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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

A CLEAR Response to the Institute of Psychiatry’s Latest Cannabis and Psychosis Scaremongering

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Dr Marta di Forti

The Insititute of Psychiatry is today announcing its latest study on the links between cannabis and psychosis – ‘The contribution of cannabis use to variation in the incidence of psychotic disorder across Europe (EU-GEI): a multicentre case-control study’.

For many years, its leading lights Professor Sir Robin Murray and Dr Marta di Forti have published study after study attempting to show a causal link between cannabis use and psychosis.  They have never managed to achieve this and despite concerted efforts, the link cannot be described as anything more than extremely tenuous.  The number of people that may be affected is infinitesimally small, while hundreds of millions of people worldwide consume cannabis regularly without any ill effects.

Every year in the early spring Dr di Forti and Professor Murray publish their latest study on the subject. It’s always interesting to see the latest iteration of their work although all the studies are remarkably similar

Cannabis is a psychoactive substance so clearly it can have an effect on mental health.  We know from at least 10,000 years of human experience that for most people this is a beneficial effect.  The number of people that suffer negative effects is difficult to quantify but we can be certain that it is very small. Research published in the journal Addiction shows that in order to prevent just one case of psychosis, more than 20,000 people would have to stop using cannabis. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/add.13826/full

This level of risk must be compared with other risks to give it any meaning. For instance, if the risk of a diagnosis of psychosis correlating with cannabis use is 1 in 20,000, the risk of being struck by lightning in one’s lifetime is about 1 in 3,000. This puts the risk into a realistic perspective.
https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0623_040623_lightningfacts.html

It’s also important to understand that this latest study does nothing to show that cannabis actually causes psychosis, only that there is an association or correlation with cannabis use.  There may be other correlations which may or may not be much stronger.  For instance the populations studied may also use tobacco, drink wine, eat spicy food, live in a city centre or exercise regularly or not at all.  Similarly it cannot be shown that any of these factors are the cause of psychosis.

It is also interesting that the study deems an average of 14% THC to be high potency cannabis.  Throughout the USA and Canada, average THC content now exceeds 20%, sometimes as high as 35% and there is no reported increase in rates of psychosis.

Finally, it has to be said that Dr di Forti is well known for her theoretical projections about cannabis use which can be quite alarmist. Thankfully, they have never been reflected in actual healthcare records and the number of cases of psychosis correlating with the use of natural cannabis in the UK remains very low, no more than a few hundred.  There are many, very much more risky activities to be concerned about.

What is certain is that the way safely to manage the risks of cannabis, even though they are so low, is in a legally regulated environment. In this case products are labelled so that the content is known, quality is maintained to a standard avoiding contamination and impurities and if anyone does experience problems they can seek help without having to confess to a crime. Age limits can also be enforced ensuring that children do not have the easy access to cannabis that they have, for instance, in the UK.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

March 20, 2019 at 10:27 am

Asking Politicians to Order Doctors to Prescribe Cannabis is a Futile Quest

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Last year, when Sajid Javid introduced the new regulations permitting prescribing of cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) he went much further than anyone could have expected.

For 50 years doctors had been told that cannabis was a highly toxic, dangerous drug with no therapeutic value.  Then, in the space of few weeks they were suddenly told by the Chief Medical Officer that there was “conclusive evidence” of therapeutic benefit. The truth is successive governments and the Home Office had been engaged in systematic disinformation and lies about cannabis. Suddenly they expected doctors to believe exactly the opposite of what they had been told before.

In fact, what Sajid Javid really did was to pass the buck, so while I have some sympathy for the predicament of doctors and total contempt for our pathetic political class, the buck is now in the right place.  However, we have a medical establishment that is so risk averse and so crushed by bureaucracy that it is transfixed by the challenge of getting to grips with cannabis and there is a total lack of leadership from the Royal Colleges or any of the professional bodies. The ultimate demonstration of this is that the British Paediatric Neurology Association wants doctors to consider brain surgery for epilepsy before prescribing cannabis.  This is a profession that has lost touch with reality and common sense.

The result is that doctors will not prescribe cannabis but the idea that they can be ordered to do so by politicians is a non-starter.  It is difficult to understand what campaigners hope to achieve by marching on Westminster and lobbying MPs.

