Debra Bell’s Last Stand: Talking About Cannabis Play Last Hand

It’s two years to the day that the void first published the seminal ‘Talking (bollocks) About Cannabis’, highlighting the lies, half truths and shameless propanganda that lay behind Debra Bell’s anti-cannabis crusaders Talking About Cannabis.

It’s been all down hill for poor old Debs ever since. First went the blog, then following a rapping from the Charity Commission the supporting organisations such as Addaction seemed to scarper faster then a greyhound on charlie.

Finally a much publicised split with school teacher Mary Brett led to the ultimate demise of Talking About Cannabis as an organisation. Mary Brett and the dribblers from the National Drug Prevention Alliance reconstituted the group without Debs who once again found herself all on her tod with no-one to whinge at.

The final kick in the teeth must have been when proper writer Julie Myserson published an equally self-centered but far more eloquent account of her sons descent into cannabis hell. It sold quite well.

Since then Debra’s influence has been much diminshed and she has resorted to increasingly demented acts of self-publicity in an effort to keep her name in the papers.

Her new trick is that she’s convinced the, now reformed, errant son William Bell (aka Oliver Woodbridge) that he might be able to make a few quid cashing in on his minor celebrity status as a middle class fuck up.

Oliver’s hypocrisy in attempting to charge £50 (down from the original £100) for a phone call is the reason we decided to publish the now infamous facebook pic (still on his profile we are informed) of him with his mates who appear to be bigging up the ganja. Reformed indeed.

But our Debra, being tougher than a crocodile hide doused in tar, is fighting back. Her own book comes out next week called ‘The Cannabis Diaries – A Mother’s Struggle to Save Her Family’ and the Daily Mail have been printing extracts.

Such a shame that in Debra’s presumed moment of triumph she should finally be revealed as a vain, cold and desperately thick old bint. The blue-rinsed blue-bloods of the Mail have not been kind to poor old Debs. Here’s the top five highest rated comments today:

This woman shouldn’t be ‘helping’ other people via her website (which she keeps promoting) – she can’t even help her own family.

- Becca, Cornwall, 8/2/2010 2:40
Click to rate Rating 96

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His problem is his mother.

- Pippa, Notts, UK, 8/2/2010 9:09
Click to rate Rating 94

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addicted to a non addictive substance, strange?

- Mark, uk, 8/2/2010 8:31
Click to rate Rating 85

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What a stupid, idiotic embarrasment of a mother. I can’t believe that she’d actually publicise this awful behaviour toward her son. Canabis isn’t an addiction. People smoke it to cover up other problems in their life. This sounds like regular teenage angst (yes, we all stole, lied and had strops to some degree).

Why not just lay down the law, make curfews, sign him on a plumbing course in the first place, sit him down and TALK TO HIM!!! in the first place instead of traumatising the whole family, cutting ties and depriving a brother of his sibling, poisining everyone against him so that she could write a silly little book and get published and then bang on about it for ages.

What the hell is October 15 about??? This woman doesn’t deserve to be a mother. Some parents face their children binge drinking, getting pregnant, jailed or getting addicted to ACTUAL drugs. You know what they do? Help them. It’s called COMMUNICATION.
– Kat, Peterborough, 8/2/2010 8:50
Click to rate Rating 78

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Oh this poor woman – how on earth do you start a website, a charity and become a living saint with a son getting in the way. I know – chuck him out of the house and abandon him. This woman talks s if she has been living with a crack or heroin addict. Shame on her and her attitude. Millions of teenagers smoke some “weed” and grow out of it. I seriously hope this woman doesn’t come across the full horror of drug addiction. She doesn’t have enough family members to throw out of the house.

- anon, vila velha, brazil, 8/2/2010 2:07
Click to rate Rating 75

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She didn’t fare much better yesterday.

See no-one but us had ever read the Cannabis Diaries on her website. They were too fucking boring.

But now the general public gets to see what this venemous crow is really like and may wonder how her and her dwindling band of loons ever managed to influence Government policy.

the void recently featured in the new Cannabis Diaries (she really thinks she might get a sequel!). In November last year Debra wrote:

“Someone who runs a blog and calls himself ‘Johnny Void’ wrote to the publishers of the Cannabis Diaries last week, rubbishing the work I have been doing these past two years and suggesting they think again. Having read a little of this man’s blog in the past, I know he writes about ‘prohibitionists’ – and has referred to me with this term – yet here he is seeking the censorship of my Diaries. How curious. How afraid he must be of this book going out into the world. The publishers remain unperturbed. They did write back though, asking what his stake was in all of this. Good question. “

Like most things on their site this isn’t true.

We did write to the publishers:

“Dear Georgina

I am writing to you as I believe you to be the publisher of the upcoming Cannabis Diaries by Debra Woodbridge/Bell.

Having seen the recent update on the Talking About Cannabis (TAC) website it seems that you have requested the author to provide factual information about cannabis and possible health risks.

The information presented on TAC’s website is at best entirely misleading and at worst downright dishonest. It appears to be based on the research of Mary Brett who claims to be a biologist but is in fact a biology teacher. Brett’s claims are unscientific (1), not backed by any credible evidence and not shared by any reputable scientist on the subject, including those who have been most outspoken on the possible risks of cannabis.

It is also not inline with the current advice given to young people by the Government and in fact TAC advise on their website that the help-line Talk To Frank is ‘not highly recommended for cannabis advice to parents'(2).

This leads to further concerns that you have also suggested to Debra Bell that she provides ‘information about what to do, as a parent or carer, if you find that your child is using drugs’.

