tv Legalising Weed BBC News August 4, 2019 5:30am-6:01am BST
the headlines: the governor of the us state of texas has confirmed that 20 people were killed when a gunman opened fire on a shopping centre in the city of el paso. greg abbott said it was one of the deadliest days in the history of the state. 26 other people were wounded. there's been more violence in hong kong after a day of rival protests between pro—democracy and pro—beijing supporters. riot police fired tear gas to disperse the pro—democracy crowd. it's the ninth consecutive weekend the territory has seen protests despite increasingly stern warnings from china's central government about the unrest. the russian military says it's managed to put out another 16 large forest fires in siberia, as it seeks to contain blazes that have scorched vast areas of the territory. military planes and helicopters have been dumping water on fires in parts of the irkutsk and krasnoyarsk regions.
now on bbc news: after canada legalised marijuana, three mps went there to see if britain could do the same. canada was the first major western country to go fully legal, but has it worked? this programme contains adult themes. you could go to prison for a very long time in britain if you've got anything like this. there's been a big shift in attitudes to cannabis in the past few years. our current laws are a disaster. you might remember billy caldwell. his mum fought for him to get access to cannabis oil to help with his severe epilepsy. at every single stage of this campaign, we have mentioned making history. billy's case led to a big change at the end of 2018. medicinal cannabis products can now be legally prescribed to some patients across the uk for the first time. globally, where that's happened, it's often not been long before recreational use of the drug has followed. take, for example, canada. it legalised cannabis in october last year,
the first major western country to do so. that's good weed. with cannabis the uk's most popular illegal drug, a group of british mps and charities have come to canada to see what some call the world's biggest drugs experiment. have you ever seen this volume of cannabis yourself? i never saw any volume of cannabis! so, should the uk follow suit? in a couple of weeks, we're going to be following a first of its kind — three mps from across the political spectrum, heading to canada to see how legalising cannabis has worked out. but, first, i want to find out where they stand. starting here in north london with the tottenham mp, david lammy. .. ..not a man shy of having a strong opinion or two. the problem is in a constituency like mine, there's a brutal unfairness in the way that black youth are treated. they're stopped and searched. often when you go right back to the beginning of that conversation, of that young person
who picked up that knife, or that young person who gets caught handling drugs, the first contact with the police and with crime was marijuana use in their teens. so that's his view. can i go to westminster, please? but what about the other two mps? right, well, this building just here on the right is the home office. that's where uk drug laws are made. and we've done repeated stories when it comes to cannabis regulation, and they tell us repeatedly that there is no chance of changing the law when it comes to recreational drug use. that means that if you're caught with some cannabis, you could go to prison for five years. hello, good to see you. how are you doing? good to see you. first up, sir norman lamb from the liberal democrats, the only major uk political party to back legalising cannabis. i think, at the moment, we don't protect young people well. people have no idea what they're buying on the street, it could be very potent strains which is associated with risks to your mental health.
and to regulate and legalise the market so we can control potency seems to me to be much more sensible. which is obviously what they want to do, or what they are doing in canada. why is it you want to go and see their system up and running? is itjust to see what you can learn from it? i want to see what the teething problems are, what we can learn from their mistakes, and what they've done right, so that it can inform our approach in this country. but i really want to see it for myself, rather than just hear from others. the final mp on the trip is jonathan djanogly from the conservatives. he describes himself as an open book when it comes to drug policy. in my own constituency, in the last year, more young people smoked cannabis than they did tobacco. and so, people seem to be voting with their feet, and that says to me that i've got to take an interest in this. do you think you could be persuaded that there is a better way of doing it, or a different way
of doing it than we do here? yes, i certainly go in to this with an open mind, both in terms of legalisation and regulation. so, we'll catch up with the three of them pretty soon. during the film, you're likely to hear a couple of phrases that are often mentioned when you discuss cannabis, and they are thc and cbd. it's quite important to understand what they are, and it's definitely going to be important for those mps to understand it, too. thc is the thing in cannabis, the chemical compound, that gets you high. whereas cbd is the thing that counteracts some of the negative effects that thc can often have on the body. and some people say that cbd is good for things like sleep disorders, anxiety and some pain symptoms. so, with that cleared up, let's head a bit early to canada, and see how things are over there. vancouver, to be exact.