Eventually, the efforts that are being made in medical education will bear fruit and doctors will start to prescribe but this will take time and many will suffer while they wait for doctors to catch up with what is already well understood in many parts of the world.

So what can be done?

Government can take action on two fronts which will accelerate progress. First of all, improve supply.  By its own admission, in response to an FOI Request, the Home Office has done nothing to facilitate production of CBPMs. This could be changed immediately. There is a queue of well qualified and financed companies ready to develop production facilities.  While Sajid Javid cannot order doctors to prescribe, he can order his reluctant and backwards officials to issue licences.  Within a year we can have a domestic supply of CBPMs and the doctors will have something to prescribe and products they can become familiar with.

The second way government can act is on regulation.  Doctors are terrified of cannabis and need reassurance. Everything they have been taught goes against prescribing cannabis.

However, cannabis is safe for 99% of people. We know this from 10,000 years of experience. The hysterical scaremongering from places such as the Institute of Psychiatry are actually aboput a tiny proportion of people using high strength cannabis as a recreational drug, a totally different circumstance to a high quality medicinal product used under close supervision. As a plant-based medicine, cannabis contains 400 – 500 molecules unlike pharmaceutical medicines which are usually a single molecule. It is impossible therefore to regulate cannabis in the same way as pharmaceuticals and given millennia of experience it is unnecessary.

In every other jurisdiction in the world where cannabis has been made legally available for medical use a separate system of regulation for it has been established. Until UK follows this path, the pharmaceutical-funded medical establishment will never accept cannabis as a legitimate medicine.

So what politicans can do is free up the supply chain for CBPMs and regulate them in an appropriate and rational way.  This is where we need to be focused in order to make progress and bring relief and a healthier life to millions.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 19, 2019 at 1:26 pm

CBD Isolates Are NOT Becoming A Controlled Substance

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Mike Harlington’s CTA has put out an announcement that CBD isolates are becoming a controlled substance.  There is no truth in this at all, it is nothing but speculation and opinion.

Even if the speculation is correct that isolates will remain classified as a novel food, the terminology is wrong. ‘Controlled’ has a specific meaning in UK law and is applied to drugs classified and scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  There is no prospect whatsoever of this applying to CBD in any form.

It is correct that the FSA initially classified isolates as novel in January 2018 and no reasonable person can have any objection to this.  Clearly, there cannot be any evidence of them having been consumed in the EU area prior to 1997.  It’s a separate point that this is bureaucratic overkill.  There’s no evidence that isolates are unsafe so there’s no reason to require them to go through an authorisation process except simply to comply with the letter of the law. It is bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake and a complete waste of the FSA’s time and taxpayers’ money.

Another, more pertinent point is that despite isolates being classified as novel for well over a year, the FSA has done absolutely nothing about enforcement.  This whole rigmarole is pointless and doing little else other than keeping civil servants in work, making up rules which they then do nothing about.

What remains a far more worrying prospect, which has been entirely overlooked, is that in June 2018, the FSA also indicated that selective extracts would be regarded as novel. The argument for this is equally as strong and logical as it is for isolates and this poses a much more worrying prospect for the CBD industry.

Selective extracts are extracts in which the proportions of the component moleclues have been adjusted, most commonly by the elimination of THC.  Making such adjustments, dialling up or down particular components is an inherent facility of supercritical CO2 extraction. But just as there can be no evidence of isolates having been consumed in the EU area prior to 1997, neither can there be any for selective extracts.  Extracts consumed in the past will have been made by less sophisticated processes that do not permit such adjustments.

So the deep irony in this is that in order to avoid any infringement of drugs laws by removing the THC, such products will be in breach of food law.

Where the FSA is going with this no one knows. It has made major errors in its bungling and incompetent attempt to outlaw CBD products and its top priority now seems to be saving face.  Similarly, having bragged about his mythical ‘close working relationship’ with the FSA, Harlington is also desperately trying to save face and make it look as if he is ahead of the game.  It’s just more of his characteristic bluster and bullshit.  Don’t be taken in.

Any predictions I will make about the future will also be speculation but I am quite confident that this time next year whole plant, low-THC cannabis extracts will still be on sale. In fact I am sure that the market will have continued to expand rapidly.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 13, 2019 at 10:35 pm

Presentation at the Hemp CBD Expo, 2nd March 2019

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I spoke at the Hemp CBD Expo at around 5.00pm on Saturday, 2nd March 2019.  Below is my speech as originally composed.  An audio file is available here. A video will be available shortly. My PowerPoint presentation file is here.

“Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen.

My name is Peter Reynolds and I am the president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform. We were founded in 1999 and we now have around three-quarters of a million followers on social media and we’re approaching a total of 5,000 paid up members.  That makes us the longest-established cannabis group in the UK and our follower and membership base is several times that of all other UK drugs policy groups put together.

Last year we launched Cannabis Professionals or CannaPro, the trade association for the UK’s cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses.  I am going to explain to you why, what we think we can contribute to this industry and how we are going to do it.

First of all though I have some BREAKING NEWS!

Downing Street has just confirmed that the mastermind behind the FSA’s decision to place CBD products in the EU Novel Food Catalogue is none other than Theresa May’s number one fixer, Chris Grayling!

Now that’s not really true, in fact it’s fake news but there is a kernel of truth in it and that is that just like everything else Grayling touches, this move is the height of incompetence and just as many are calling for Grayling’s blood, so too they will be calling for some accountability at the FSA.

First of all, these are CLEAR’s aims and objectives.

It’s a pleasure to be asked to speak to you today and I do think that this event represents a significant moment in the legal cannabis industry in the UK.

Of course we’ve had a legal cannabis industry for thousands of years.  There was just a brief interlude between 1964 and 1993 when even the cultivation of industrial hemp was banned. So, although there have been severe restrictions on cannabis since 1928, it was actually only those 29 years when there was no legal industry at all.

The CBD business as we know it today started in about 2012 and at CLEAR we saw immediately what it was about. By then, largely due to uptake of the internet, knowledge of the medicinal benefits of cannabis was exploding.  People were looking for a way that they could enjoy these benefits without breaking the law.  The big leap came with the story of Charlotte Figi, when the almost miraculous effect of CBD on epilepsy became widely understood.  It was really in 2013/14 when CBD websites started to appear in numbers. Back in those early days the leading brands were Plus CBD and, of course, Charlotte’s Web. In Europe, Endoca was leading the way.

And now look where we are!  This show is the realisation of a market which no one has really quantified but is certainly worth at least £50 million a year and probably a whole lot more.

At CLEAR we realised very early on that the way this market developed was going to have a huge influence on wider cannabis law reform and that’s why we have been deeply involved with it from the very beginning.  I genuinely believe that the medical reforms last year only happened because the booming CBD market has washed away a lot of the stigma around cannabis and shown hundreds of thousands of people that it does have real therapeutic benefits.

And here we come to one of the most difficult aspects of this business. CBD businesses are not allowed to claim or imply any medicinal benefits from their products yet you can be absolutely certain that is exactly the reason most people are buying them!

I cannot think of another market or a comparable situation where anything like this has happened before.  It is one of the principle reasons why we are facing such opposition from the medical and big business establishment.

I have never been a supporter of the Big Pharma conspiracy theory that pervades the cannabis campaign.  Particularly in the USA, the pharmaceutical industry is thought to be almost entirely responsible for continuing federal prohibition.  In fact if you read Facebook comments from our American followers you’d think that Big Pharma was responsible for nearly every problem on our planet!

Now I don’t say there’s no truth in it at all but there’s precious little evidence aside from the isolated instance of Insys Therapeutics where the former directors are now looking at very long jail sentences for a variety of corruption offences. But there’s not much else to support the theory.  In fact, if Big Pharma could harness the healing power of cannabis that some of the more extreme evangelists claim for it, they’d be all over it.  And no, it’s not true that you can’t patent cannabis, there are hundreds of patents on extracts, applications and techniques.

It is a different world in America though, far more competitive about medicines because they don’t have an NHS.  Unlike here, drug companies advertise direct to the public and branding is as big in medicine as it is in soft drinks or fast food.

However, I do think that the intervention in this industry from the MHRA back in 2016 and now the FSA has some sinister, vested interests behind it. I think major corporations see a potentially huge market here and it would suit them for it to be so heavily regulated that only the biggest businesses can make it work. I also think it’s a pathological obsession of bureaucrats to interfere when something big is happening which they haven’t got their claws into – and I think these regulators are being improperly influenced to interfere when there’s no real justification.

After all, the World Health Organisation has given CBD a clean bill of health, not in the equivocal way that most such decisions are made but absolutely.  It says CBD is safe.

