Katharine Quarmby is a writer and journalist, and a Royal Literary Fund Fellow. She has worked as a journalist for the BBC, including stints as Newsnight’s science and politics producer, and at The Economist, as well as contributing to newspapers. Her third non-fiction book, Hear My Cry, co-written with ‘honour’ violence survivor, Diana Kader, is published this year by Hachette Poland. Her previous books have won the AMIA International Literature Award and been shortlisted for the Bread and Roses Non-Fiction award, and her journalism has been shortlisted for the Paul Foot Prize. She finds the connection – and clash – between science and society on particular issues completely fascinating, and has written about or made films about genetic modification, the BSE crisis, adoption, genetics and identity, fertility and the nuclear industry.
Katharine previously wrote 'Sex, lives and disability' for Mosaic.
What is your feature about?
It’s about testing the case for medical cannabis to be introduced in the UK. I think it’s important to tell controversial stories ‘in the round’ – interview people with widely differing points of view about whether or not there should be reform of our cannabis laws, in this case. I felt it was crucial to hear the voices of scientists on the latest research (on how effective cannabis is a treatment) and of people, many of whom have disabling conditions, who feel that their access to a medicine that they feel is of use to them is denied.
What did you learn that you didn’t expect?
I’m intrigued by the fact that cannabis still carries such a pariah status as a plant and drug. This means that advocates both for and against are very passionate about their positions. This makes for a good story but puts a lot of pressure on scientists, somewhere in the middle, trying to puzzle out the benefits and harms of cannabis.
Read Katharine's feature on Mosaic, publishing 18 August 2015.