people here proudly call this the weed capital of the country. i'm going to be shown around by piper. hi. hey, jim, how are you? nice to meet you, how are you doing? right, first up then...you've got one of the weirdestjob titles i've ever heard of. best job title. go on, then — what is it? yeah, cannabis editor for the georgia street newspaper. which is an alternative magazine? it is. it's a long—standing independent newspaper here in vancouver. it's been operating for about 50 years, covering everything from arts and music, to politics and news and, of course, weed. and the fact you have thatjob title, and there is so much written about it, suggests quite how big cannabis is in vancouver, and canada generally, i suppose? yeah, absolutely. it's certainly not something i had planned for when studying journalism back in university. but because of the shifts that are happening in the country, politically, agriculturally, economically, you know, there is a big demand for this news, and it is certainly something that requires your full attention as a journalist. so it's great that i can actually cover it and use my full attention to do itjustice, hopefully. piper's offered to take us to a shop that sells cannabis. and if you're into weed, it's got a big claim to fame. they were one of the greater vancouver area's first licensed
stores after legalisation. proudly set on the little sign here. yeah, they've got it on a sign there, if you want to head inside, there's a couple of others. this place used to be run illegally, with authorities turning a bit of a blind eye. but it's now moved into being fully legal and that means some big changes. one of the major differences is the way you can present cannabis now. so, they're in smell—proof containers, but you can't actually access the product. right. it's not to be handled or touched or sampled. but they have these nifty containers now where you can actually pop up the top and smell them. jim, this is mike babins, he is the founder and owner of the store here. how are you doing? good. how has the process been? it's been... ..crazy. basically, everything has changed. i used to have a lot of funjust selling weed to people, and now i spend most of my time typing. right. so, it's more regulation? a lot. stores like mike's have been able to legally sell cannabis as well as pre—rolled joints, oils and capsules since october 2018.
but there are still some products that aren't currently available legally, including edibles, extracts and creams. around half the weed here is still bought on the black market. this is craig ex. hi. nice to meet you. piper has brought us to meet a guy who calls himself craig ex, or expertjoints. he runs a media company that specialises in... ..you guessed it — weed. they do a weekly livestream on youtube, it's got a recording studio and a website. craig and piper are going to show me one of the other ways to buy weed. what they're about to do is illegal. ..some pot cheetos. you like cheetos? i will not, obviously, as the guy from the bbc... i will not be consuming any of your pot cheetos. but you order what you want to buy. but, in general, do you like cheetos? i like cheetos. cheetos, in general, ok, with or without pot. let's do a little bit of flour, as well. if you've ever used deliveroo or uber eats or something similar,
the ordering process here will look really familiar. just like that, you just click on there and...? just like that. does that make it feel very normal? is that a bit of a danger? yes. and so, naturally, companies like this are going to step up and go, "here are the access points, and we'll make it easier "for our customers that are already going to the black market "because they can't get it at legal dispensaries." we only had to wait around ten minutes for their delivery to arrive. doorbell rings 0h! and that sound of the doorbell is our weed... it's suddenly there. yeah, so i guess we'll be seeing them in a minute. one of the other things that people have talked about as well, is level of packaging as well, that has been... hey. hello. passport 20 here, got a delivery for you. fantastic. could i see some id first, please? yeah, yeah, yeah... there you go. awesome. thank you. thank you very much. you brought the product. i have the goods. in a brown paper bag. amazing! if that is notjust iconic of black market, i don't know what is. so, right, let's have a look through this. it comes in a classic brown paper bag. we have smellproof packaging on the inside here. and, as you can see, we have...
these are pot cheetos infused with a sativa cannabis, some flour there. and then this is another product that has not yet been included in the legal framework. infused moisturiser or balm. it's... let's see. that's got all sorts of smell, compared to what you just smelled. right? yeah, that's very strong. it's very, very strong. it's a nice consistency. actually, the real telltale sign of quality cannabis is... ..comes from consuming it. right. and i think the best way to tell if this is quality cannabis is if i consume some of it. yeah. it's good weed. is it heavy? mm—hm. yeah... it's certainly better than. . . better
than the legal product i've tried so far, not to say that all legal product is bad, and not to say that all legal product is inconsumable, because it's definitely a spectrum, as well. but i would say the best cannabis i've had so far are from sources like this, where they genuinely care about breeding and growing good craft cannabis. vancouver is seen as a bit of a mecca for cannabis, but we're going to leave it behind for now. so this is toronto. we arrived late last night. and, already, you can sense that this is a very different city to vancouver. it feels really massive, like a classic north american city. and we're here to meet those three mps that we met back in the uk. the first day of the trip is all about mps hearing from the police and fellow politicians here. as they listen on, you can't help feeling they're learning about a huge experiment when it
comes to drug policy. my position as a canadian chief was... ..regulate it, control it, tax it. you can't come all the way and sit in a conference room and be talked at. you need to see it first hand. the tour, so far, has been a lot of talks, it's been a lot of experts, economists coming along, trying to persuade the people in the group that this is the way that we should do things back in the uk. well, now, things have got a bit more interesting, i suppose, because they've come out to see how it's done out here in real life. this is the first stop on the tour. this is a shop — a legal dispensary — selling cannabis, and it's probably the first chance the mps and the rest of the group have had of seeing how things are done over here. the first thing that surprised me is how clean and well—kept it is. they are very highly regulated, i've just been talking to them. and i wasn't expecting this... ..one of the mps in the group wants to try some. which do you tend to use? i've done this one.