I’ve had a number of meetings with the FSA over the past 12 – 18 months. The most recent being on 1st February about the current novel foods debacle.  One moment stands out from that which is instructive about the way that regulators operate.  The Head of Novel Foods confirmed for me that the purpose of the legislation was to ensure safety of food and food ingredients.  He also confirmed that the FSA has no evidence to suggest that CBD products are unsafe.

It’s bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake.  In my opinion, a flagrant waste of taxpayers’ money, that’s our money, when there are so many more important things we could be spending it on.  For me, as a Brexiteer, it’s more reinforcement of the reason I voted leave.  We have more than enough busy body bureaucrats in the UK without more and more layers of it from the EU.  It should be instructive to everybody of the way that civil servants’ minds work that this attack on our industry was made surreptitiously through the EU when we’re supposed to be freeing ourselves of those shackles.

As a wider point, if we’ve got civil servants kicking their heels, desperate to interfere in something new, why don’t they get on with regulating the entire cannabis market properly? The immense damage that the £6 billion criminal market causes in our society is something that really does need intervention.

So, going back to the MHRA’s intervention in the CBD market in 2016. There had been mutterings for some months but it was Dan Culbertson of Love CBD who tipped me off that something was actually happening.

I spoke to some of my key contacts, particularly Tom and Tony of Love Hemp and I approached the MHRA seeking a meeting.  As in most cases like this, its first resort was to try and ignore us but eventually I had the Conservative MP, Crispin Blunt and the neurologist Professor Mike Barnes write to the chief executive.  They were both members of the CLEAR board and that did lead to the MHRA agreeing to meet.

This was the creation of the Cannabis Trades Association. As well as Love Hemp I invited other key contacts to attend the first meeting and then offered the job of running the CTA to an individual who you all know, who at the time Tom, Tony and I were in partnership with as he was supposed to be running a licensed industrial hemp farm for the extraction of CBD oil.

The progress of the MHRA’s intervention followed a path which seems to be strangely repeated in what is now happening with the FSA.  That is, it came in very heavy handed and aggressive to begin with, threatening action which it really didn’t have the authority to implement but then it backed off quite quickly when we stood up to its bullying and demonstrated a professional attitude.  Based on the clinical trials that GW Pharma were conducting with Epidiolex, its cannabidiol medicine, I proposed a maximum daily adult dosage of 200mg as the most important element of an agreement that would enable CBD to continue to be sold as a food supplement.

Now, even to this day, the MHRA has still not confirmed its agreement to this (last they told me was that they are still ‘considerin’g it) but in practice it has accepted it.  Again, this should be instructive to all of us about the way that bureaucrats work.

The other big issue, of course, was about not making medical claims and for the two years that I worked intensively as part of the CTA, we did a good job of bringing responsible businesses into compliance and, largely speaking, we had defeated the MHRA’s attempt to close the industry down.

As many of you will know, I, and indeed Love Hemp, resigned from the CTA in October last year.  Anyone who wants to know why can very easily find out. Just look at my personal website. Suffice to say that we had very grave concerns about issues of dishonesty and unethical conduct.

I’m not going to say any more about that today but I am going to talk about how I believe a trade association should operate.

Now this is not a pitch for members because CannaPro doesn’t have members in the same way as other organisations. It makes no difference to me or to CannaPro if you choose to give large amounts of money to another trade body. We see no necessity to charge large monthly fees for providing a service which directly supports CLEAR’s aims and objectives. As I said at the beginning, we see the development of the legal cannabis market as one of the most important drivers of cannabis law reform.  Only if we can demonstrate that we can run responsible and legally compliant businesses in CBD and exempt products will we be able to claim we can do the same with products that contain THC.

Also, we don’t believe it is desirable for a trade association to make money or turn into a bureaucracy itself.  It’s the businesses that should be making a profit and building resources for themselves. A trade association should not be about empire building, its focus should be on the businesses it is supposed to support, not on itself.

So while I don’t rule out CannaPro ever charging membership fees, for now the only time we ask for money is when we carry out a review of a business’s products, website, marketing methods and trading standards.  This then enables us to offer any necessary advice or guidance on compliance and if we are satisfied to certify the business, so that it can display a CannaPro Certified badge.  We charge a £120 one-off application fee for this and there are no further ongoing charges.

