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...)