Can I get high legally? Bizarre BBC3 documentary

By sgurrman · Jul 3, 2009 · Updated Jul 4, 2009 · ·
  1. sgurrman
    Last night there was a programme on BBC3 purporting to investigate legal highs. It was fronted by George 'I-used-to-be-in-the-music-business-so-I-know-about-drugs' Lamb. We saw him go to Camden Lock to buy some legal highs, try to meet internet wholesalers, get together with some users of legal highs, visit Guernsey (where legal highs were all the rage, but now have apparently been banned - hey, how can you ban all legal highs?), have a chat on Skype with the legal high dude from New Zealand(sorry, can't remember his name), and take a hit of salvia from a big, smart-looking bong.

    The message the programme was trying to make was clear: there's loads of stuff out there, easy to get hold of, some of it we don't even know what it contains, and nobody knows the long-term effects. Clearly a programme to engender panic in Middle Britain - 'your kids are out there possibly having a good time, and are in grave danger' -, one of the UK media's favourite activities. It's also the sort of thing governments like to hear: we've messed up the economy, nobody believes a word we say, but let's show what jolly good chaps we really are by banning these legal highs.

    I think some good points have already been made in this thread that are relevant to the programme. It did not, of course, ask the question as to why the market for these products has developed in the first place, the answer being that people of nearly all times and cultures have searched out mind-alteration; and it is a situation provoked by current mad drug laws. The objection that many of these legal highs have not been researched as to their long-term effects (as if this data, if available, would lead to a more rational state of affairs) is invalidated by the fact that there are in existence LSD, psilocybin, MDMA etc, which HAVE been pretty thoroughly researched, and shown to be less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, yet find themselves in the list of Class A substances. The programme unwittingly highlighted its bias towards the consumerist, alcohol-based culture by screening at least one interview in a pub, surrounded by people happily guzzling that highly dangerous and potentially addictive legal high, alcohol. Which is all jolly good fun, it would seem.

    The format of the programme was reminiscent of one a couple of years ago on the cocaine trade, presented by a guy who used to be bass guitarist in Blur, I think (sorry, my memory's crap, and those 90's bands never held much interest for me). The ploy is clearly to get someone from that cool music industry to do it, to give the programme some sort of credibility, rather than some Tory politician or academic boffin. That particular programme included Blurman sucking up to Alvaro Uribe, generalissimo of the most-recently annexed state of the U.S.A., aka Colombia. Again completely missing the point that, if it wasn't for current drugs laws, Colombia wouldn't be so riddled with cocaine-related crime.

    I'm pleased with myself, having managed to put several pretty rational pargraphs together. But basically the legal highs programme was a bunch of shit, a nasty bit of propaganda on behalf of the mainstream. Unfortunately, there still exist people around the world who look at the BBC with respect, but I should like to inform them that the BBC is as biased and selective as most other mass media organisations. It's OK for animal documentaries and the weather forecast, but for more serious stuff I'd stick with Chillin'will on Drugs Forum (I'm not joking there...):eek:

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  1. baron samedi
    Re: Are Spice Silver, Gold, Diamond & Spirit banned in the UK?

    Trouble is, there is more and more publicity about "legal highs" in the UK, which isn't doing the scene any good. There was a program on TV last night, doing a (pretty negative) expose of the whole thing.
  2. Alfa
    Re: Are Spice Silver, Gold, Diamond & Spirit banned in the UK?

    please add the program to the video archive.
  3. baron samedi
    Re: Are Spice Silver, Gold, Diamond & Spirit banned in the UK?

    How does SWIM do this SWIAlfa? Never done it before.
  4. Alfa
  5. Synchronium
    Re: Are Spice Silver, Gold, Diamond & Spirit banned in the UK?

    I intend to write a large post about why that was a terrible program pretty soon. I'll also include the video.
  6. hatstands
    Re: Government 'to ban legal highs'

    Nice post,
    Aye, this was just a bit of fluff made by BBC3, I'm sure someone from the production company posted on this forum in the mephedone section a while ago asking for people to talk to them about it.

    DOes anyone know where that footage came from Lamb showed the "psychonaut", of those people who were using homemade chemicals to get high? It seemed unfair to juxtapose this clearly old footage to infer that mephedrone and/or similar substances had caused these effects. But SWIM is curious as to what happened to these poor folks.
  7. Synchronium
    Re: Government 'to ban legal highs'

    The only synthetic "drug" I know about that causes rapid-onset Parkinsonian symptoms is MPTP, a by-product of MPPP production should the chemist not pay attention to heat or pH. MPTP is broken down by MAOs into MPP+ which selectively kills dopamine neurones, hence the symptoms.

    MPPP is a synthetic opiate, so presumably they would have injected it.

    If anyone knows otherwise, please fill us in.
  8. baron samedi
    SWIM's cheating a bit here by adding his post about this program from another thread, but felt it would be more suitable in this thread.
    Agree with pretty much everything else said in this thread. The footage of people displaying Parkinsons symptoms was disturbing, not least because there was no real explanation as to what these people had taken.
    Very disappointing bit of work from the BBC's point of view particularly as it never attempted (in the 20 mins that SWIM saw) to explain why the legal highs market has exploded over the past few years i.e. PROHIBITION!
  9. candy_flipping
    Swim thought that 'documentary' was a load of crap tbh. It showed some chavvy teenagers getting 'monged off spice'- swim learnt some new words tho :p. Did anyone else find it hilarious how he had doctor there while he was doing salvia; George lamb really annoyed swim. Albeit it did reinforce in swims mind to keep away from the newer drugs: as can be seen with mephrodone.

