Gone To Pot seems to be a hit. Whilst The Guardian dubbed it ‘this year’s funniest TV’, the Sun reports that viewers were left in hysterics watching the show. Judging by the reactions on Twitter, The Sun’s reporting is an understatement. However we were also interested in hearing what patients using medical cannabis had to say.
I interviewed Chris Reilly, who suffers from Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis, and Sarah Martin, suffering from Relapsing Remitting Multiple Sclerosis. Both are using Sativex to relieve the pain associated with their illness.
When I asked him what he thought about the show, Chris’ initial reaction was quite positive:
I thought it was positive on the whole. As a medical cannabis patient and activist, I am quite well versed on all things about medical cannabis. I think it’s really good that they showed what a dispensary looks like. This is what real life looks like in America. In the show, Pat Butcher makes a parallel with a normal supermarket. It’s a good message, it promotes cannabis in a good way for the targeted audience. In my opinion there was not enough information but I wasn’t the target they wanted. They wanted to entertain and that worked.
However his tone changed rapidly when he criticised the show from his own experience:
But the problem is that it doesn’t represent the medical cannabis community I know, and it doesn’t really explore medical cannabis. It’s good to see them getting stoned. It proves that even getting stoned is not dangerous. They obviously had too much [referring to Chris Biggins and Bobby George feeling sick after having a lunch filled with cannabis edibles] but they were able to try.
Sarah had only good things to say:
I’m pleased to see elderly people of a certain age looking at medical cannabis as a solution, when pain associated with arthritis and menopause is playing up. That age group is very concerned by medical cannabis. I’m also pleased to see a balanced programme with people against cannabis, like John Fashanu. His attitude was changing, he was curious and not terrified and that’s good. It’s a good programme, I liked it. They showed how clean cannabis can be treated: dispensary are not full of people traditionally known as ‘stoners’. It’s clean, organised. The programme shows that really well.
Chris emphasised the fact that he didn’t relate to the group’s experience in the show:
I didn’t get the chance to get to a pharmacy and get a prescription like they do. I had no help, no support. I criminalised myself on a daily basis before being able to access legal medical cannabis.
Interestingly, they both commented on the parallel between alcohol and cannabis mentioned on the show:
Chris: The parallel with alcohol hangover was good because it helps understand that cannabis is not just one product. Wine has different grapes, cannabis has different grapes. Not all wine is the same, not all cannabis is the same.
Sarah: It’s like alcohol, if you use too much of it you will become ill, which happened to two people on the show.
Do you think Gone To Pot will help advance the debate on the reform of cannabis?
Chris: If it allows people to maybe see the diff between prohibition and real life and the stigmas attached to that then’s it’s brilliant. Although I don’t think there’ll be much impact from last night. If it changes one person’s mind then great. It’s not gonna change the opinion of the ney sayers but might change the opinion of the undecided. That was a good programme but that was only one episode. Seeing Pat Butcher cuffed in the back of a police car during the preview of the next episode is not a good message, not the right message.
Sarah: I’m curious how the people that don’t use cannabis view the programme, if it’s changed their opinion. It’s a waiting game: get as much media as we can until we change everybody’s mind. Everybody counts. Personally I can’t believe we’re still arguing for legalisation.
Are you going to watch the second episode?
Chris: I’m worried about the next episode because they showed someone sitting in the back of the police cars, and it might have a negative impact on people psyche. I don’t think it’s a balanced argument because cannabis is still a schedule 1 drug under federal law, but people are consuming it everyday in the States that made it legal. But if I had to rate it I’d give it a 7, because I laughed. Would I recommend somebody watch that? 100%.
Sarah: Yes I look forward to the next episode.
Pierre-Yves Galléty is a Communications Officer at Volteface. Tweets @PYGallety