Peter Reynolds

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Don’t Believe a Word the FSA Says About CBD.

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It’s reported in The Times and the Daily Mail today that many CBD products must be withdrawn from sale because of ‘safety concerns’. This follows a week of slavish repetition in the media of the FSA’s line that its publication of a list of 3,500 products that ‘might’ be authorised in the future is a “milestone” for the industry.

To be more accurate, it’s the line it’s devised in conjunction with the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), the most recently formed trade association in the sector which, although repesenting only about 20 of the hundreds of CBD companies, now has privileged access and preferential treatment with the FSA. There is no doubt that the relationship between the two is improper and possibly corrupt. Dishonesty, deceit and underhand behaviour have been in play for at least the past year in order to give ACI and its members a commercial advantage and help the FSA create, on the basis of zero credible evidence, a massively expensive system that benefits no one else except its bureaucracy, least of all consumers.

This is nothing to do with safety. There are no reports from anywhere in the world at any time of anyone coming to any harm from CBD products.

The safety scare is entirely invented by the FSA in order to build its massive new, wholly unnecessary bureaucracy. They have been supported and encouraged by the ACI, most of its members dealing primarily in nasty, ineffective isolate products, not the ‘whole plant’ products which millions of people have found great benefit from.

CBD isolate needs to be taken at doses at least 10 times greater than whole plant products, doesn’t work anywhere near as well and because of the huge doses often causes stomach upsets.

This is a classic case of big business using financial muscle and influence to get the regulator to apply misguided, massively expensive over-regulation which squeezes out the smaller suppliers and bloats the bureaucracy.

It’s corrupt and the people who are harmed by it are consumers.

What was a fantastic British success story is being destroyed by vested interests squashing the small businesses that created the market.

The CBD market does need better regulation and the two longstanding trade associations, the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) and CannaPro, had implemented very effective self-regulation of their members. What that needed to work was for the two regulators concerned, the FSA and the MHRA, to crack down on the unregulated end of the market but they both failed dismally to fulfil their responsibilities. The MHRA simply washed its hands of its duty to enforce the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, which meant widespread, unlawful claims of medical benefit from cowboy traders. The FSA spurned all the work that CTA and CannaPro had done with it over the previous five years and formed its unlawful relationship with the multimillionaire backers of ACI.

There are just two issues which need addressing in regulating CBD products: what the products contain and how they are marketed. This is the effective and inexpensive approach that CTA and CannaPro were taking and is explained in detail in this article published a year ago: The FSA’s Intervention in the CBD Market is a Farce. Here’s the Clear and Simple Solution.

The effect of the FSA’s action has already been to destroy many small businesses and hundreds of jobs. What lies ahead is a two-tier market: the FSA/ACI ‘authorised products’ which will be ineffective, isolate-based and available in high street chains; and ‘real’ whole plant CBD products, which are what work and what consumers want, operating in a black market, either online or through independent retailers.

Don’t buy CBD isolate products. You will be wasting your money.

Update on the Food Standards Agency’s CBD Fiasco

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At midday today the FSA will publish a ‘public list’ of 3500 CBD products on its website.

What does it mean? What are the products? Does this mean they are legally allowed to be on sale?

These and many other questions come to mind, as a result of which I arranged an online meeting this morning with Paul Tossell, Team Leader on Novel Foods with the FSA.

I only became aware of today’s announcement because I heard from a journalist friend that there was an advance media briefing yesterday. You may well ask and I certainly did, why were the media being briefed before the industry? My roles in CLEAR, CannaPro, the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) and my past role in the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) mean that I am well established, along with others, as a stakeholder. Yet, neither I nor anyone else in any of the trade bodies have been contacted by the FSA – except that is, of course, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and its sister organisation, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC). That is no surprise at all to anyone who knows the history of the FSA’s blunder into the CBD market. It has an improper relationship with ACI/CMC and the three of them have conspired together to create an absurd bureaucracy of vastly expensive but wholly unnecessary regulations which no doubt give preferential status to the few, large companies, mostly in the CBD isolate business, which are associated with ACI/CMC.

My meeting with Paul Tossell followed exactly the same format as all the other meetings I have had with him and his colleagues over the past years. It was a monologue. I couldn’t get a word in edgeways and all Tossell was interested in was very long, very turgid, pointless explanations of the FSA’s process. He wouldn’t answer any of my questions properly.

This is what I have learned.

None of the 3500 products on the list are ‘legal’ in the FSA’s terms and Trading Standards may remove and confiscate any of them at any time. All 3500 are the result of just five novel foods applications which have been ‘validated’ and 65 applications which have not yet been ‘validated’ but look like they are ‘work in progress’ towards providing the information necessary for validation.

Apparently the purpose of the list is to help Trading Standards set its priorities for enforcement. So if a product isn’t on the list it stands no chance of ever being officially ‘legal’. In fact, as has been obvious all along and as I now have from a source right at the top of Trading Standards, it doesn’t have the resources or the intention of going after CBD products. It has far more important things to do, such as going after products which genuinely are dangerous.