    Swim is pretty sure that footage they showed of parkonism was due to MPTP- if swim can remember is actually a herbicide called cyperquat as well.
  10. baron samedi
    What did it say which scared SWIY about mephedrone? He did not see it all at the time.
  11. candy_flipping
    nothing much tbh just the fact we have 20 years of knowledge about the effects of MDMA and LSD, but we don't even know the pharmacology of these new drugs or what are the active compounds in these drugs. Swim is actually only doing methylone out of the legals highs at the moment.
  12. starboy

    My name is Matt Bowden, the crew interviewed me via Skype from New Zealand one day for this thing, they seemed like they understood what substance use was all about and conceded that prohibition is an inferior policy model to regulated supply but perhaps wanted to paint a conservative air over it all for poilitical reasons or whatever.

    Did anybody manage to get the thing online so I can see what they used from our chat and what they didn't?

    I found it tricky as an interview they seemed like they had made up their mind already by the time they got to talking to New Zealand and wanted to make everything fit with their story by the time they got to me. I think you have some really conservative old people up there in the UK with real out of date values and it might help if you had a few more folks trained up in media ready to step up and make informed comment to balance it out a bit.

    That's my view from down here anyway.
  13. Synesthesiac
  14. sgurrman
    Thanks for your post Starboy. I think you did your best on the programme, especially, if I recall, with your arguments about how some of the 'legal highs' might not be 100% harm-free (what is?), but they are a damn sight safer than lots of other stuff people might be doing. Your points could not really be disagreed with; this being the case, the presenter said 'Hmmm', then moved on to some other scene!

    Your comment about the media is interesting. It is probably true that there are loads of extremely conservative people (with strong vested interests in the status quo, I may add) in the media in the UK. The media has a lot to answer for: it is the main former of public opinion, and has been the major panic-developer ever since the days it decided that everyone who took LSD jumped out of windows or ended up in the local psychiatric unit. Unfortunately, UK is a very OLD country, where traditions and establishments are deeply ingrained. Attitudes change slowly. There is an advantage in a 'newer' country like New Zealand, I think - greater flexibility and possibilities for more rapid change.;)
  15. b3ni
  16. port 21
    That REALLY annoyed me. The generalisations he made infuriated me. "just because they are legal, we assume they are safe". NO WE DONT. YOU DO.

    Swim is thinking thank f*ck for forums such as this where people can express unbiased opinions and share experiences to allow a swimmer to make an informed decision. Swim feels this applies to illicit substances also, and agreed with the doctors view that it may be advisable to steer clear of legals in favour of illegals, as they have been more thoroughly tested, for lack of a better word.
    Swim feels that generally, most people (non users) absorb information from the media far better than from actual users. I think a balance needs to be reached, but it never will.
    Its sad that people such as George seem to ignore opinions and explanations, and is set in his ways.
    I do admire the fact that he toked some salvia, but to be honest, its not really what he's researching, the documentary begins with a gig, has various rave footage throughout, and ends at a gig. Who's tokin salvia at Random Concept, Download or Clubs? Very few...
    Im also disapointed he was prepared to give the 3 guys samples of pills before analyzing the contents.

    Also, this was filmed in 09, and i swear BZP has been illegal for quite a while?

    I pretty much zoned out at the beginning when he said:
    "i was in the music industry"
    "how much do we know about these so called, legal highs"

    This mockery of a doc really annoyed me! Gr.
  17. bushman
    I used to think G. Lamb was a decent bloke with his own opinions but, after watching this, I feel that he was used as a tool for propaganda. I also feel it was a waste of time interviewing Starboy when the programme had already taken a "drugs are bad" point of view, it seemed like his main aim was to extract every negative aspect of legal highs.

    The fact that he smoked salvia as his only "legal high" was astonishing too. There is no way the effects of salvia can be called a "high", nor is salvia (correct me if I'm wrong) used for recreation or as a party drug. Should have done a bit more research, man!
  18. MrG
    Well written post by the OP there and spot on. I too watched the documentary and was not surprised by its biase.

    Matt, your point about how the introduction of BZP based party pills had created a reduction in local Methamphetamine use was, again unsurprisingly, largely ignored. They did, after all, simply want to do a cheap documentary where they can mug people up for supplying "the kids" with drugs their parents know nothing about. The constant reference to these substances as being as easily available as sweets was not accidental.

    But then again the BBC just wanted to target the kind of people for whom the word "euphoria" is frightening.

    P.s. with regards to the footage of the Parkinsons sufferers, I know that it was as a result of ingesting something that they had made which had been synthed incorrectly. I can't for the life of me remember exactly what but I do know that it apparently toasted their Dopaminergic system leaving them in that state.
  19. Synesthesiac
    Exactly, if he had done some methylone for exmaple he would have been loving it, stimulated, euphoric, hyper and probably laughing his ass of with a huge smile on his face for hours. But then that would show the public why people generally use drugs; to have a good time! But oh no, not in the media, where all drugs (bar pharmaceuticals) are inherently 'EVIL'. But instead he decided to do a herbal psychedelic as if this represents the enitre 'legal highs' industry. Pathetic, and very misleading. (he didn't even get a proper hit anyway if it only lasted 2 minutes!)
  20. baron samedi
    SWIM thought that 1 sickening tool used by Lamb was the reference to Salvia extract and his teenage sister. Can't remember what age he said she was. It's an age-old way of influencing peoples' opinions to infer that there is a danger towards children.
    Surely, 95% of head shop owners would not be stupid enough to sell to minors, and if she was 18 or over, isn't she old enough to make up her own mind?
    It was one argument used for the reclassification of cannabis from class C to B in the UK, the "fact" that new evidence had emerged that cannabis is harmful to the developing brain of teenagers and children are getting their hands on super strength "skunk". Even if the its true that teenagers shouldn't smoke dope, why not legalize the industry then impose an age restriction of 21 say, like alcohol in the USA.
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