together on an approach to high—potency cannabis. you work with people who use all different types of drugs — heroin addicts, crack addicts. how does that compare with someone that's got skunk problems? this will not be a popular answer, but i would say give me a room full of heroin addicts than skunk addicts. if i take my therapist's hat off and i think of my own sons, i remember saying to my older son, i would prefer you to take heroin than to smoke skunk, and he looked at me and went, "mum, you can't say that!" he doesn't work with the impact. heroin and crack, it does what it says on the tin.
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it's physical, it's emotional, it's spiritual. whereas skunk is the psychotic aspect. somebody has to wake up and say the unsayable, which is that there is going to be generations of kids with severe mental health issues or, with nicholas's case, kids dying and it won't be from your normal 0d from a heroin overdose, it will be from suicide because they can't deal with the voices and it is the voices which i work with. i just want to get one final thought from you, you say you have had this correspondence with the prime minister, you've had letters going backwards and forwards. recently, in the latest government drug strategy, the idea of decriminalization was mentioned but very briefly and, in short, it was dismissed as not having enough evidence. i think that the liberal democrats have embraced my argument and i know that there are many people in the conservative party, whom beforehand you would never have expected to embrace counter—intuitive initiatives such
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as the one i'm suggesting, and i think there could be in the next five years, i hope, a change of heart from the government. at least a green paper, i should imagine. since meeting lord monson, i spoke to the prime minister. unfortunately, we were not allowed to film the conversation, but she told us she stands by her government's new drug strategy, which she says is all about helping people recover. walking around here — and it is not hard to find signs of people using cannabis. everywhere you go in this area of east london and, to be honest, in most other places in the uk, you can see it and even on a weekday morning, you can smell it in the air. with the same experience in portugal, which on the face of it has much more relaxed drug policies, but i keep thinking back to ricardo, who we saw at the dissuasion court. he was caught with a fewjoints
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going into a music festival, and had to go through a half—hour appointment with a psychiatrist, he had to go that kind of court case experience and, i keep thinking, what would have happened to him if that had happened in the uk, had he been caught with the same amount of drugs at a festival here? realistically, i suspect not a lot. so it does beg the question, when it comes to say, weed, do we already have one of the more tolerant approaches in europe? i will start and end this forecast with an area of high pressure. some variations in between which we will cover in the next three and a half minutes. for most of the country,
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monday is a bank holiday in this area of bring something very settled on one thing the non—wales. further west a different story, strengthening winds across northern ireland and scotland and bringing some outbreaks of potentially heavy rain here. lots more cloud across the north, western parts of wales, but east wales and much of england, dry, plenty of sunshine. quite a range in temperature as you would expect. 17 degrees to the north—west of scotla nd expect. 17 degrees to the north—west of scotland but in the best of the sunshine across the central and eastern parts of england, potentially highs of 28 degrees. it will be a fine end to the day here. further north and west, that band six its way in overnight. improving pictures across scotland and northern ireland but still very windy here. it will be a mild side with temperatures up to between ten and 15 degrees for most, 16 or 17 in the south—east. that front continues to slip its way south and east on
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tuesday. it weakening affair, so through tuesday morning, there could be some patchy light rain and drizzle across midlands. that will $0011 drizzle across midlands. that will soon fizzle out. lots of cloud around. generally a dry day. still windy across northern ireland and scotland. a fresher feel for much of northwestern and western parts of the country. still holding onto some warmth and humidity the further east and south you are. let's look ahead to wednesday. we are being attacked from two fronts, one from this system in the atlantic and another from the near continent. it brings a slightly more unsettled day. if we see any rain in the week, it will probably be on wednesday. the exact detail of it hard to define at this stage. it will be cloudy. some outbreaks of rain at times. it will not be raining all day, and the rain likely to amount to much. what we will see generally fresher conditions across the whole of the
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country midweek, 16 to 20 degrees high. into thursday, the system slowly pushes east. some may linger for a time thursday morning across the south—east, but aside from few showers, much of the country will have a dry day. temperatures between 17 and 21 degrees typically, in light winds, should feel quite pleasa nt light winds, should feel quite pleasant out and about. almost a repeat performance on friday, mainly dry, one or two showers, but in the sunshine a high of 20 degrees. should feel pleasant. do the south—west, late on friday, it is this area of low pressure. looks like this area of high pressure is going to dominate however, as we head into the weekend. what that will do is deflect any low—pressure systems. it's exact position may change. maybe some patchy rain to the far north—west of scotland. 0therwise the far north—west of scotland. otherwise a lot of dry weather into the weekend. we are drawing up this
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warm airfrom the near the weekend. we are drawing up this warm air from the near continent. particularly across the south and east, into early september, there should be some warmth. should be largely settled, though cannot rule out one of two showers, but looks like a lot of dry weather for the start of next month. this is bbc news. the headlines at 10pm: beyond anything experience. thousands of people i rescued from flood waters in texas. a change in policy on brexit. labour says britain should stay in the customer market for a period after leaving the eu.
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