As anyone who knows me will confirm, I am no shy and retiring type but I had to be extremely forceful and insistent to try and get a couple of key questions to Tossell, neither of which were answered.

Firstly, what is the basis for this intervention, what evidence do you have that these products can be harmful? This was dismissed as “You’ve got it the wrong way round.” He’d already said that “Consumers need to know the product is safe, that’s the whole point of this.” I couldn’t get any answer and of course the truth is there is no evidence of any danger, or of anyone ever coming to any harm. All Tossell can do is repeatedly refer back to his bureaucratic process which is entirely for its own sake and has no substantive purpose.

My second question was that the scope of novel foods was originally defined by the FSA as being about products that are selective extracts from cannabis. As I’ve been asking for years, what about genuine whole plant extracts which are non-selective extracts? Back came the same old non-answer, side-stepping the question and referring to cold pressed products. When I pressed him that other methods of extraction could be non-selective, he simply denied this and refused to discuss it any further, saying it had been “settled” two years ago.

Novel food applications which have been ‘validated’ will still need to go through further processes. Risk assessment where an independent scientific body will give an opinion. Then risk management where any necessary actions will be determined and finally, extraordinarily, every single product which is to be determined as ‘legal’ will have to be named in a Statutory Instrument which will have to be passed into law by Parliament.

The absurdity and pointlessness of all this is beyond doubt but it is more serious than that. The only evidence on which the FSA’s concern for any harm is based is experiments on rats by GW Pharmaceuticals with its CBD isolate medicine, Epidiolex, administered at doses hundreds or thousands of times the equivalent in humans. And the conflict of interest is obvious. I am no enemy of GW, on the contrary I admire the company and its work but it has the only licensed CBD medicine and its interest would be to restrict access to non-licensed products.

Also, it is my honest opinion that the relationship between the FSA and ACI/CMC is corrupt. Dishonesty, deceit and obfusaction are being used for the purposes of gain, both in a commercial sense and for the sake of bureaucratic power.

All that the FSA’s intervention in the CBD market will achieve, aside from the enormous damage to businesses and jobs, is to promote the black market. For consumers the situation is only going to get worse. They will have the choice of ‘legal’ but useless, ineffective, isolate-based products or the wild west of totally unregulated products, some of which are the ‘real thing’ but many of which are produced and marketed by cowboys.

I set out a year ago the two very simple steps which, taken together, will completely solve the regulatory requirements for the CBD market.

The FSA’s actions are without any real purpose. The novel foods regulations are solely for their own sake and establish a pointless bureaucratic process at huge expense which will only make things worse for consumers.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 31, 2022 at 11:50 am

Still ‘Insufficient Evidence’ for the NHS to Fund Medicinal Cannabis – or What’s it Really About?

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The laboratory evidence for medicinal cannabis is through the roof in proof of efficacy and safety. The observational clinical evidence is also conclusive.

The evidence that is ‘lacking’ is that which fits in with the medical establishment’s well-established formula for making senior clinicians rich. The same doctors that write the guidelines are the ones who earn the very fat fees for running clinical trials and decide which evidence is valid and which isn’t. When the Royal Colleges and the professional medical bodies have worked out a way to get cannabis under their control, suddenly all the evidence will be OK. Then the committees and advisory boards that these same doctors sit on will turn on the NHS funding tap.

Until then, doctors are frightened of cannabis. A medicine that works, that is safer than virtually all the pills you can buy over-the-counter and has powerful, beneficial effects for a very wide range of conditions is a real threat to vested interests and doctors’ status. It shakes their world and so they are eager to disparage it, exaggerate its risks and diminish its efficacy.

Only when the medical establishment understands how its pre-eminence is going to be maintained, knows where fees and prestige are coming from, then cannabis will be ‘discovered’ by the NHS and all the benefits to patients and in reduced costs will follow.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 27, 2022 at 10:21 am

The Crazy Conspiracy Theories that Undermine the Cannabis Campaign

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No, Theresa May’s husband does not own the largest cannabis farm in Europe. No, ‘the government’ is not growing cannabis, exporting it all over the world, making millions from it while denying it to British people. No, you do not have to be a Tory donor to get a licence to grow cannabis. No, MPs do not have investments in cannabis companies which is why prices are so high. No, the former drugs minister, Victoria Atkins MP, did not give her husband a licence to grow cannabis.

These and an almost limitless variety of permutations of the same ideas are endlessly repeated on social media and it’s reached the stage where one version or another is regarded as fact by many people.

These ideas do us no favours. The don’t prove some massive conspiracy about cannabis in the government, Parliament or amongst the wealthy elite because they are simply fake. They make fools of us all and play straight into the hands of prohibitionists who paint cannabis consumers as paranoid fantasists with wild obsessions about imaginary conspiracies and plots.

