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Pontifications on Poison

Being some ramblings on events associated with poisonous plants.

Friday 7th December 2012

I’ve just finished watching ‘Breaking the Taboo’ the new documentary about the work of The Global Commission on Drug Policy. The film was premiered in London on 5th December, in New York on the 6th and is now available, free of charge, for a month, on YouTube.

The purpose of this entry is just to encourage you to watch the film in full though I will offer a few comments after.

UPDATE. The free version of the film has been with drawn. The video below is the trailer, which will give you the chance to decide whether to pay to watch the whole thing.

The first thing to say is that I think the producers have done the right thing by making this excellent film available to all. As I write, there is no mention of its existence anywhere on the BBC website but the quality of the production is easily the match for many broadcast documentaries. This is a documentary that should be shown on TV.

I'll limit any sort of a review to saying the film makes it arguments sensibly and powerfully. In particular, I liked the reference to the success of imposing regulation on tobacco, as has happened in the last 30 or so years, as suggesting that regulation not legalisation is the way to move forward.

I haven’t yet seen the other new documentary on drug policy, ‘The House I Live In’ because that is being distributed in the conventional way and I will have to hope I can get to Edinburgh just before Christmas to see it at Filmhouse but I’ve read plenty of comments suggesting that, like ‘Breaking The Taboo’ it leaves the viewer wondering how much longer this crazy approach to drug policy can continue.

It will be interesting to see how widely the film is viewed. At 58 minutes I think there is a danger that it will appeal only to those who are already engaged in the debate about drug policy whereas it should be viewed by the largest possible number of people. ‘The House I Live In’ is even longer at 108 minutes.

But, whilst these two new documentaries might suggest cause for optimism there is still the major problem of the unwillingness of the US government to listen and its willingness to continue to lie.

I interrupted my viewing of ‘Breaking the Taboo’ for an item on BBC Radio4’s ‘Today’ programme about the changes in state law in Washington and Colorado. After a piece from a reporter in Mexico pointing out that a great many of those who have died in the past five years were killed by weapons bought legally in the USA (before being illegally shipped to Mexico), James Naughtie interviewed Gil Kerlikowske, the US Drug Csar. It was surprising that listeners could understand what Kerlikowske said considering just how far he has his head buried in the sand. The interview (without the preceding report) is available.

Because, I think, the US federal government really doesn’t know what to do about November’s election results concerning Cannabis sativa, marijuana, all Kerlikowske could do was repeat the mantra that cannabis is universally dangerous.

Kerlikowske makes one brief appearance in ‘Breaking The Taboo’. That is, his name appears in a caption saying that neither he nor the US government was willing to participate in the documentary.

If enough people watch these two films, Kerlikowske might come to see that having your fingers in your ears singing ‘la la la’ while also having your head buried just gives you a mouthful of sand.

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