We are already well advanced, working with leading media consultants on putting together a national advertising campaign delivering the same message that we are already doing on social media.  Something like this…

Similarly, CannaPro will always publish all its advice and guidance openly.  We can see no purpose in keeping it secret or operating behind closed doors when our intention is to support the industry as a whole.

We have communicated openly about our recent negotiations with the FSA and we will continue to do so.  If you follow CannaPro we will keep you apprised of the latest developments as they happen and we will not insist you have to become a member and pay fees in order to share in this intelligence.

Another important principle is that CannaPro represents the industry to the authorities and not vice versa. We are not an extension of government, doing its enforcement work at our members’ expense.  It is our job to stand up to meddling, interfering bureaucrats and to push back at them.  We will defend this industry against attack without requiring it to fund a new bureaucracy in its trade association.

For instance, we entirely support the prohibition of medical claims for CBD products.  This is not a new thing and clearly before anyone can claim medical benefits for anything it must be subject to testing and verification.  The alternative is that we will have snake oil, nothing more than coloured water, offered as a cancer cure and to be fair, we have already had almost exactly that in the CBD market.  If any of you have ever come across a joker trading as Sacred Kana, that is exactly what he is doing. Claiming to sell 10,000 mg of CBD for less than fifty quid which will cure you of stage 4 cancer.  He’s an extreme case. There are others operating along the same lines and frankly I do think people like this need strong action against them.  They should go to jail and be permanently restrained from ever running a business.

But the trouble is the MHRA is doing virtually nothing about enforcement. Similarly, the FSA, which declared CBD isolate a novel food over a year ago, is doing nothing about enforcing that.

Really medicines regulation in this country and across the first world is broken, unfit for purpose and entirely self-serving for the pharmaceutical industry.  The process, administered by the MHRA, has been designed for the pharmaceutical industry by people who used to work in the pharmaceutical industry and it is incapable of regulating a plant based medicine.  Everyone involved has a vested interest in prolonging the process and extending its complexity because the millions spent on clinical trials go into companies which are owned by the pharmaceutical industry.

There was a study published in the Journal of Molecular Neurobiology last year which identified CBD as an ideal candidate for a fast-acting, effective anti-depressant with few side effects.  But the reality is that to obtain a marketing authorisation in the UK or the EU or an FDA licence would take many, many years, tens of millions in investment and would result in a much higher price than necessary.  But as it stands that is the only way to develop a medicine that can be prescribed by a medical profession that is so risk averse it has forgotten how to care for patients.  Just since the new regulations on medical cannabis last November I have lost count of the number of reports we have received where a consultant flatly refuses even to consider cannabis but will prescribe opioids in a prescription that can be repeated simply by asking for it.  And the British Paediatric Neurology Association says that using CBD for epilepsy should be the last resort.  Literally they say try brain surgery, slicing into a child’s brain, before trying CBD.

So we have these bureaucracies which are supposed to be acting in the public interest but they’re marking their own homework, ensuring their former and future colleagues benefit from the regulations they impose with fat fees and lucrative contracts and preventing anyone who isn’t part of their club from having any chance of getting a licence for a medicine. They overreach themselves, attempting to set rules and regulations often beyond their lawful authority (the Home Office is a particularly heinous examples of this) and then, when these regulations are breached, they’re not even enforcing the most serious infringements.

An example in point is the question of hemp teas.  Now if these are made from leaf and flower, they are cannabis and they are an illegal, class B drug which theoretically could get any of you selling them 14 years in jail.  But this has never been enforced and CannaPro will certify businesses that sell hemp teas.  We will not certify businesses that sell CBD flowers or buds because these are cannabis and their THC content is irrelevant to their legal status.  Yet there’s no enforcement of this going on.  There are shops in virtually every town in this country openly selling low-THC cannabis flowers and nothing is being done about it.  Now this is wrong.  These businesses are stealing your business when you are doing your best to operate within the law and they should be stopped. Even when cannabis is fully legalised, there will still be regulations that need to be enforced.

Believe it or not, I was contacted by the drugs lead at West Midlands Police just last wek asking for my advice on hemp flowers, so I told him.  I confirmed they are illegal and I explained to him why and how they cannot be classified as exempt in the same way as CBD oil. And what I said to him was the same as I would say to anyone else. If you’re going to break the ridiculous law which prohibits adults accessing cannabis, then my advice is have some THC in your buds. It makes no difference under the law whether your flowers have 0.2% THC or 20% but I know which I prefer.