Sadly, on the last point, from what I’ve seen over the past year in particular, they’re right – at least to some degree about some people!

Of course, they arise because it genuinely is impossible to see any rhyme, reason or common sense about the way that cannabis is handled in the UK. With the exceptions of France, Ireland and Sweden, Britain has the most backwards, regressive and irrational position on cannabis and wider drugs policy of any country in Europe.

It’s inevitable that people will try to look for explanations and because there is dishonesty in drugs policy, because the Home Office has been lying to us about the harms of cannabis for at least 50 years, people develop extraordinary theories that are enhanced if you’ve just had a couple of big hits off your bong.

The trick though, which is what anyone who understands anything about psychology will tell you, is that in each of them, at the root is a tiny grain of truth which has been distorted, exaggerated and falsified until it becomes, apparently, a massive scandal. So much so, that even as I have done many times, you explain in great detail why some particular theory is fake, the response is often ‘no smoke without fire, ‘there must be some truth in it’.

But all these conspiracy theories do is dissipate our energy, divert our focus and attention, distract us from the real story and actually obscure what is more about cock-up, cowardice and stupidity than any grand plan. The reason this government, just like the last Labour government, maintains the prohibition of cannabis, is mainly about ignorance and fear. They don’t believe that it is something their core supporters want to see changed and although many senior politicians fully understand the arguments, the idea of explaining why reform is a good idea looks like far too much hard work and for what?

Don’t be fooled that it’s all about the ‘effing Tories’. Labour has a far worse record on drugs policy. It was Margaret Thatcher who first introduced clean needle exchange when HIV/AIDS first struck. She was a scientist by training and understood the value of evidence. Note that that there is a dearth of scientific training amongst current members of both Houses of Parliament. It was Gordon Brown, Labour PM, who reclassified cannabis upwards to class B in 2009, basically on the instructions of Paul Dacre, editor of the Daily Mail. And it was Alan Johnson, Labour Home Secretary, who sacked Professor Nutt for stating the scientific facts that cannabis and MDMA are much less dangerous than alcohol, tobacco – and even horse riding. And finally, most surprising of all, it was Theresa May and Sajid Javid, Conservative PM and Home Secretary respectively, who legalised medicinal cannabis in 2018 Solely, of course, because of public outcry over incredibly emotive stories of small children with epilepsy.

Jacob Rees-Mogg. Stoned out of his tiny mind.

Of course there are MPs, mostly Conservatives, who have investment portfolios and, within the confines of the law, may well have investments in cannabis companies. It’s perfectly legal for anyone to invest in cannabis companies both in the UK and abroad, although not to being any profits back to the UK if they’re from activities that would be illegal here – such as producing and selling recreational cannabis. Great store has been made of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s alleged investments in cannabis but although there are few more odious MPs, there really isn’t any substance worth bothering about in these allegations. In 2007, he was one of the founders of Somerset Capital Management but he now owns less than 15% of it and plays no active role. It has been involved in advising on investments in Canada’s cannabis industry so, by a convoluted route, it is possible that some of the profits from fees earned on this advice have made their way back into his pocket but there’s no evidence at all that he had any involvement.

The Theresa May’s husband’s story has been invented because he, Philip May, is a mid-ranking employee of Capital Group, another investment company which at one point was the largest shareholder in GW Pharmaceuticals, owning about $300 million in its shares. GW’s sub-contractor, British Sugar, does run the largest cannabis farm in Europe at its Wissington glasshouse in Norfolk. But there’s no evidence at all and nothing even to suggest that Philip May had anything to do with it. And you have to put it in context. Capital Group’s investments exceed $2 trillion and it has owned $20 billion of Amazon shares, $2 billion of Starbucks, $5 billion of McDonald’s and $1.5 billion in Ryanair. It’s GW investment was tiny, insignificant and now it doesn’t own any shares in it at all.

And yes, it’s true. British Sugar’s managing director, Paul Kenward, is marrid to Victoria Atkins MP, who was drugs minister for a short time but its licence to grow cannabis was issued before she was even an MP.

Paul Kenward with a big, fat, badly-photoshopped bud

The biggest problem that all this nonsense creates is that it destroys the credibility of the cannabis campaign. If we want to see progress the people we have to persuade aren’t cannabis consumers and that is, of course, the majority. They already have various perceptions, mostly negative, of those of us that do enjoy cannabis. Most of these are thanks to the government-originated propaganda, gratefully published and exaggerated by the tabloid press and most of them revolve around the idea that cannabis causes mental health problems. These wild, evidence-free conspiracy theories appear to confirm this idea.

So please, stop it! Put your energy into something worthwhile and effective. Write to your MP. Arrange to meet them and explain in calm, respectful terms why cannabis matters to you and why you want to see the law reformed.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

January 4, 2022 at 7:42 pm

IRELAND. Politicians And Gardai Who Want To Keep Cannabis Banned are on the Same Side as the Drugs Gangsters.

