Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Seeing Green. A Film About Perspective, Family and Weed

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CLEAR is proud to present a new campaign film, in partnership with the filmmaker Tom McNie, whose work paints a portrait of cannabis use among ordinary British families, in ordinary British households up and down the country.

As the law stands; these characters – whose actions, rather than an act of curiosity or need – have made them criminals, face prison and an unlimited fine. Such is the prevalence of cannabis in British society that these laws have become untenable, with former Metropolitan Police Chief Bernard Hogan-Howe urging for reform and, in 2018, Mike Barton, Durham Chief of Police arguing that the prohibition of cannabis damages public safety, puts users in more danger and gives billions of pounds to organised crime and gangsters which in turn drives knife crime and county lines exploitation.

We hope that this film shines a spotlight on the issue and fosters positive debate about cannabis use in Britain.

Enjoy the film. Share it with friends and family and help us put an end to criminalisation of cannabis consumers.  Let’s get the dealers off the streets and into regulated, licensed retailers for a safer, healthier Britain.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 21, 2020 at 11:18 am

Brandon Lewis Does A Grayling

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This government has two big problems that are apparent in every current issue: incompetence and atrocious communications. Brandon’s latest blunder is a prime example.

What an idiotic statement to make.  Not only is it palpably untrue, it’s probably one of the most damaging gaffes ever made by a serving minister.

Nothing in the UK Internal Market Bill is a breach of international law – unless of course you see it from the perspective of the EU and Barnier’s bovver boys. All the bill does is permit ministers to act if the EU itself was to act in a way that breaches the Withdrawal Agreement.  Strictly speaking, they’ve already done this.  The agreement requires that both parties negotitate in good faith to establish further agreements on a whole range of issues, particularly on Northern Ireland and trade.  Barnier hasn’t done this.  In typical high handed style, he’s refused to talk about anything else unless the UK surrenders on fishing.  If he continues in this vein, there won’t be an agreement and UK will have to act to protect it against the EU hijacking parts of Northern Ireland’s trade.

So the bill doesn’t actually do anything at all unless the EU breaks international law first.

Brandon is an idiot.  He’s shown that repeatedly and tagging him with the name of the greatest blunderer of all, Grayling, reminds me that they were both kicked upstairs to be party chairman after an earlier blunder.  That tells you everything you need to know about the Conservative Party, its strategic direction and governance.  It’s a shambles, every bit as much as the Labour Party.

This is a discussion for another day but it’s clear evidence of the woeful standard of all politicans on all sides. Out-of-touch defines pretty much all those who presume to govern us – and useless.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 12, 2020 at 1:23 pm

The Truth About Why The NHS Is Refusing to Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis

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The reason it is impossible to get medicinal cannabis prescribed on the NHS is not really about doctors’ clinical judgement. There are a growing number of doctors that do want to prescribe but they are being blocked by NHS bureaucrats and the senior clinicians that are responsible for drafting professional guidelines.

Although they aren’t law, these guidelines are what NHS Trusts rely on when they refuse to provide funding.  And this is a huge problem, not just for people in pain who can’t get a medicine that they know works, but for the fundamental nature of our democracy and government. The NHS medical establishment is defying the will of Parliament. It is through Parliament that we make policy in this country and MPs have decided that medicinal cannabis should be made available.

This decision was made by Parliament based on medical evidence from around the world that millions of people gain great benefit from cannabis. Of course, the potential side effects were considered and will have been compared with the side effects of other medicines, particularly the highly addictive and life-threatening nature of opioids. Although you wouldn’t know it from all the scaremongering, there are no case reports anywhere in the world of patients receiving cannabis under medical supervision coming to any significant harm. There is no doubt that cannabis is safe as a medicine. Those opposed to it, usually with vested financial interests, are trying to second guess and undermine a decision that has already been made, often with spurious claims of harms caused by smoking it in its most potent form as a recreational drug.

It’s time that the medical establishment complied with the law. That doesn’t mean taking instructions from politicians, it means working constructively to deliver what has been decided, not finding excuse after excuse and being as obstructive as possible.