the difference between what norman is buying here and the cbd oils you can buy in shops in the uk... well, this oil contains thc — the substance that gets you high. as someone who was central to the liberal democrats becoming the first party to back legalisation, he wants to know how it will affect him. thank you very much. so, norman, talk us through what you purchased. so, erm... this is a small amount of thc, balanced with cbd. and... ..having never used this before — knowingly — i mentioned there was possibly one accidental occasion. i want to be very careful. i'm very cautious. and i'm, sort of, quite hostile about drugs generally. i mean, that's where i come from as a parent. but i want this purely for sleeping, arm, for relaxation. so... ..i've been told to take half the normal dose to start with, which i will take 45 minutes before going to bed tonight and for the flight home. but i can't take this back home because it's illegal in england.
the trip‘s been organised by a london—based campaign group, voltefa ce. it wants the uk to legalise weed. it's part funded by a big cannabis company here in north america called mpx. they've paid for most of the people to be here. but, like us, david and norman have funded themselves. which is your most popular? this would be...probably our biker kush right now. right. and looking at the sort of thc levels in all of this, that's the strongest? yes. low cbd? yes. and that's what people are after? yes. they like to get a bunch, you know, yes. that's what they're after when they come in, right. they like that 5—star, so they want to get the highest they can get. interesting. after seeing a couple of shops selling weed, the final stop for the mps is a big commercial cannabis growing operation, a couple of hours‘
drive out of toronto. first up — a change of clothes. i've got no hair. do i still need this on my head? after the rigmarole of getting changed, passing through some really strict security... ..the first thing that hits you is the smell. you can see that they're all bar—coded. and then, just the size of the operation. what's the value of this? this one here? it's also really loud in here because of all the ventilation fans. but what they told us is the weed in this room alone could be worth up to $300,000 canadian. that's over £180,000. and they can do five crops a year, making each room like this worth close to £1 million a year. what do you make of it? i think you could go to prison for a very long time in britain if you've got anything like this in your loft. so it's, erm... ..a slightly strange feeling. you look at the plant, you know it's marijuana
and, obviously, everything in your head is saying, "this is wrong. get me out of here, i'm going to get arrested." you know? yeah. there does not appear to be the same level of debate about psychosis as there is in the uk, and i haven't fully understood why that is. i mean, they do say to us that if it's grown in very safe conditions, you have no impurities, it's a safer product. and, of course, the labelling makes you exactly aware of what you are buying — which you're not aware of on the street. yeah. and that's, i think, a real benefit from legalisation. i'm really worried at the... ..amount of seriously hard, potent skunk... exactly. ..that young people are consuming. and some of them, it's leading to mental health
issues and psychosis. so, here, you see proper labelling, erm, you're usually able to talk to someone who is quite informed about thc levels and cbd levels. i would, if we introduced a regulated market in the uk, have a cap on potency. i think you should start there. i think it reassures the public, people know that what they're buying is safe. before we head back to toronto, i want to speak to scott — the boss of mpx, which owns the facility — to find out why a north american company would invest so much money trying to persuade british mps to do the same back home. do you want to see change in the uk, and is it right that you're interfering in the uk's laws? we've been happy to be a host to them, to give them some exposure to the business, give them some understanding of what's happening here in north america. if that helps make the right decisions in the united kingdom, it's money well spent for us. and, potentially, money wellspent for your shareholders who might make a lot of money?