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In Ireland, 90% of people support the use of cannabis for medical purposes and, remarkably, nearly a third support legalisation for recreational use. So cannabis is very popular indeed. A great deal of money is spent on it, all of which goes into the pockets of criminals. Some are just friends of friends and not really causing any harm but move a step or two up the chain and right to the top it’s gangsters and organised crime. What they earn from cannabis goes into funding far more serious criminal activity with violence never far away. And the largely futile efforts to stop the cannabis trade cost Irish taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros.

So why isn’t the government taking action to enable access for medical use, to regulate an adult use market, save hundreds of millions of euros and pull the rug from underneath organised crime?

Evidence from other jurisdictions proves beyond doubt that a regulated market would remove most of the trade from criminals, cut related crime, protect consumers, control the stength and quality of the product and reduce all harms.

So why do they do nothing? Why do they refuse even to engage with the public on the subject?

You’d think they actually choose to be on the same side as the gangsters. I doubt that’s the case but the end result is the same: Micheál Martin; Leo Varadkar; Frank Feighan, the drugs minister; Eamon Ryan, whose party claims to support drugs reform; every member of the government and their officials, including Commissioner Drew Harris, stand right alongside the Hutch mob, the Kinahans and the other peddlers in misery and violence.

What’s most remarkable is that even the government’s efforts to meet public demand for medical access have been nothing short of pathetic. Four years after the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) was announced, it is still not operational. In fact it’s nothing but a joke and, short of an outright ban, is the most restrictive medicinal cannabis programme of any nation anywhere in the world. It raises all sorts of important questions why the Irish medical establishment has such well organised opposition to medicinal cannabis and simply dismisses the vast amount of evidence in favour.  Ireland is isolated in this backwards and cruel policy.

Several large multinationals have tried to invest millions of euros in developing a medicinal cannabis industry, which would create hundreds of new, well paid jobs. But regulators at the Department of Health and Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) block and endlessly delay as if those are their instructions.

The Irish goverment’s policy on cannabis is confused, irrational and impossible to understand. The bottom line is that it is opaque and no one will respond or engage on the subject. That usually means they have something to hide. It could just be that they recognise their own incompetence on the issue. Or it could be something more sinister.

The Irish Cannabis Market.

According to the 2019–20 Irish National Drug and Alcohol Survey, 20.7% of 15-64 year olds have consumed cannabis in their lifetime and 7.1% report recent use, that’s nearly 300,000 people. Cannabis valued at €15.2 million was seized by Gardai in 2020 although based on typical valuations by law enforcement this is certainly an over-valuation.

Based on research carried out in the UK, adjusted pro rata for population size, the value of the cannabis market in Ireland is estimated at a minimum of €225 million and possibly as much as €675 million. It is costing the Irish state a great deal of time and money in law enforcement costs. Drug offences account for 11% of all recorded offences and of these nearly 69% are for personal possession most of which are for cannabis. With a €3 billion budget for justice in 2021 drug law enforcement would appear to cost around €330 million, most of which is for cannabis.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 14, 2021 at 6:32 pm

Dame Carol Black’s Review of Drugs. A Missed Opportunity To Speak Truth to Power

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Dame Carol Black

There is some useful work in Dame Carol’s review but by definition it was only ever about supporting current strategy. She was constrained from the beginning by the terms of reference which stated: “The review will not consider changes to the existing legislative framework or government machinery.”

Given such an absurd restriction, I wonder why any self-respecting expert in policy would take on the role? At best it could only ever advise on tweaks and adjustments rather than the fundamental changes that are urgently needed.

It’s clear that drugs cause harms in our society.  They cause health harms to individuals, particularly in the case of the legally regulated drugs alcohol and tobacco but other drugs cause far more harms as a result of the illegal, unregulated markets through which they are produced and distributed.  These are called social harms but there is not a clear dividing line.  For instance, drugs produced illicitly are of unknown strength, purity and consumers cannot know whether they are contaminated with other, perhaps more harmful substances.

So treatment for addiction and dependency, which is what most of Dame Carol’s review focuses on, is essential and is scandalously under-resourced.  This is an entirely false economy as the consequences are devastating for our society.  As Dame Carol writes: “The drugs market is driving most of the nation’s crimes: half of all homicides and half of acquisitive crimes are linked to drugs. People with serious drug addiction occupy one in three prison places.”

Politicians don’t put sufficient resources into drug treatment because they are fools and their failure is based on stigma and lack of vision. They don’t think such funding wins votes. Why should people who aren’t consumers of street heroin or cocaine fund healthcare for people who have a problem they have brought on themselves and for which they broken the law in the process?