The senior clinicians responsible for drafting the guidelines, from the Royal Colleges and other professional bodies, notably the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA), are the same people who have failed to provide up-to-date medical education on the endocannabinoid system. This is the system through which cannabis exerts its therapeutic effects and is now known to be the largest and most fundamental neurotransmitter system in the body. Yet it is barely covered at all in any UK medical school. These same people are also responsible for running and supervising the clinical trials that pharmaceutical companies use to prove the safety and efficacy of their new products. For this they receive very substantial fees and long-running sponsorship for their institutions.  The conflict of interest is obvious, yet is being entirely overlooked.

Professor Finbar O’Callaghan of the BPNA has single-handedly obstructed NHS access to cannabis by hundreds of children with epilepsy that conventional treatment does not help. He describes his professional interests as having “particular emphasis on epidemiology and clinical trials“.  If a cannabis-based medicine for paediatric epilepsy was to be trialled, Professor O’Callaghan would very likely be hired for it.  So it’s hardly surprising that he is opposed to any medicine that hasn’t been through a clinical trial!  It’s worth repeating – the conflict of interest is obvious, yet is being entirely overlooked.

Vested interests mean many doctors prefer to prescribe unlimited quantities of opioids, benzodiazepines and senior clinicians are more focused on earning fees from clinical trials than looking at evidence that is already available. We have a regulatory system which is designed by pharma, for pharma, administered by ex-pharma employees and cannabis is a threat. When the UK eventually gets a domestic cannabis production industry, prices will plummet and we will have a safe, cheap, palliative medicine that can help with many conditions.

Most of the 1.4 million people in the UK already using medicinal cannabis are still breaking the law.  This is astonishing when you think our Parliament acted two years ago to ensure they didn’t have to!  This is all down to a combination of arrogance and ignorance in the far-too-hallowed halls of our oldest medical institutions. Like it or not, medicinal cannabis is now legal and is going to take its rightful place as a first choice medicine in Britain. Let’s put aside the prejudice, put patients’ interests first and start delivering the enormous benefits it can offer.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 6, 2020 at 6:05 pm

Posted in Health, Science

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Capone Stanley Reynolds. Never A More Faithful Friend.

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Capone Stanley Reynolds, 2005 – 2020

My darling boy Capone left us at about a quarter to three on Sunday, 9th August 2020.  It was a gorgeous, sunny afternoon and I was sitting with him on the lawn at the back of the house.  I knew his time was near and as I was stroking him, he very calmly and peacefully stopped breathing.  As much as it could be, it was beautiful.

Capone was a very special dog and he will live in my heart until I die.  He came to me in 2007, shortly after I had left London to live in Emsworth, on the south coast between Chichester and Portsmouth. It was his sixteenth year, an extraordinary age for a dog of his size and type.  He was a cross between a German shorthaired pointer and a Staffordshire bull terrier and weighed up to 35 kilos at one point.  He became lame through arthritis in 2014 and put on a lot of weight. From that time on he never walked more than 30 or 40 yards. In his last year that reduced to maybe five or six yards but he always remained cheerful and a vital part of my family.  He leaves a huge hole and while my two younger dogs have taken it in their stride, Carla who came to me only six months after him, is devastated.  She didn’t eat for a week and although she is now recovering, her own time is not far away.  When she goes it will feel very much like the end of an era.  Capone and Carla both knew my parents and memories of staying at Mum and Dad’s with them are strong and precious.

Walking in Chichester Harbour (from Country Walking magazine)

Capone saved my life when he came to live with me. I was depressed and lonely after leaving London where I had been living for more than 12 years.  I needed to get away from an unhealthy lifestyle and a terrible relationship but it was difficult and I was going downhill. He gave me a reason to get up in the morning, walking with him became my therapy and it eventually led me back into writing, which I had lost in the chaos of London life.  For the first time in years I had a piece published, ‘One Walk, Four Seasons’ in Country Walking magazine.  A year later I moved to Dorset and celebrated walking with both my dogs in my blog Paradise Valley, excerpts from which were regularly published in a local newspaper.

Surfing, Bowleaze Cove, Dorset

Surfing, Bowleaze Cove, Dorset

As well as walking, Capone loved swimming.  I would throw a stick from the beach and out he would go to retrieve it, fearlessly, through waves three, four times his height, relentlessly, indomitably and he would insist on going again and again until I almost had to drag him out the water.

