Resolution Statement: Complaint 01210-14 Reynolds v

Decision: Resolved - IPSO mediation

Resolution Statement: Complaint 01210-14 Reynolds v

Summary of complaint

1. Peter Reynolds, on behalf of CLEAR, complained to the Independent Press Standards Organisation that had published an article, headlined “Cannabis ‘is as addictive as heroin’ and connected to mental illnesses”, on 7 October 2014, which raised a breach of Clause 1 (Accuracy) of the Editors’ Code of Practice. 

2. The complainant expressed concern that the newspaper had wrongly stated that a study had revealed that cannabis was as addictive as heroin or alcohol. He said there was no evidence to support this claim and the study, which the article had referred to, had not made this claim either. 

3. The newspaper said the article’s headline had summarised the content of the article, as was standard practice. The article made clear that the study had revealed that one in six teenagers who smoked cannabis regularly became dependent on it. The study’s author had compared cannabis to heroin and alcohol, known addictive substances, to demonstrate his position that cannabis can be addictive too. 

Relevant Code Provisions

4. Clause 1 (Accuracy) 

i) The Press must take care not to publish inaccurate, misleading or distorted information, including pictures. 

ii) A significant inaccuracy, misleading statement or distortion once recognised must be corrected, promptly and with due prominence, and - where appropriate - an apology published. 

Mediated outcome

5. The complaint was not resolved through direct correspondence between the parties. IPSO therefore instigated an investigation into the matter. 

6. The newspaper offered to amend the headline to read “One in six teenagers who regularly smoke cannabis become addicted, new study finds”, and to append the following footnote: 

“An earlier version of this article carried the headline “Cannabis is ‘as addictive as heroin’ and connected to mental illness”. We have been asked to make clear this headline was based on Professor Hall’s statement ‘If cannabis is not addictive, then neither is heroin or alcohol’. We are happy to clarify that Professor Hall’s study did not find that cannabis is as addictive as heroin.” 

7. The complainant confirmed that the suggested amendments to the online article would resolve the matter to his satisfaction. 

8. As the complaint was successfully mediated, the Complaints Committee did not make a determination as to whether there had been any breach of the Code. 

Date complaint received: 07/10/2014 

Date complaint concluded by IPSO: 05/12/2014

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