This indicates the very low opinion that our so-called leaders have of the electorate.  Of course there are people who hold such a short-sighted view and believe it’s not their problem and some even take the same view about those who suffer health harms from the legally regulated drugs, alcohol and tobacco.  But these people are in the minority and if politicians paid them the respect and took the time to explain how intelligent policy can benefit us all, then this nasty and self-defeating attitude would very quickly all but disappear.



So any rational person with even a modicum of foresight must support Dame Carol’s call for increased funding, better co-ordination and accountability between government departments.  She also writes that “A whole-system approach is needed, with demand reduction a key component, to drive down the profitability of the market.”  This is where the logic, usefulness and validity of her review begins to fall down, in large part because of those idiotic constraints placed on her that she cannot propose “changes to the existing legislative framework or government machinery”.

Of course, no one in their right mind aspires to a lifestyle of addiction and dependency which dominates their life and inhibits fulfilment and success.  Substantial reduction in demand can be achieved through properly funded treatment. We should aspire to turning round the lives of the majority of the 300,000 problematic consumers of opiates and cocaine.  To do this we need to understand more effectively how and why their drugs consumption works.

Addiction to opiates shares the same dreadful reality as addiction to alcohol, that stopping or withdrawing from regular use is difficult, can be very dangerous and causes its own health harms.  Cocaine is different.  It’s not really addiction in the same sense, it’s more about compulsive behaviour. If you stop, after initial recovery from the tiredness and destructive lifestyle you will, quite quickly, begin to feel better. 

Where Dame Carol’s review falls over and becomes a little ridiculous is when she writes: “We can no longer, as a society, turn a blind eye to recreational drug use. A million people use powder cocaine each year and the market is worth around £2 billion. The vast majority of users do not see themselves as having a drug problem and they are unlikely to come forward for treatment.”

These people, alongside the vast majority of consumers of MDMA (ecstasy), cannabis and most other currently prohibited drugs are not suffering any health harms.  With very few exceptions, the only significant harms around their drug consumption are those caused by the criminal markets which current legislation has created.  The drugs themselves are, in most cases, far less harmful to health than the legally regulated drugs, alcohol and tobacco. 

The glaring error in Dame Carol’s review, forced on her by the constraints, that show her work to be propaganda in supporting an already failed policy, is when she writes “they are causing considerable harm to others through the supply chain, both here and abroad.”

This is a staggeringly irrational and biased statement, contrived to shift the blame from failed policy and irresponsible ministers onto drugs consumers.  You cannot blame consumers for the harms caused by politicians’ failure to regulate drugs markets.

In every other aspect of life we rightly expect government to act to protect us and keep us safe.  This is why we have speed limits, safety belts, MOT tests, why other forms of transport such as trains and aeroplanes are strictly regulated.  This is why alcohol, tobacco and also food are subject to regulation, why sports have governing bodies that set rules and standards to keep participants safe.

We know from history the consequences of prohibiting alcohol which gave rise to the first gangsters and we have stumbled into the same dystopia by prohibiting drugs.  When alcohol was banned in the USA and consumption went underground, people stopped drinking wine and beer, preferring high-strength, much more harmful, often contaminated hooch.  The ultimate perversion of government’s responsibility was when it started to poison illicit supplies in an effort to deter consumption.  We are on exactly the same path now with drugs.  It is a path that will lead to greater criminality, more harm, more death, misery, ruined lives, massive expenditure, crime and the degradation of our society.  This is where current drugs policy is taking us and Dame Carol Black’s review supports this stupidity.

I cannot believe that an intelligent, experienced woman like Dame Carol would not recommend changes in current policy had she been allowed.  What we desperately need is people in her position to have the courage to defy the stupidity of government minsters and speak the truth, the whole truth.  All drugs must be legally regulated in direct relation to their potential for health harms.

Thus, alcohol, tobacco, opiates and cocaine, while legally available to minimise the criminal market, must be under strict control. In my view, with its well established place in our society, the sale of alcohol should be permitted in far fewer outlets.  There should be quantity limits.  It is crazy that in a supermarket you can only but two packs of painkillers but as many cases of whisky as you want.

Opiates should be on prescription only, with compulsory therapy but much easier to access so that those with a problem get their clean supply of known strength from a pharmacy, not from a gangster-controlled dealer.  Necessary funding for treatment must be in place but there will not be a surge of demand. Most people don’t want to use heroin!

Cocaine, which is not really any more harmful than alcohol, in some ways less, should be available to adults in restricted quantity and frequency for registered consumers from pharmacies.

At the other end of the health harm scale, cannabis and MDMA must be restricted by age and regulated for quality with known strength and absence of contamination.  We can virtually eliminate the criminal market in these drugs if we regulate them properly.

If we want to reduce the harms from drugs, this is the inevitable solution.  We can either continue to delude ourselves that we can stop drug use, which is a gift to the criminal market, or we must recognise that there is no other effective policy except legal regulation.

Whoever comes next of Dame Carol’s status and influence must speak this truth to power.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 11, 2021 at 10:26 am

The FSA’s Intervention in the CBD Market is a Farce. Here’s the Clear and Simple Solution.

