Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Big Pharma Plugs Weed

with 13 comments

God's Herb

The news that Sativex, a whole plant extract of cannabis,  was approved as a medicine in the UK was welcome, of course.

But £125 for 10 ml, two teaspoons – please!

According to Sativex’ prescribing information, each 1 ml contains 27mg of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol  (THC), that’s the magical ingredient.  So in each spray that’s £125 for 270mg of THC.

At today’s extortionate street price of £10 per gram, good weed contains about 12% THC.  So that’s £10 for 120mg of THC.

At Big Pharma prices you get stoned for 46p/mg.  On the street you get high for 8p/mg.

Draw your own conclusions but please, do check my figures.  Let me know if you disagree.

13 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Peter Reynolds, Peter Reynolds. Peter Reynolds said: Big Pharma Plugs Weed: […]

  2. Pretty good numbers– but maybe double the needed dosage of weed because if you smoke that gram of street cannabis, you will lose half of the THC to sidestream smoke. Still, I agree, pharma is railroading patients with this crap in greedy, criminal fashion. Real cannabis is better for patients, anyway; a patient may only need half as much weed gram-for-gram versus Sativex, so it may all come out in the wash, even Stephen.
    So, I take that back, I think your numbers are dead-on.


    July 16, 2010 at 2:38 pm

  3. Good piece, and thank you for raising awareness and pointing out the hypocrisy of it all.

    Cannabis has been schedule 1 for 80 years, meaning, “it has no medical value” and yet, we now have this miracle drug from the government called sativex… thank you, thank you so much government! You saved us and created a miracle from a plant that has all bad the bad effects and none of the good. How on earth did you do that? A process that I can pretty much do at home? Oh, oh I see.

    Oh, it’s a bit of a kicker that all GPs have been told to NOT prescribe. In fact, famously a lady went on hunger strike for 6 days to get her MS suffering husband the drug. Democracy is great is it not, thank goodness we have a government that protects us so.

    Still, cannabis has no medical value, so what do we expect, you can’t prescribe something that harms us so…

    “My professional view of cannabis as a substance is that it appears to be a remarkably safe substance in comparison to most medicines prescribed today. The more I learn about this plant the more fascinated I become. It has through its various constituents multiple effects of therapeutic interest, many of which are now being validated by the enormous growth in basic cannabinoid research.” – Dr Geoffrey Guy, Chairman of GW Pharmaceuticals.

    Thank you Peter for your work on this. My story was blogged by Mark Reckons:

    Suffice to say, I am about ready to explode on this subject, it’s a pleasure and sanity saver to have outlets and people like yourself. All my best Peter.


    July 31, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    • Thank you so much for your valuable and interesting comment. If you go here you’ll find a lot more that I’ve written on the subject:

      I am very keen to try and get a proper UK medicinal cannabis campaign going. No one has ever addressed this issue properly here. Professionally presented it is an incontestable argument.

      Case studies of users/patients are the easy part. What we need are medical practitioners, scientists, qualified professionals, authority/celebrity figures.

      Can you help? Who do you know who can help?

      Peter Reynolds

      July 31, 2010 at 9:05 pm

  4. Hiya Peter.

    Thank you for the articles and the work, as you know, very much appreciated to say the least!

    The medical cannabis issue is certainly dear to my heart. I’ve been actively campaigning for awareness incessantly this year, and to little avail. The media do not wish to take up the baton; I’ve been chasing the shadows of the famed Debra Bell: ( I thought the flip side of the argument may be welcomed in the media, alas, no, not even a rejection response.
    You’ll find even the most compassionate of celebrity champions do not wish to even re-tweet anything with the word cannabis in tow, let alone to champion a campaign. Eyes and ears are fortified. It is simply an untouchable subject, this is why I feel such gratitude to people who show an interest and why my faith in the country is rock bottom. The slog is an arduous one, and one that is unrequited. As I have said, it’s not great for personal dignity.

    I have a few American contacts, Dr. Lester Grinspoon Professor Emeritus of Harvard Medical School being the nicest and most respected, his work and legacy is second to none… but with regards to the UK, I am still seeking the elusive contacts. Professor Nutt has been a very kind man though, as busy as he is/was, he still took time to show empathy and still continues to fight the bigger picture. I’m sure you know his blog and site:

    I hope to start my own blog soon to document my findings, fights, and to relay the personal plight of my loved ones who have to endure my one track mind’s ramblings.