Later, out of the blue, Capone developed severe epilepsy and he became my personal experience of the extraordinary power of medicinal cannabis. He would have died at least five years ago were it not for his daily dose of low-THC cannabis oil.  I wrote about his experience in 2016. Eventually it cured him completely of his seizures and in his final months I increased his dosage and it enabled him to live out his last days in comfort.

My mother died over the Christmas period in 2015 and that year her gift to me was a cushion emblazoned with ‘Dogs welcome, people tolerated’. She knew me so well.  Dogs are definitely my favourite sort of people and Capone, without doubt, has been the most important dog in my life.

I buried him in my garden just a few hours later.  My good friend Georgina, her son Paddy and my other three dogs, Carla, Cariad and Kearney stood beside me at the grave and I recall telling them how he was always such a good dog, right from day one he didn’t have to be on a lead.  He would walk faithfully by my side, through a field of sheep, along a busy road through crowds of people, never bothered, never perturbed.  He was as steady as they come, centered and always content by my side, as I was with him.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 22, 2020 at 5:48 pm

Professor Mike Barnes On The Safety Of Cannabis As Medicine

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“Cannabis is remarkably safe.  We know there are some people who shouldn’t be prescribed cannabis. Those, for example, with schizophrenia or psychosis but for the great majority of the population it’s quite safe to prescribe by a responsible doctor who knows and understands cannabis.

We shouldn’t forget, there’s more we know about the safety of cannabis than any other medicine in the history of man.  The reason for that is 165 million people on this earth use cannabis every day for medical, spiritual or recreational purposes. 165 million people. There’s not any pharmaceutical product that could be introduced that has that depth of experience and knowledge of its safety profile. It’s not safe for everyone but it is safe for the great majority and it works for the great majority.  We must try it.”

Source: Professor Mike Barnes, ITV This Morning, 20th August 2020. See: https://youtu.be/aGRPWLY39Pg from 12:41

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 21, 2020 at 11:11 am

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Priti Patel on Poppers Demonstrates How Corrupt and Irrational Is UK Drugs Policy

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Priti Patel wants to legalise ‘poppers’, a drug with dangerous effects on the heart and eyes, in order to help the sex lives of gay men who account for around 3% of the population. Yet she refuses to legalise cannabis, a drug that is generally very safe, even though it can provide real medicinal benefits for 100% of the population.

‘Poppers’ is the well established street name for alkyl nitrites, a type of drug that is inhaled, producing a massive and almost instantaneous ‘hit’ by relaxing ‘smooth muscle’ which results in the dilation of blood vessels in the brain. This leads to a drop in blood pressure which the heart immediately responds to by increasing its rate and so a huge amount of extra blood surges into the brain.  Crucially, another smooth muscle that is affected is the anal sphincter and so the gay male community has found poppers a useful aid to anal sex. They can fairly be described as making anal sex safer and more pleasant, preventing ruptures or tears.

It would be a good thing to legalise poppers and to regulate their production and supply so that use of them is as safe as possible.  Alongside legal regulation, information on harm reduction could be offered and the whole environment surrounding their use could become much more sensible and civilised. It would be a even better thing to legalise cannabis. All the same benefits of safety and the environment would result but they would affect many millions more people.  In addition, the £6 billion criminal cannabis market, which feeds violence, gangsterism, county lines, hard drug dealing, modern slavery and much more serious crime, would be dealt a terminal blow.  It wouldn’t stop immediately but it would be the beginning of the end and it would transform many aspects of British society. I believe the benefits would be much wider and more far reaching than we can even imagine.

So what can possibly explain this move?  Why would such an irrational policy be proposed by the Home Secretary?

Priti Patel is quite possibly a very pleasant woman and she is to be admired for rising to dizzying heights in  political life despite the prejudice towards both her gender and race.  She has an unfortunate manner and glint in her eye that seems to appeal to to the authoritarian side of the ‘nasty party’, probably exactly why Boris Johnson made her Home Secretary to appease the hard right, for he is essentialy a libertarian.  Why is she so keen to move on poppers but not on other drugs where reforming their legal status is far more urgent and would deliver benefits on a far greater scale?

It’s instructive to recall what happened in Parliament when it first seemed that poppers would be banned under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.  Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP and a prominent advocate for drugs policy reform, declared himself a user of poppers and sure enough, within a few weeks the Home Office had found a way to exclude them from the Act.