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I’m not sure whether to laugh or cry about the mess the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has got itself into in the cannabidiol (CBD) market.  After imposing costs of millions of pounds on business for no good reason, its deadlines have been missed, it’s got very few products on its ‘approved’ list and the whole situation is chaos.  It’s changed the staff involved (again) and there is no sign it is going to achieve anything except fritter away more taxpayers’ money and impose more unnecessary costs on more businesses.

It was always going to be a disaster because deeming CBD products ‘novel foods’ was false from the beginning. It was the European Commission (EC) that first imposed this nonsensical ruling, refusing to consider the comprehensive evidence submitted by the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) that extracts of CBD (and other cannabinoids) have been widely used in foods since as long ago as the 12th Century. Then, in anticipation of Brexit, the FSA, with no good reason, chose to adopt the EC’s novel foods policy and so this sad and futile story began.

The CBD market does need better regulation but ‘novel foods’ doesn’t address any of the issues of concern at all. It is a completely misguided policy.

There is no evidence of anyone, anywhere in the world, ever coming to any harm from consuming CBD as a food supplement, so the whole basis of deeming it as a ‘novel food’, as well as being false, is predicated on nothing. The reason for ‘novel foods’ regulation is safety and there is no evidence that CBD is unsafe.

There are just two issues which need addressing in regulating a CBD product: what the product contains and how it is marketed.

The first can be solved, at a stroke, by requiring all products to have an independent laboratory test certificate.  Not a certificate of analysis (COA) from a laboratory commissioned by the supplier but a certificate from an independent laboratory that has itself been certified by the regulator which, yes, should be the FSA. So this independent, ‘official’ COA will specify the cannabinoid content, certify that controlled cannabinoids are within the legal limit and that heavy metals and other contaminants are within prescribed safety limits.

The second can be solved, at a stroke, by properly funding the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to fulfil its function as regulator of the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, the law that prohibits claims of medical benefit being made for commercial gain about products which are not licensed as medicines.  The MHRA has dismally failed to fulfil this function, which is ironic as it first brought CBD to regulatory attention in 2016 over the issue of these medical claims.  It simply does not have the resources to do this job. Hundreds of reports have been submitted to the MHRA by the two trade associations, the CTA and CannaPro, but not acted upon.  As a result the law is now widely ignored both by unethical suppliers and by all the national newspapers which regularly run unlawful advertisements and advertorials despite the fact that in theory, the maximum penalty for these offences is two years in jail.

These two steps, taken together, will completely solve the regulatory requirements for the CBD market.

 

Politicians Who Want To Keep Cannabis Banned are on the Same Side as the Gangsters and Drug Lords.

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This article was published in the Daily Express on 8th April 2021 as ‘Legalising cannabis will slash drug crime and levy taxes, it’s nuts not to’

Sadiq Khan has suggested, timidly, a ‘drugs commission’ to look specifically at the legalisation of cannabis. No.10 has hit back saying that a review is waste of time and it has no plans to change the law because “illicit drugs destroy lives and cannabis is a harmful substance”.

I agree.  A review would be a waste of time. We already have all the evidence we need from around the world and it is clear that legalisation would reduce all harm, undermine the gangsters, cut street dealing and violence, protect children and families.

I also agree that “illicit drugs destroy lives” but it’s not the drugs that do that, it’s the fact that they’re illicit.  The law against cannabis causes far more harm than cannabis itself.

Yes, cannabis can be harmful but we have wealth of evidence showing that it is much less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, energy drinks, traffic pollution and many things we consume regularly. Peanuts and shellfish cause far more health harms than cannabis.

But even if you believe the hysteria and exaggeration about the dangers of cannabis, does it make sense to allow gangsters to control the market?  If it’s so dangerous, to protect children and the vulnerable, our government should take responsibility and take control of the market. Look what has happened in many other places, legal regulation of cannabis takes it off the streets and into licensed retailers who have to obey age limits, label their products so adults know what they are buying and pay taxes, which in the USA are raising millions of dollars which are spent on schools, healthcare, drugs education and other community projects.

In Britain we spend £6 billion every year on cannabis and on top of that hundreds of thousands of people grow their own. No one pays any taxes on it and all the profits are used by organised crime to fund other criminal activity.

It’s the criminal cannabis market that provides the funding for county lines.  Young people are groomed into delivering hard drugs by being offered “a bit of weed’. The epidemic of knife crime is driven largely by the gangs and they are funded by their trade in cannabis.  It funds prostitution, modern slavery, people trafficking, it’s where all the gangsters’ money comes from and the very last thing they want is for it to be legalised.

The alternative can be seen in reality in the USA, Canada, Uruguay and other places. In Canada, after just two years of legalisation, already more than half of all cannabis is bought through licensed retailers. In the USA, where cannabis is legalised, underage use has gone down.

