Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Drugs and the media

For the last forty years and more, the British people have been systematically lied to and mislead as to the basis on which the country’s laws and policies relating to the recreational use of drugs have been been formulated and drawn up, not only by the government - and that means every government since the late 1960s - by by our supposedly independent and free press which has actively colluded in a lie of gargantuan proportions.
That's part of the conclusion of a long and detailed post at the Ministry of Truth. I have a small anecdote to add.

I had lunch with Dr Betty Tilden some time around 1995. A retired consultant psychiatrist, she had latterly specialised in religious cults (I was investigating a Catholic movement called the Neo Catechumenate). She moved into the study of the effects of cult membership on the mind from the study of narcotics on the mind, and felt there were similarities. In 1968, in the middle of her drug specialisation, she had acted as a sort of semi-detached advisor to the Wootton Committee, which was considering Cannabis and the law.

As the release date approached, there were leaks and a controversy developed. The Wootton Committee couldn't, in fact, find much wrong with Cannabis, and yet they didn't recommend it be legalised. They were criticised, by different people, for both these things.

Dr Tilden was working in the Maudsley Hospital in South London as the leaks began, and she was telephoned by a journalist working for the London Evening News. She hadn't, at that time, seen the report. He read to her various parts of the leaked document; she realised when she did finally see it that he had been, to be polite, highly selective.

When he asked for her comments she replied mildly, "Well, it sounds like a bit of a junkies' charter". The next day, this quote from her was in headlines around the world. She was represented as a leading expert who had condemned the report.

Her view, in fact, was that Cannabis should be legalised - not decriminalised, legalised - and, she emphasised, taxed. In other words, her view was the exact opposite of that suggested by the media.

The response of the Home Secretary to this report was to raise the level of penalty for cannabis possession.

The government and the media colluding in a lie? I'd say Unity has a point.

1 comment:

dearieme said...

I looked only at the early bit of the article, which explained something I've wondered about for a while - I had a recollection that when I was young, we had a way of coping with heroin addiction that worked, and I'd wondered when and why it was changed. I ken noo. Partly it was American pressure - dear God, who would accept advice from the nation that tried Prohibition?