Pam St Clement tells us about her marijuana-fuelled road trip across America...
Pam St Clement is known to millions as chain-smoking EastEnders legend Pat Butcher. But the actress was puffing on something much stronger than cigarettes during her recent trip to America for ITV’s new documentary series, Gone to Pot.
The three-parter sees Pam, along with Birds of a Feather star Linda Robson, entertainer Christopher Biggins, darts supremo Bobby George and former footballer John Fashanu, board a psychedelic bus to visit some American states where smoking marijuana for recreational and medicinal purposes is legal.
Here What’s On TV talks to EastEnders legend Pam St Clement about smoking cannabis…
WOTV: What made you want to take part in the show?
Pam St Clement: “I think it’s very important for us to debate the subject of whether marijuana should be legal in the UK. Every so often it pops up and then it kind of gets forgotten because nobody wants to talk about it.”
WOTV: You met some interesting people along the way though…
Pam: “We met a 94 year-old lady called Nonna Marijuana, whose daughter had had a terrible accident many years ago. After years of operations and painkillers, she was still in a great deal of pain so she tried cannabis and it really eased her suffering. Nonna still cooks food and gives it to people who are suffering from cancer now. She was an amazing woman.”
WOTV: Had you tried marijuana before?
Pam: “Yes I had – when I was younger but not regularly – it was the sort of thing that happened at a party so infrequently that I can’t even remember it.”
WOTV: What did it feel like to smoke a joint again after so many years?
Pam: “We met a guy called Harry the Hippy. He invited us to a party and when we walked it was frightfully ‘60s, with bongo drums and flower power everywhere. Linda and I felt rather out of place and then suddenly this joint was passed round. We thought “Oh go on, it would be rude not to!” It was so relaxing and we ended up chatting and giggling away for hours!”
WOTV: You were joined by Birds of a Feather actress Linda Robson, darts legend Bobby George, ex-footballer John Fashanu and actor Christopher Biggins, did you all get on?
Pam: “Oh there were definitely differences of opinions – each day was a see saw – one day we would be like “oh we’ve definitely got to legalise this, both medically and recreationally and then the next day it would be …no, no – just medical – this went on every day, dependent on the people we were meeting and the experiences we were having. We all got on really well – we were in that psychedelic bus for so long – we had to get on!”
WOTV: Tell us about the psychedelic bus…
Pam: “It’s absolutely brilliant, here let me show you a picture.”
WOTV: After everything you saw on the trip, do you think marijuana should be made legal in the UK?
Pam: “We had a vote on the last day and I think I was the only person who was against legalizing it recreationally, but I think it needs to be legalised medically because it helps so many people.”
WOTV: Are you worried about the damage it could do in the wrong hands?
Pam: “Marijuana these days is so much stronger than it was 10 or 20 years ago and you’re getting unforeseen circumstances as a consequence . The brain of a youngster is developing up to the age of 30 – so it’s not just teenagers – and it can cause schizophrenia, which is very worrying.”
WOTV: What was it like going on a police raid to an illegal farm?
Pam: “That was so exciting – when does an old biddy like me ever get chance to follow a SWAT team into an illegal raid – I mean they were all there in their gear.”
WOTV: Were you dressed up too?
Pam: “No, no – we weren’t allowed to go in, until they’d cleared the area because the workers were there and they had weapons – so they had to clear the area first and arrest everyone. They arrested nine people and then we were allowed to go in. In fact we walked past the nine prisoners and they were sad bunch – that was in Pueblo, a Colorado State.”
WOTV: Were you recognized at all over there, from the telly?
Pam: “Yes moderately so, but much less hassle than in England.”
WOTV: Do you smoke cigarettes normally – we’re so used to seeing you as Pat Butcher from EastEnders who always had a cigarette on the go?
Pam: “No! People always thought I smoked because I was always either holding one, putting one out or lighting one.”
Watch Pam St Clement in Gone to Pot when it starts on ITV on Monday 13 November at 9pm.