The most important thing is that in these places there is now some real control over cannabis. Crime has been reduced. Gangsters don’t rule the streets anymore. There’s no problem with ‘Spice’ because why would anyone buy that dangerous synthetic when they can get the legal, top quality, much safer real thing?

In the USA there are now 350,000 new jobs in the legal cannabis industry. That’s equivalent to 50,000 new jobs in Britain and those are jobs that have been taken away from criminals. All those workers now pay taxes too.  It’s a win-win solution

Today it seems that the main opposition to legalising cannabis comes from the organised crime gangsters and from our politicians. Why? All they ever do is come out with the same non-explanations as Boris Johnson has.  They don’t seem to want to discuss the subject at all and most of them, including Boris, have said they have used cannabis themselves!

In fact, in a video that is widely available on social media, in the year 2000 Boris Johnson asks why his “respectable neighbours who roll up a spliff and quietly smoke it together” are “in breach of the law”?  And he says “I think there is a danger that the government is becoming out-of-touch with what people are actually doing”.

The truth is that legalisation is inevitable.  Every day that our politicians put it off they cause more harm. Another child is sold highly potent, so-called ‘skunk’ on the street. Another young girl is groomed into using hard drugs by being offered some new clothes and a ‘bit of weed’. Another young man is stabbed to death in some stupid dispute over territory, the sort of argument that is dealt with by normal business methods in places where cannabis is legally regulated.

So next time you hear a politician being ‘tough on drugs’, realise that its not drugs he’s being tough on, it’s the people in your community.  Banning cannabis hasn’t worked, there is more of it consumed across the world than ever before. There is a choice, let the gangsters keep running it, terrorising our streets and communities or get tough on them!

Take away the cannabis trade from organised crime and take responsibility for it.  Control it.  Reduce its harms. Benefit from safer streets, increased tax revenue, more jobs, less crime. Ask your MP, whose side are you on?  Are you on our side, looking after us properly, or are you on the same side as the gangsters?

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 11, 2021 at 10:25 am

Courage and Cannabidiol

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The story of how brave British small-businesses created a £1.7 billion market and now face destruction at the hands of the overbearing Food Standards Agency and its big business sponsors.

Hundreds of people who set up small businesses selling CBD products face the looming deadline of 31st March 2021 that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has imposed for its ‘novel foods’ regulations to come into force.

These people, the essence of the British entrepreneurial spirit, are being crushed by misguided over-regulation that is not based on any evidence and which will gift the market to big business while removing from shelves the products which millions of people have gained great benefit from.

The FSA has not consulted with the industry in any meaningful fashion and is imposing draconian new rules which even at this late stage remain unclear, confusing and require enormous, unnecessary and wasteful expenditure in pointless bureaucracy.

To be clear, if you are one of those millions who discovered that CBD could help with anxiety, pain, insomnia and or a host of other conditions, the products you rely on may not be available much longer.  But there is a way through this. Read to the end of this article to find how you will still be able to access the ‘real CBD’ that you need.

The most important thing to understand is that there is no evidence anywhere in the world that anyone has ever come to any real harm from using CBD products. Despite this, the FSA is forcing businesses to put their products through an incredibly complex series of tests which cost a huge amount of money, in some instances hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Even the smallest companies are having to submit a dossiers on individual products which cost around £5000 each to produce.  Imagine how many bottles of CBD oil a small shop or website has to sell to pay for just one of these.  And they are completely pointless.  There is no need for them at all.  The FSA has just invented them and it’s nothing to do with public safety because there is no danger from any of the products concerned.

The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry

What this is really about is that big business missed out on the CBD boom.  They turned their corporate noses up at it, didn’t want to get involved because of the stigma and prejudice associated with anything to do with cannabis.  Then, within the space of a few years, they found that all their big customers, the multiples, were starting to stock CBD and it was selling very well indeed.  So much so that the value of CBD sold in Britain is now more than the value of all vitamin C and vitamin D products combined. It’s a huge market with estimates of its size ranging from £300 million to £1.7 billion per year (New Frontier Data).

So big business is now calling the shots.  A sinister organisation, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), run by a man, Steve Moore, with connections to the sleaziest end of the Conservative Party, is supporting the FSA in this scheme and his aim is simply to price small businesses out of the market and hijack it for his big business friends. Never has a bigger confidence trick been pulled on consumers. The small businesses that created the CBD market had established trade associations from within their own ranks which charged a few hundred pounds for membership and did an excellent job of representing the industry. The ACI demands membership fees of £25,000 per year, pricing out the small businesses and using its funding to bully and intimidate any business that doesn’t want to sign up.