So it’s about balance. It’s about being sensible. The MHRA says a link to a study about CBD for anxiety is an implied claim of medicinal benefit. Strictly speaking it probably is but provided it’s not part of a concerted attempt to present products as medicines then it would not stop that business being certified by CannaPro.

CannaPro is on the side of the entire industry whether you’re certified by us or not because this industry’s future is the future of cannabis.  We are not exclusive of anyone.  We are inclusive.  You can have our advice and guidance without charge.

And we are in the vanguard of developing CBD medicines.  All the work I do for CLEAR and CannaPro is voluntary.  I get paid nothing for it.  I make my living as a writer and marketing consultant but more and more as an advisor on cannabis product development and licensing.  I am working with clients on the development of products which can be marketed under the new regulations as Cannabis-based Products for Medicinal use – CBPMs. Also on products for which we will apply for a Traditional Herbal Registration – THR and for veterinary CBD products which require a marketing authorisation from the VMD.

As I published when I first created the CTA, the intention was to establish a trade association that would represent to government the interests of those engaged in legitimate production and sale of cannabis products.  Those are the values and the purpose which we carry forward in CannaPro and I look forward to working with a many of you as possible in that cause towards ending forever the prohibition of cannabis.

My real, long term objective is to close down CLEAR.  I look to the day when complete reform of our cannabis laws has been achieved. There will still be regulations as there are in all legal markets but as long as adults have legal access to cannabis in all its forms for both therapeutic use and as an alternative to alcohol as a recreational drug – and the right to grow it, even within limits – then and only then, our work will be done.”

People of Cannabis, the ‘M’ Word is Exactly the Same as the ‘N’ Word. Rule It Out.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

March 2, 2019 at 9:10 pm

Two MPs Who Aren’t Fit And Proper Persons To Be In Parliament. But How Many of Them Are?

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Christopher Chope who believes his concerns about Parliament’s procedures justify sabotaging bills about ‘up skirting’ and female genital mutilation.

John Hayes who wants to introduce a mandatory custodial sentence for people charged with repeated possession of cannabis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many MPs are fit to be in Parliament?  It’s not our fault.  We get just about zero choice of who is on the ballot paper. It’s all determined by the political parties.  Or, more accurately, it’s determined by the ‘grandees’ of the Conservative and Labour parties who cook our political system up to suit their own ends.  There’s no other word for this than corruption.

There are a very few MPs of integrity in Parliament but it is increasingly difficult to think of more than about one percent of them. Yes, that’s about half a dozen and no more.

Theresa May’s party takes the biscuit though. Her letter to her MPs this weekend proves that she and her colleagues are entirely self-serving. For them Brexit is only about themselves. They are not acting in the interests of the nation. Again, there’s no other word for this than corruption.

Whatever votes these paltry excuse for leaders take in Parliment there’s one majority we can be absolutely certain of. At least 600 of them are unfit to hold public office.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 17, 2019 at 3:06 pm

Cannabis and CBD. UK and EU Bureaucrats -v- The People and Parliament.

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For decades, public opinion and knowledge on cannabis has been way ahead of those in Parliament and civil servants in the Home Office and the Department of Health.

In other countries, governments have been more ready to update themselves on scientific knowledge and they are more speedily held to account through more effective democracies. At last, the UK Parliament has acted on access to cannabis for medical use as it should have 20 years ago.  Both Canada and the Netherlands introduced legal access in 2001 and California even five years before that.

But the will of Parliament is being stifled and subverted by bureaucracts in the NHS and the Department of Health.  As MPs are never shy to remind us, under our constitution, Parliament is supreme.  That makes the conduct of these civil servants unlawful.  They are being obstructive about the prescribing of cannabis.  They need to be compliant with the law or they become guilty of maladminstration.  We should have no more patience with this wilful misconduct.  Their responsibility is to facilitate implementation of the law, not find ways to delay it because of their personal opinions.

The same goes for the Home Office which has done absolutely nothing to revise its cannabis licensing policy in accordance with the new regulations.  Well-qualified, experienced, international corporations, willing to make multimillion pound investments in Britain to produce the cannabis-based products (CBPMs) which we need are being refused licences for no good reason. If the products are not available, how will they ever reach the patients who Parliament has decreed are entitled to access them?