 

I expect no one would agree more with me than Crispin Blunt on the urgent need for cannabis to be regulated and, indeed for other drugs, far safer than poppers, such as MDMA (ecstasy). Present policy maximises the dangers of all drugs and while a fatal cannabis overdose is impossible, people do die fom MDMA overdoses because in an unregulated, criminal market no one knows the strength of what they are taking.

There can only be one reason why Ms Patel is making this irrational move on poppers and it’s because she has been subject to lobbying, probably from other MPs who hold the same position as Crispin Blunt.

So while I welcome the legal regulation of poppers, cannabis and MDMA should come first.  It’s no surprise that once again our politicians pursue drugs policy that is irrational and corrupt.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm

The Panacea

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Possibly the most frequently heard objection to medicinal use of cannabis is disbelief that one medicine can help with so many different medical conditions. Contempt for this idea most frequently comes from the medical establishment who demonstrate their lack of knowledge of the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

Still not taught in most medical schools, the ECS is now known to be the largest neurotransmitter network in the body which does indeed impact on every other physiological system. It is a scientific fact, still not understood by many doctors, that cannabis can have beneficial effects on virtually every condition and disease.

Cannabis is a palliative medicine but I have no doubt that the curative powers of cannabinoids, which have already been proven in vitro and animal studies, will one day be harnessed into medicines. In different combinations, perhaps with other cannabis compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids, they will successfully treat many cancers, mental health problems, digestive disorders and especially diseases of the immune system.  At this stage though, cannabis is best considered as something that helps us deals with symptoms, particularly chronic pain, mood and sleeping disorders.  In this regard, it is still not properly recognised for the immense benefits it offers, especially that it is so safe, non-toxic and kind to the body and mind.

Cannabis does undoubtedly produce some remarkable curative results. In my judgement these are largely by luck rather than design but cannabis is perhaps the only medicine you can do this with. It is so safe that you can try it and see, experiment with different doses and potentially with different ratios of its many active ingredients.  Very, very few doctors understand this. They are more used to dealing with toxic substances that can produce nasty side effects, which is why they and the NHS bureaucrats who control the purse strings are so dependent on clinical trials. These produce valuable data and safety information for pharmaceutical drugs but it means our physicians have lost the ability to treat patients as individuals, using safe, plant-based therapies.  This wisdom has been swept aside by the pharma industry’s rush for profit and forgotten by many of those who care for us.

So I take the view that cannabis really is a panacea.  Not a cure for everything but a remedy that offers some benefit for every condition.  This relies on another truth that is difficult for the medical establishment to deal with – cannabis is not one medicine but many, perhaps hundreds of different combinations of ingredients, beyond just THC and CBD, beyond terpenes and flavonoids, perhaps including omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, essential amino acids, esters, glycosides, enzymes, proteins, sugars, alcohols, ketones, lactones, aldehydes – all the constituents of this remarkable plant. It is this complexity, of course, that makes clinical trials unsuitable for cannabis and its inherent safety that makes them unnecessary.

But I have my personal panacea.  It is made by a good friend who in his professional life produces some of the finest, whole plant, low-THC, high-CBD oils.  In his spare time he turns his lab to more interesting, illicit products.  You will be surprised to learn that my panacea is not a high-THC rocket fuel but a 3:1 ratio CBD:THC blend.  It is a happiness tonic, soothing pain reliever, gentle sleep enhancer and gorgeous elixir for all the aches, pains and complaints of my 63rd year.

I know that if little bottles of this were on pharmacy and supermarket shelves they would sell like hot cakes.  Six drops in a cup of coffee in the morning or hot chocolate before bed – it’s bliss, delight, comfort and it just enhances and smoothes life without any downside, no hangover or side effects at all. Of course, with that ratio it’s completely benign and would be even for an inexperienced cannabis consumer.  When products like this become legally available they will benefit hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Those early into the market will probably make a fortune if they can advertise and communicate its benefits effectively.  The really wonderful aspect though is that this can be as cheap as chips.  Made in volume it could sell for just a few pounds, euros or dollars a bottle that will last for weeks.  It really is a panacea although currently, stupidly, in this crazy world we live in, highly illegal.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 15, 2020 at 1:29 pm

This Is America

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June 1, 2020 at 2:16 pm

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If the Mobs on Twitter and Facebook Want to Persecute Someone, Why Don’t They Choose a Deserving Case?