and if we can get a... look, the guy that makes an mri machine makes money, the doctor that performs surgery makes money. to say we don't have a profit motive would be lying — of course we do. we're in business to make money, but we're also in business to help the industry grow and to protect people. you want to see legalisation in the uk. yes. what one lesson could the uk take from how canada's done it? the one lesson they can do is look at the mistakes that the canadian government made, and not repeat them. the approach, initially, was too conservative. we overkilled in terms of regulation. now that's backing off a little bit, the government realises it's made some mistakes. the industry will correct itself. the industry has always been there. it's just, who knows what you've been getting when you buy cannabis on the street. quite nervous. yeah? that's because he's about to take the cannabis oil he bought earlier. so, i'm just interested to try it. itjust seemed, you know, ridiculous if i'm here... yeah. ..i might as well do something that's within the law that might help me sleeping.
right. even though i won't be able to use it back at home. yeah. so, now i'm supposed to put it under my tongue. norman. all right? hello. so, first question's got to be... ..did you sleep better last night? quite hard tojudge, because i've been falling asleep very quickly here anyway, because these are long days we're doing. erm.. and i did yesterday, i mean, i felt very sleepy and got straight to sleep, and felt that i'd slept deeply. but, you know, if anything — underwhelmed. no great, dramatic impact. certainly no strange sensations, which is what i was, sort of — rather naively — fearful of. but, er, there was nothing in my experience last night that has changed my view.
well, we said goodbye to the british mps, and we're now heading to meet a canadian mp, who is actually really central to the story of how canada legalised cannabis. his name is bill blair, he's a former police chief from this town. and he was tasked byjustin trudeau, the prime minister, with getting behind the system, getting behind the law, and getting behind the big change that happened here. hi there, nice to meet you. nice to meet you, as well. thanks for giving us a few minutes of your time. happy to. are you happy with how the legalisation process has gone? i will tell you i've been very pleased. at times, quite pleasantly surprised at how smooth the implementation has been. and if you were to give this a school grade, for example, how successful on a sort of a, b, c, unclassified? statistics canada now says about 47% of the cannabis being purchased in this country has been purchased from legal, regulated, licensed sources. that's a real sign of real progress. and so... ..erm, we've not done the job.
this is an interim grade. but, quite frankly, right now, i feel that we're on track. i'd, sort of, give it a b, perhaps even a b+. we are still in the midst of the process of displacing that illicit market. right. it's important to look at this as a process, it's a pretty significant public policy change in our country. the process of implementation began last year. but i will also tell you, on october 17th of 2018, we didn't throw a switch, except on one thing. on that day, we stopped criminalising another generation of young canadians, and i think that's a very good thing. speaking to the likes of him, you could be left with the idea that legalisation has gone without a hitch. but let's be honest, that's way too simplistic. before heading home, i've come back to vancouver. the weed market here is much more developed than everywhere else we've seen. so far, we've spent a lot of time being shown the side of canada's big drug experiment that both the government and the legal cannabis industry wants us to see. but that's not the whole picture. around half the weed sold here is still from illegal sources.
and what's sold in legal stores is widely criticised for its quality and price. so, do you want to give the guy who owns it a quick call, see if he's around? yeah. to talk us through this — charlotte, a brit who works as a consultant in the cannabis industry. she's offered to introduce us to the owner of an unlicensed shop. over here, they call this the grey area, unlicensed cannabis being sold in shops that certainly don't hide what they're selling. back home, wejust call this illegal. many like this one have operated for years. but on the way today, we caught wind that the authorities are actively clamping down on these retailers... ..so we're not even sure if it's going to be open. it'sjim from the bbc, how are you doing? how's things? yeah, yeah. come on in. it seems quite chaotic down here today? well, yeah. the government has a court order to have us shutdown. the reason why is, er, they feel that we're outside the law.
tell me, what's going on here today? i've watched you turn away three or four people who have come in expecting... this guy. ithink... no? it's all right. he wants to come in but you can't... we can't... well, he can come in, but we don't have any product here. we pulled it all off the shelves. they're threatening us with two years in prison. you know, again, the prices in the government stores are double. taxes are huge on this. massive. charlotte ? yep. being in here as he's turning people away, sending them away, regular customers getting sent away because this place is being closed down... yeah. it all feels really chaotic. yeah. it's hard then to say the uk should follow this, because this is chaos, isn't it? absolutely. well, it's obviously slightly different in the uk because we don't have so many established dispensaries operating already, but, clearly, what this shows is that the government probably isn't the best person to be operating retail stores. and that you shouldn't be closing down stores when there isn't enough legal supply to service the market.