    Once more, thank you for the continuing work on this encompassing subject matter!


    August 3, 2010 at 3:02 am

    • Jason, I wrote to Debra Bell myself only a couple of months ago on 15th June 2010:

      Dear Ms Bell,

      I am truly sorry for the trouble you experienced with your son but I am dismayed at the gross distortion of the truth which your campaign is based on.

      With respect, your arguments are no more credible or sensible than the “Reefer Madness” propaganda put about by Randolph Hearst in the early part of the last century, the idea that smoking weed made white girls promiscuous with black men. That campaign was all about promoting the oil industry and has resulted in the destruction and pollution of our planet that we see today.

      You are entirely misguided in your campaign. Thank God there are many, many more people and websites campaigning for the legalisation of cannabis rather than your retrograde, hopeless and quite ludicrous ideas.

      Hopefully, the new coalition is going to adopt the LibDem’s drug policy that is forward thinking, constructive and based on facts, not sensationalist scaremongering. That policy is closely aligned to the Transform Drug Policy Foundation which I recommend to you:

      May I also refer you to three articles I have written myself:

      You are, of course, entitled to your views and I am genuinely sorry for the problems your family has experienced. There are, however, thousands of people working towards the very opposite of what you want to achieve. We feel increasingly confident that we are getting much closer to achieving our aims.

      Please think again about your campaign. It is not in the best interests of other families and young people in this country. Even King Canute eventually realised that he could not hold back the tide and, believe me, it is running strongly against you.

      Kind regards,

      Peter Reynolds

      Peter Reynolds

      August 3, 2010 at 10:52 am

    • I think you’re too pessimistic about the British media. I haven’t seen it yet but Channel 4 had the first episode of “Our Drugs War” on last night. The Times had a DPS the weekend before last on medical marijuana and Proposition 19 in California. If, as looks likely, Prop 19 is passed in November it will open up the subject again.

      I really believe that medicinal cannabis is the way forward for cannabis campaigners. The discoveries about the importance of the endocannabinoid system are coming thick and fast now. Clearly, GW Pharma must have some doctors enthusiastic about Sativex. It’ll be keeping that information close to its chest but we need to find out who they are.

      You’re right that few people have any guts at all about being seen to support cannabis. Sting, of course, has put his name forward against the war on drugs as has Paul Macartney. We need someone of this sort of status as a figurehead and lots of doctors and scientists as well.

      Peter Reynolds

      August 3, 2010 at 1:03 pm

  5. […] If marijuana is not useful, then why does the British Health service provide another pharmaceutical derived from cannabis to their patients?? […]

  6. I think you may be selling GWP short on the nature of their product. You are of course right in that it is only an extract of the plant. However, hasn’t GWP carefully bred a plant specifically for its anti-spasmodic molecules – while reducing the amount of THC?

    What I haven’t yet seen or heard is personal testimony from MS sufferers comparing the GWP tincture to what has been available to them otherwise.

    ken wiederhorn

    January 19, 2011 at 9:57 pm

    • Ken, please check out some California or Colorado medical marijuana dispensaries. It’s easy to google them. Choosing your blend of THC and CBD is run of the mill stuff now. What GW is doing is pretty standard horticultural practice. They then grind and mix together two strains to produce their blend. You’ll probably be amazed at the choice of herbal products available, each with lab certificates giving the results of analysis. Then you can have the hash made from that or the oil or the edibles – cakes, flapjacks, cereal bars, each with detailed labelling of provenance, constituents, processing, etc

      I think five minutes googling will blow your mind Ken!

      Peter Reynolds

      January 19, 2011 at 10:09 pm

  7. also consider that the “low” street price is still way higher than actual production expenses of cannabis… usually you can calculate in “gram per watt” starting with 400W HPS lamp on one square meter… 🙂

    cost-effectice commercial sales are likely to start in canada first, die to their recent court decision, followed by dispensaries in the US…
    but Sativex is way to expensive – even Dronabinol isn’t that much in Germany…


    June 7, 2011 at 10:33 am

  8. Is there a way to get Sativex in the USA?? It is urgent as it is the only choice with FM patients in pain…


    September 2, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    • Actually I am desperately looking for it, as a Friend really needs it 😦 tks!


      September 2, 2011 at 10:10 pm

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