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For instance, what about Professor Finbar O’Callaghan, who has prevented children having access to cannabis medicine for epilepsy while making his living running £ multi-million clinical trials of pharmaceutical drugs?

These are the sort of people who should be hunted down and villified, not some weird eccentric who is a behind the scenes political adviser making private decisions about his own family.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 24, 2020 at 9:42 am

Facebook Moderation and Censorship AKA ‘Community Standards’ Going Haywire

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It may be automated systems going wrong or it may be another misguided crackdown on legitimate

posts but as usual with Facebook it’s impossible to get any answers, explanation or guidance.

The CLEAR team has run a Facebook page now for 10 years.  According to Facebook data it’s the second most ‘liked’ page on cannabis and drugs policy and its ‘engagement’ is usually in the top three of all similar pages worldwide.

We’ve experienced everything crazy that Facebook has thrown us over those 10 years.  But in the past few weeks the inexplicable and quite ridiculous censorship has reached new levels.

Over the years, our page has been hijacked three or four times by breaches in Facebook’s (not CLEAR’s) security. On each occasion it has taken up to a month to regain control which has involved endless unanswered messages and emails.  Most recently Facebook has required notarised statements and evidence to restore control to our admins even though they have 10 years history on record.  On one occasion, whilst the page was out of our control, Facebook took no notice at all of a stream of hardcore porn videos that were posted day after day.

Facebook’s attitude to cannabis and drugs policy is wildly inconsistent. It goes through periods of not taking any notice at all to what’s happening at present, which is where even the most innocuous mentions get sanctioned.  Even links to academic, scientific and medical papers or research get removed on the basis that they are ‘promoting drug use’ or even more absurd, ‘selling drugs’.

Today, it has removed one post in which Lisa Quarrell has been told that the NHS will not pay for her son’s medicinal cannabis because she had previously ‘gone private’ to obtain it and it would be an ‘improper use of NHS funds’.  It has also removed a post about a designer who has been ordered to pay Starbucks $500,000 because he designed a bong that looks like a Starbucks coffee cup.

Peter Reynolds was recently blocked from posting, first for three days and then for seven days for posting a meme inviting subscriptions to our email newsletter, the CLEAR Daily News.  This, apparently, is ‘selling drugs’.  We’ve been posting exactly the same meme regularly for over two years with no problem at all.

What’s really worrying is that two long online ‘chats’ with Facebook concierge support (available to advertisers) achieved nothing except for mindless repetition that the post ‘goes against community standards’.  These are real people constrained to the role and inteligence of a bot, unable to think or exercise any discretion.

Meanwhile the endless, lunatic, conspiracy theories on vaccines, Bill Gates, 5G, coronavirus, etc. fill up the newsfeed.  Reports indicate that child porn,  fraudulent scams, misuse of celebrities’ images, terrorist ideology and violence are still not under control.

Facebook is an essential tool for any business, NGO or campaign.  You simply have to be on it. It’s a monopoly that is out of control.  In reality it seems to have more power over governments and regulators than they have over it. It needs to be broken up. The fact that it is also Instagram and WhatsApp is a ridiculous state of affairs.  How have Zuckerberg and his bots been able to get away with this?  Their ‘community standards’ or at least the enforcement are clearly an abuse of US constitutional rights and that is the only jurisdiction of which they take any notice.

CLEAR has put many tens of thousands of pounds into Facebook advertising.  Pages now have to pay if they want to reach their followers.  Before the algorithms changed all our posts would reach thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands. In the last couple of years in many instances that has gone down to single figures. All the time, money and expertise we have invested in Facebook is being wasted.  We have been cheated out of it by this out-of-control, arrogant monolith.  As of this week our executive committee has stopped all Facebook advertising for good. It’ll make no difference to Facebook of course, until thousands of others do the same thing but we are not going to give them any more of our members’ money.

We will continue to do our best to bring our followers the news in the face of this draconian censorship.  All our posts are also on Twitter which is in many ways (not always!) a better and more adult forum but, of course, it’s very unfocused and inflexible.  The minute that there is a viable alternative to Facebook, CLEAR will be off.  It’s a phenomenon that has run its course. We need more intelligently managed and properly regulated online media to communicate through.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 9, 2020 at 2:11 pm