you shouldn't be closing down industries when there's not enough legal stores in vancouver. and, also, we should be making sure that government regulations, government taxes aren't so high that it makes the entire system unworkable. hey, carol? yeah? several people have been trying to walk... they walked right past here and... thank you. 0k. right. and with that chaotic end, it's time to leave canada. the mps have had a bit of time to digest what they saw, so i'm heading back to westminster to see what they made of it. do you think cannabis should be legalised like it is in canada? from what i've learnt so far, i'm not convinced that we have the research or the knowledge about how to... ..replace the criminality that currently goes with it. and i think we've got a lot to learn before we move towards legalisation of recreational cannabis, which i think will happen at some point, given that we have already legalised medical cannabis. the logic makes absolute sense that to regulate and control is so much better than to leave in the hands of criminals.
david — on the trip, i always got the sense that you were moving more towards norman's position. have you moved to norman's position? where do you stand now on the legalisation of cannabis? i think i probably broadly agree with norman. i mean, i was... so, to legalise? yes. i mean, i was always of the view that it is insane to be criminalising as many young people as we are. prohibition isn't working. so, what i saw in canada... it was the early stages of their experiment, but it's absolutely the direction we should be going in. once you're saying it's ok for medicinal use, you are on a pipeline — that's absolutely patently obvious. let's do it properly, considered, but let's have a proper cross—party commission look at the evidence, look at the facts, and do it in a way that works for our country. with products like this on sale
in here, you might think that we're back in canada. but we're actually a short walk away from parliament. the big difference here is, this shop can't sell cannabis. but is that about to change? well... ..if so — there are a lot of questions to get through. for example, how do you police drug driving? why is so much of the cannabis available in canada so strong, especially with those links that we keep talking about to mental health issues? and will big business continue to take over? or is there room in the market for some of those original players in the scene that we met? and, ultimately, remember... ..canada came from very different starting position. they already had a grey area in the law for the drug. and, culturally, it'sjust much more part of everyday life. i keep calling this the world's biggest drugs experiment...
..the reality is, the final results are a long way off. hello. there are more heavy downpours in the forecast, not only for the day ahead but actually for the next few days. not good news for those parts of the uk already so badly affected by flooding. you can see on the satellite picture this area of cloud rotating. this is an area of low pressure. ahead of it stripes of cloud bringing showery rain. here's one for sunday morning for scotland. still fringing into the eastern side of northern ireland for a time, down into wales and the south—west. and we take that band of cloud and moisture, some showery rain, and we push it eastwards as the day wears on.
and as that moisture works into northern england and scotland it will kick off some hit and miss heavy downpours and thunderstorms. could be the odd sharp shower for wales and the south—west, particularly over high ground. many spots here will be dry. east anglia and the south—east staying predominantly dry through the day. and although it will be fairly cloudy, temperatures will get up to 25 or 26 with a few glimmers of brightness. but for northern england, southern and central scotland, there is a met office yellow warning that's been issued. it covers the potential for some of those hit and miss thunderstorms which could dump 30—110 millimetres of rain in some places in the space ofjust a couple of hours. that could cause further travel disruption. maybe some localised flash flooding. but as is the nature with showers, some places will fall between them and stay completely dry. then through sunday night into monday another band of showery rain edges into western scotland, north—west england, wales, and the south—west. you can see these showers just keep on coming, rotating around that area of low pressure. which, as we go into monday morning, will be sitting just about here, just to the north—west of the british isles. those various frontal systems rotating around it, taking showery rain across the country.
so we start off monday with a band of cloud and some pretty heavy downpours edging eastwards. now, much of that weather will clear away to the east through the day. so we'll be left with some dry conditions, some spells of sunshine. but those sunny conditions could spawn one or two further downpours and thunderstorms, it's likely to stay quite wet across northern scotland. a breezy day on monday, a fresher day as well. we keep that fresher feel on tuesday and again there will be some showers and thunderstorms, particularly across the northern half of the uk, northern england, northern ireland, scotland. some of these could be pretty slow—moving. so some places could see a lot of rain, not as many showers further the south. highs of 18—22 degrees. the north of the uk bears the brunt of the showers through the middle of the week. signs that it might dry up a little bit by thursday and friday. a similar story further south, not as many showers, but there will be some. top temperatures of around 2a degrees.
good morning, welcome to breakfast with christian fraser and nina warhurst. our headlines today: 20 people are killed and two dozen injured in a mass shooting at a shopping mall in the us city of el paso. ona day on a day that would have been a normal day for someone to leisurely go shopping, turned into one of the most deadly days in the history of texas. more homes are evacuated near a dam that's in danger of collapsing as forecasters warn there's heavy rain to come. talks to avert a strike at heathrow are to resume today,