For 50 years, the Home Office has run a systematic campaign of disinformation because it is institutionally opposed to cannabis. Until Sajid Javid, civil servants have thwarted the efforts of all minsters that have tried to introduce any drugs policy reform.  Now he has to stand up against the subversive forces within his own department or someone has to fund judical review of the Home Office’s maladminstration of cannabis licensing. Just as in the Windrush Scandal, the Home Office maintains a ‘hostile environment’ based on senior civil servants’ personal prejudices rather than the best interests of Britain and now, the law.

CBD. Big Pharma Protectionism, Bureaucrat Box-Ticking or Both?

Many people are not yet aware of the meddling that is going on with CBD products.  There is a real threat that they could be removed from sale within the next few months.  This depsite their soaring popularity with the public and that hundreds, if not thousands of people are now employed in our burgeoning CBD industry.

CBD products are, in fact, whole plant extracts from low-THC cannabis which meet the criteria under drugs law to be exempt.  They have become very popular because people were seeking a legal way of accessing the medicinal benefits of cannabis which have become widely understood, mainly as the internet has provided knowledge previously suppressed by government and media scaremongering.

Two years ago, the meddling began as civil servants from the MHRA, the medicines regulator, stepped in with heavy-handed threats to close the market down because of unlawful medicinal claims.  To be fair, there was good justification for this.  Medicines regulation is an essential function of government, otherwise we will have snake oil confidence tricksters selling coloured water as a cancer cure.  So CLEAR acted and organised a response to the MHRA from the leading CBD companies.  Now, the responsible and ethical companies have regulated themselves, stopped making medicinal claims and market their products as food supplements, just like vitamins and minerals than can help to maintain health and boost wellness.

So CBD companies have successfully negotiated their way through both drugs and medicines law but now the food police have stepped in with yet more problems.  This time the civil servants objections are entirely unnecessary and unjustifiable but they are the most serious threat that CBD companies and consumers have faced.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) from the UK and its opposite numbers in other EU countries have placed cannabis extracts in the EU Novel Foods Catalogue, which is for products that have not been consumed to a significant degree in the EU before 1997. This means that without going through a lengthy and very expensive authorisation process, all CBD products could become unlawful to sell.

Why?  When I met with the FSA and its novel foods team just over a week ago, it acknowledged that the purpose of the novel foods regulations was to ensure that food products and supplements are safe.  It also confirmed that it had no evidence that cannabis extracts or CBD products are unsafe. So, on the face of it, this seems to be simply a matter of bureaucrats who want their boxes ticked, for no other reason than that is what bureaucrats do.

But the widely-held opinion from those in the know, is that what is really behind this are the vested interests of painkiller companies who are seeing a big impact on sales of their products. Even the World Health Organization has recently given CBD an unequivocal endorsement as safe and effective, whereas the toxicity of paracetamol, ibuprofen, other NSAIDs and opioids is now well understood.

You see, however CBD products are sold, it is an indisputable fact that they are purchased for their medicinal benefit – and that they work.  This is a big threat to pharmaceutical company profits and so they are wielding their big stick.  They tried through the MHRA to close down CBD and now they are trying through the FSA.

Exactly the same thing is happening in the USA.  The recent passage of the Farm Bill has removed CBD from the Controlled Substances Act but now the FDA (which combines the functions of our MHRA and FSA) has stepped in and said it is illegal to sell as a food supplement because it is the active ingredient in a licensed medicine.

We Will Overcome

So a battle royal is starting.  What the outcome will be is uncertain.  It is complex and multi-threaded.  Different strategies are being developed and varying ideas are being put forward as to how to deal with this threat.  Many people now rely on CBD for their health and the imminent threat of it not being available is a danger to individuals and so to our entire society.

Whatever happens, I am certain that commonsense and the people will prevail.  For a century, the use of cannabis as medicine has continued despite every effort from governments and vested interests to stamp it out.  The same will happen with CBD.  Even it it disappears from the high street, it will continue to be available online and if it can’t be sold as a food supplement, it will move into a new category.

Once again, it will take politicians far too long to wake up and out-of-control civil servants will try to pursue their own agenda which, I am quite sure, is under the corrupt and improper influence of big business.  It will be challenging and very difficult but the people have dealt with these dark forces before and we will continue to do so.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 10, 2019 at 2:19 pm