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Mail Online Anger at 'biased C4 show that trivialises effects of cannabis'

- Jennie Bond inhaled cannabis for experiment on Channel 4 documentary
- Former BBC royal correspondent said it 'reminded her of her student life'
- Mother of one, 64, said she didn't like experience but 'didn't hate it' either
- Broadcaster Jon Snow and former MP Matthew Parris also involved in trial
- Channel 4's Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial is to be aired tomorrow evening

Inhaling deeply, the BBC’s ex-royal correspondent tries cannabis as part of a TV experiment examining the effects of types of the drug on the brain.

In another scene Jennie Bond, 64, is seen giggling and talking about how much she loves eating grapes after experimenting with hash.

A trailer for tonight’s programme asks: ‘Has Jennie got the munchies?’

Yesterday critics and experts accused Channel 4 of turning Drugs Live: Cannabis On Trial into little more than a stunt designed to boost ratings and glamorise the Class B drug.

The programme sees 22 volunteers including Miss Bond, presenter Jon Snow and former Tory MP Matthew Parris take two sorts of cannabis – hash and high-strength skunk – plus a placebo

Each has tests including a brain scan, while changes to their mood, memories and emotions are monitored.

Professor David Nutt, 63, who was sacked as the Government’s drugs tsar in 2009 for saying cannabis is less harmful than alcohol and nicotine, will appear as an expert, with University College London professor Val Curran.

Professor Nutt’s charity DrugScience contributed funding towards the Channel 4 trial.

Mary Brett, chairman of campaign group Cannabis Skunk Sense, said: ‘Skunk is a dreadful drug and it is very irresponsible to have a show with such biased experts. It will be a platform for Professor Nutt to peddle what he thinks about drugs to an audience of young people.’

Julia Manning, chief executive of independent think-tank 2020 Health, said: ‘What I don’t think we should be doing is encouraging experimentation with substances when there is no doubt these substances have significant side-effects. This is not about science, it’s about viewing figures. The legislation we have seems to be deterring drug taking so why do we need to open the Pandora’s box and encourage more experimentation?

‘It’s glamorising and trivialising the issue.’

Snow, 67, who was given a brain scan after trying the drug, said: ‘I’ve worked in war zones, but I’ve never been as overwhelmingly frightened as I was when I was in the MRI scanner after taking skunk. I would never do it again.’

But critics were concerned the programme would not show the long-term impact of cannabis use.

Fay Watson, secretary general of Europe Against Drugs, said: ‘Placing someone into a MRI scanner when they are under the influence may be useful to assess the immediate impacts of cannabis, but it’s not going to demonstrate the long-term harms people are most concerned about.

‘Cannabis use is associated with a wide range of negative side-effects such as anxiety, psychotic episodes, depression, cancer, stroke, as well as IQ decline in young people.’

Cannabis, the most widely used illegal drug in Britain, has been linked to long-term mental health problems including schizophrenia, and is known to cause anxiety and paranoia. Users also find it difficult to concentrate

Skunk is a potent form of cannabis that now dominates 80 per cent of the British market. Some believe it is far more addictive than other forms of cannabis and can provoke paranoid episodes, psychotic symptoms and memory loss.

Channel 4 said Professor Nutt, a Professor of Neuropsychopharmacology at Imperial College London, and Professor Curran ‘are two of the world’s leading experts on the effects of illegal drugs on the brain’.

A spokesman said the pair had ‘collaborated on this ethically approved six-month cannabis trial at UCL.

‘[They] will describe the chemicals in cannabis that are responsible for the effects seen in the brain. They will explain how they differ between the two forms of the drug, as well as looking at the risks and the potentially positive effects of cannabis.