ITV’s latest show Gone To Pot signals the UK is ready to reconsider cannabis policy options

by Pierre-Yves Galléty

Tonight ITV will broadcast the first episode of its latest show Gone To Pot. During this three-part series, well-known British celebrities travel across the United States on board a magical mystery bus to explore the now legal medical and recreational cannabis market.

The team of explorers is comprised of Birds of a Feather actress and Loose Women panelist Linda Robson, ex-EastEnders actress Pam St Clement, actor Christopher Biggins, retired footballer and TV presenter John Fashanu and darts supremo Bobby George.

I’ve had the chance to preview the first episode of Gone To Pot, and it is a success. Not only is it entertaining thanks to our “ageing national treasures” enjoying the experience with enthusiasm, but it is also very educative and gives an unbiased, factual approach to cannabis consumption and policy in the United States.

During their trip, they explore the different sides of the cannabis industry, from Harborside dispensary in Oakland to a convent where nuns grow cannabis. The group even dined with a 94 year-old Italian chef specialised in cooking with cannabis, and that’s only the first episode!

The show takes the celebrities along on a fairly familiar route. I find myself feeling very nostalgic whist watching it having been to many of the places they visit. I think it is really worth mentioning the dispensary they visited. Harborside health centre in Oakland is just across the bay bridge from San Francisco. It is a large dispensary and caters for thousands of patients in its local area. They have a huge range of cannabis from flowers, to concentrates, edibles, clones, topical creams and about any other way you could conceive of taking cannabis.

Chris, the group’s bus driver: what do you expect from this experience?

Christopher Biggins: knowledge.

But they aren’t on this trip solely for fun. Each member of the group has a personal medical reason to look into cannabis. Acting, playing football, and throwing darts are physical activities that can leave veterans with strong pain in their articulations and muscles. As more and more patients are turning to cannabis to alleviate their pain caused by various illnesses, these five curious British decided to explore how Americans have regulated cannabis, meeting some truly extraordinary characters, and maybe even try some cannabis along the way!

Despite their enthusiasm to cross the Atlantic to learn more about cannabis, the members of the group have nonetheless divergent opinions on the drug, and this show aims to highlight these views as well.

San Fransisco is one of many stops of the group during their trip. Source: Flickr.

I am glad to see the majority of the celebrities were interested in finding out the kind of cannabis which might help their specific needs. This is something patients in legal regulated markets take for granted, and that we are crying out for it in the UK!

Different strains of cannabis have different effects and tailoring the strain to the illness or symptom unlocks a huge amount of therapeutic effect that patients in the UK simply miss out on. I feel that this is one of the most important reasons we must continue to fight for a regulated market in the UK and I’m pleased to see the celebrities learn it’s not all about smoking a joint (although there is plenty of that too).

Gone To Pot is a successful investigation of what cannabis currently represents and could do for the British people (both for those who need it as a medicine and those who would like to enjoy it recreationally) through the eyes of our ageing yet still zealous explorers.

The fact that ITV decide to broadcast such programme on prime time shows that the United Kingdom is ready for a new debate on cannabis policy and more importantly, is ready to consider new policy options.

Cannabis law is changing around the world with more and more countries legalising cannabis for medical and recreational purposes. Actions from campaigners and advocates are of course crucial in advancing the debate but it can only become a nation wide stake with moves from major networks such as ITV, that promote the debate via Gone To Put with both an entertaining and educative approach.

I’m looking forward to watching the next episode.

You can watch the first episode of Gone to Pot on ITV tonight at 9pm.

Clark French is the Director of the United Patients Alliance. Tweets @Clarkfrenchuk

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