A minor illicit drug indiscretion involving Channel Nine’s ‘The Voice’ judge Joel Madden, brought unwanted attention to the hit show in the lead up to its grand finale last month. As was reported in the Australian, the Star City Casino alerted police that a staff member had found cannabis in the hotel room where Mr Madden had been lodging for two months. Police responded to the call and he was issued with a simple caution hours later. As the amount he was allegedly in possession of was less than fifteen grams, under the Cannabis Cautioning Scheme, a NSW Police Officer may exercise discretion and issue a caution where appropriate. Madden was subsequently evicted by the hotel manager, while police informed Channel Nine that no charges will be laid.

Seal, fellow judge on ‘The Voice’, took to Twitter to voice his outrage at the fact that despite Mr Madden’s positive contribution to Australia, the incident made “front page news”. Seal’s tweets, which have since been deleted from his Twitter account, stated “Shame one [sic] The Star…you ask him to meet n greet a cancer victim in your hotel then send police to his room? Nice very classy…keep it up Judas. Done here. Can’t wait to go home…I for one will not stand by and watch you attempt to destroy my Brother, you gun us one you gun us all!”

Mr Madden on the other hand, as reported in The Australian, expressed gratitude to NSW Police for the way they handled the situation. In the days following he publically apologised, and tweeted “I hope this didn’t cause too much drama for everyone”.

The Voice has since concluded for the season to raved reviews.

While the incident provided an unpleasant brand risk for the show the minor infringement appeared to have little impact on its standing.  However, the incident did not go unnoticed amongst anti-drug advocates and medical professionals who urged that the actions of the artists and broadcasters of ‘The Voice”, Channel 9, should seize the opportunity to promote the negative effects of cannabis use.

In a radio show podcast of 3AW News Talk, top adolescent psychologist Dr Michael Carr-Greg pointed out the mounting evidence that demonstrates a clear connection between marijuana use and drug-induced psychosis. He commented on the notion that cannabis is a “benign” harmless substance, stating that ten per cent of the population are predisposed to mental illness through marijuana use.  He suggested that Madden voluntarily step down for at least one episode of the show to demonstrate the seriousness and dangers of his illegal conduct.

If coverage of the incident is going to reach the eyes and ears of aspiring young entertainers that look up to Mr Madden, and he is not condemned for such behaviour, it may arguably be trivializing cannabis use was the claim by Greg-Carr. The history of musicians, especially of those in pop bands, is coloured with a “live hard, fast and die young” attitude and a tendency to engage in thrill-seeking and risky behaviour such as alcohol and drug abuse, from which the term “sex, drugs and rock and roll” was coined. While there may well be an assumption that many people in the music industry use drugs, given that Mr Madden is a United Nations Goodwill Ambassador and undeniably a role model particularly for younger generations, it could be said that he has a responsibility with regards to how he conducts himself.  Yet the mere fact that the incident ‘blew over’ so quickly suggests that this minor indiscretion is not inconsistent with ‘Brand Joel’.