TAC’s Self Help and Support page does not list any of the drugs agencies such as Drugscope, Addaction or Turning Point who have qualified counsellors and experience in dealing with problem drug use. Almost all the the organisations listed (with the exception of SANE and Rethink, who are mental health as opposed to substance misuse organisation) are either private consultants with no qualifications or anti-drug pressure groups.

I find it deeply disturbing that vulnerable parents and young people may be steered away from professional, medically-trained, statutory health services into the arms of groups with a purely political, religious or sometimes financial agenda.

Whilst I understand that whilst primarily a medical publisher you frequently explore areas which may be regarded as left-field. However I would suggest that you would do your reputation little good if you intend to publish the wild speculation presented as fact on the Talking About Cannabis website.

It is widely acknowledged that lying to young people about drugs will not only have little impact of preventing them using them, but also faces the risk of making young people cynical about any information on public health which is presented to them. I sincerely hope that you do not intend to further muddy the cannabis debate in this way.

Finally I wish to note my distaste that a book detailing some of the most intimate moments of a vulnerable, young person (whose name, Oliver Woodbridge, is now in the public domian) will be further disseminated to the genral public. It must also be remembered that throughout the entire period from when the diaries were first published online to the present day Oliver Woodbridge has never been diagnosed as suffering from schizophrenia, psychosis or any other mental health condition, despite being taken to several specialists by his mother.

I await your comments with interest.


johnny void



They replied:

“I will of course take these points up with Debra, but i do wonder who you are and what your stake in all this is?

Perhaps you could tell me the background to your email?

Georgina Bentliff”

We wrote back saying: “I have real concerns, along with many other people, that drug policy is not being dictated by science but a moral crusade.

Sadly Talking About Cannabis are part of that and I urge you to look into any recognised authority on drugs and drugs misuse before publishing the ‘facts’ about cannabis listed on TAC’s website.”

Which they apparantly took seriously as the appendix has now been written by Dr Zerrin Atakan, Consultant Psychiatrist, Institute of Psychiatry.

Debra book can be slagged off on amazon here. For god’s sake don’t buy it, you’ll only encourage her. And it’s shit.

Finally she’s once more ventured into the world of blogging, with comments and everything, you can slag her off at:

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10 responses to “Debra Bell’s Last Stand: Talking About Cannabis Play Last Hand

  1. I am so happy that English people are as offended by Debra Bell as I am, and I’m a Yank (not by choice).
    You commented exactly in the vein that my thoughts are, Debra Bell is Not a good mother, nor should she be spreading this propaganda in the guise of help for struggling families. What she did in fact, to her son Will, was to exacerbate pre-existing conditions most likely involving depression. The other factor that is clouded by her fear of Cannabis is that he could not have been in the condition described by sole use of Cannabis. We are not being told the whole story. Exactly how much Ecstacy, Crystal Meth, and Alcohol was he consuming along with his Cannabis? Her statements make one wonder whether these drugs were the prevalent cause in his “Downward Spiral” and indeed not Cannabis.
    He stated to her that he had stomach trouble, a chronic cold, and was all but unable to get out of bed in the morning, hmmm, sounds more like clinical depression, or the DT’s from something harder. I also wonder if the Cannabis in the UK is coming from irreputable distributors who may be lacing it with something heavier, ie: PCP, MDMA, or even opiate derivatives, this could explain why Bell is not the only horrified mum in England.
    Thank you for getting this out there, I just read Mrs. Bells’ book and was infuriated by her sheer ignorance and selfishness.
    Don’t let the bastards grind you down!

  2. I have to congratulate you on the exposing of this middle class mania. Unfortunately we will be seeing more and more of this fear mongering as it becomes closer to the legalization of cannabis.

    This debra bell incident is disgusting and she should be outed by her peers for such raging misinformation and reefer madness, not to mention cashing in on her sons misery is disgusting.

    When will these idiots realize cannabis only heightens what you feel at the time. If you have a underlying mental health problem, using cannabis WILL out it. I feel sorry for her son under so much pressure. Its no wonder he turned to cannabis to self medicate against all the middle class performance charts children are expected to achieve nowadays.

    Typical ignorance and transference in play here, blaming something else as the cause of the problem is so much easier than looking inward to reveal that Debra was more than likely the root cause of her sons problems.

  3. Dr Zerrin Atakan supports legalisation and regulaiton of cannabisi(on the basis that it is to dangerous to be left unregulated)

    See here for example

  4. Pingback: Talking About Cannabis Resort To Threats Of Violence « the void

  5. Chris – while I agree with your general point, crystal meth never took off in the UK. There’s almost zero chance that it was something this kid got into since it is not in general circulation here.

  6. that photo is shopped

    the shadows on wills clothes are too light compared to the other guys in the picture

  7. Thanks for writing to the publisher and for posting these blog entries.

    It’s so frustrating to hear the misinformation that the likes of her come out with flying around uncontested and uncriticised.

    The most worrying thing though is that she is far from the worst out there, it’s people like Mary Brett (loved that article btw) who scare me. By posing as authorities on the topic and quoting scientific studies out of context they give faux – validity to their ideas.

    I’ve attached my email address – if you ever need someone to do some research just fire an email my direction.

    Good work, please keep at it.

  8. To anyone still reading this: The TAC website continues to limp on, still advertising “drug advice organisations” which are fronts for the Scientologists, in order to raise a few bucks.

    The site now features a forum, which welcomes debate –

    So far, there are a whopping 9 members, watched over by 2 admins. One of the Admins is Debra herself, who has not even so much as logged on to her site since May 22nd.

    The remaining, single admin goes under the name of The Path. Could he possibly be William / Oliver?

    Why not pop on over and express your views?

    Also advertised on the TAC site: (IP address: Anybody ever heard of them / know anything about them?

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