“have you seen The Wire?”

Bobballs’ first blog round-up for the Belfast Telegraph included a suitably sceptical post by Keith Belfast in the face of apparent local political unanimity in support of the banning of mephedrone – despite actual evidence of harm from the drug’s use being largely absent and amid concerns about political interference in the work of the advisory council on the misuse of drugs. At his Guardian blog Roy Greenslade picks up on a column by Simon Jenkins in the same paper and Johann Hari at the Independent. As Roy Greenslade points out

They are writing sense when all about them are writing and doing the opposite. The media’s coverage of mephedrone has been disproportionate to its dangers to society. Nothing new in that, however. Some four years ago I wrote an article for Druglink magazine in which I pointed out that the media’s handling of drug issues does more harm than good. I take on board the editorial agenda, especially at popular papers, in which drugs of all kinds (except alcohol) are viewed as “evil” and those that deal in them or use them are deviants who must be punished.

But there is a denial of reality in much of the hysterical media coverage of drugs (and that denial is often hypocritical too, given that many journalists have more than an editorial knowledge of drug-taking). It leads to hyped and inaccurate reporting. It pressures government into knee-jerk political responses. And not only does it not stop drug use, it often tends to increase it.