They say ‘don’t shoot the messenger’, but that really depends who the messenger is, and how much damage they’re doing. Emma Castle finds out whether celebrity chef Pete Evans is a hindrance or a help in the crusade to raise awareness around medicinal cannabis.
Former My Kitchen Rules judge and cannabis advocate Pete Evans says and does some stupid things. The charge sheet is long, but his most recent indiscretion – posting a neo-Nazi symbol on social media – saw him promptly dropped by a bunch of brands including Coles, Woolies, Channel Ten and his book publisher.
He was previously fined A$25,000 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for promoting a device he claimed could cure COVID-19. He has copped heat from the Australian Medical Association for his claims on fluoride and calcium, is a prominent anti-vaxxer and has outraged parenting experts by promoting the paleo diet to babies. That’s not to mention allegations of holocaust denial.
And just in case we need to remind ourselves, Evans is a celebrity chef, not a doctor.
But that hasn’t stopped him making a documentary about cannabis – The Magic Plant – speaking at industry events, writing a cannabis cookbook and generally manoeuvring to position himself as the face of cannabis in Australia.
And while he says and does some stupid things, not everything he says and does is stupid.
Take The Magic Plant, for example. It’s a comprehensive look at the medicinal and semi-recreational cannabis scene in Australia and the US, a persuasive piece of film-making that includes testimony from numerous credible experts.
The problem is, while Evans may be on the right side of the argument about the benefits of medicinal cannabis, scientists, doctors and researchers have spent decades doing clinical studies to prove its efficacy and fight the stigma it still suffers from in some quarters.