Steve Moore of the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry

There are problems in the CBD market that need addressing. It does need better regulation. There are disreputable businesses selling products that are not what they claim.  They don’t have the amount of CBD in them that is advertised and they are certainly not medicines which can treat cancer, diabetes, depression and serious illnesses.  But these problems are already covered by existing laws. The problem is they are simply not being enforced.  The regulators who should be acting against these rogue companies include the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Trading Standards.  Despite reputable CBD businesses delivering hundreds of reports about rogue suppliers, virtually nothing has been done.  To be fair the MHRA and Trading Standards just don’t have the resources to carry out this work, so the idea of giving them even more work, with incredibly complex regulations to enforce, is just barmy.  It makes no sense.

The Human Medicines Regulations 2012

Even our largest newspaper publishers have been allowed to get away with breaching the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 which prevent anyone from making a commercial gain out of claiming medicinal benefit for a product which is not a licensed medicine. This criminal offence can result in a two year prison sentence, yet the Daily Mail runs such ads every day.  So do most of the tabloids and those newspapers that like to call themseleves ‘quality’, do something equally illegal. They run advertorials or sponsored reviews of products which if you click and buy pay the publishers commission.

These crimes have been reported to the MHRA and to the ASA but they have done nothing about it and the illegal advertising continues to this day.  As for the confidence trickster companies making these illegal medicinal claims, nothing has been done about them either and they continue to scam people with cancer cures and miracle medicines.  Now the ACI is using this conduct as part of the justification for their ‘novel foods’ scam. Of course the two issues are completely unrelated.

But all is not lost.  Undoubtedly, the ‘real CBD’, the whole plant extract, containing all the goodness and nourishment extracted from low-THC cannabis plants, will be taken off the shelves of the multiples but there will be a flourishing ‘grey’ market, mainly online and there will be nothing that the FSA, ACI or their enforcers will be able to do about it.

The FSA’s understanding of CBD and cannabis is virtually non-existent. The original CBD trade associations spent years trying to educate FSA’s people and urging them to co-operate on appropriate regulation but they didn’t want to know. Now the FSA has chosen to listen to its own and ACI’s ‘experts’ who are trained and indoctrinated in the prohibition mindset. Consequently its statements and rulings on its new regulations are so poorly drafted that they leave a gaping hole for the brave, pioneering businesses that created this market.  A genuine, whole plant oil that preserves the natural proportions of the compounds in the hemp plants from which it is extracted is molecularly identical to those plants and hemp is specifically excluded from novel foods regulations.

So ‘whole plant’ is what you must look for if you want ‘real CBD’, the product that so many people benefit from.  The ACI and FSA are pushing nasty, ineffective isolates and synthetics that are useless in comparison and require far higher doses to achieve the same results as a few drops of whole plant oil.

One More Problem as the Home Office Steps In on THC Levels

CBD originally took off because more and more people were becoming aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. CBD was seen as a way to enjoy some of these benefits legally and without getting ‘high’ from the THC in cannabis.  But CBD was always a euphemism to avoid the stigma around cannabis and to reassure people they weren’t buying something illegal. In fact, whole plant CBD products are low-THC cannabis oil.  Under a provision of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations, a trace amount of 1mg of THC per bottle of CBD oil has  been allowed. It’s far too little to get anyone high. You’d have to drink about three bottles in one go before you felt anything.

But surprise, surprise, now the Home Office has started to get involved too. Again, without a shred of evidence of any harm, it is considering reducing this limit very substantially.

Why?

Undoubtedly this is co-ordinated with the FSA and the ACI. The aim is the same, to destroy the small businesses that created this market, to ramp up the costs of selling CBD so high that only big business can afford it and to prohibit the sale of the whole plant, low-THC cannabis oil that is so valuable for so many people.  And there is no credible evidence to support any of it, except what the FSA has cooked up to support its pre-determined conclusion. There is no evidence that the trace amounts of THC in whole plant oil have or could cause anyone any harm and it is all part of the same scam.

So remember, if you want ‘real CBD’, you’re going to have to go online. Look for those courageous businesses that provide whole plant extracts and avoid isolate or synthetic products which are a waste of money.

As the Best of Britain Dies, the Evil Spectre of Anslinger Rises in Steve Moore, Government Stool Pigeon and Traitor to the Cause.

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Harry Anslinger. Steve Moore.

They say bad news comes in threes and this morning we were greeted with the appalling news of another ignorance-based clampdown by the Home Office on CBD products.  Then, shortly after lunch, we heard that the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) which has been collaborating with the Food Standards Agency to destroy all the small businesses that created the CBD market, has gone into partnership with Trading Standards.  It will train Trading Standards officers to assist them with enforcement action against the small businesses which compete with ACI’s big business clients. These small businesses sell ‘real’ CBD, genuine whole plant extracts, while ACI is bulldozing regulators towards nasty, ineffective, isolate and synthetic-based products.

Finally we hear the terrible but not unexpected news that Captain Sir Tom Moore has succumbed to pneumonia, exacerbated by Covid-19.

RIP Captain Sir Tom Moore

Where Captain Sir Tom Moore represented the very best of British and was a symbol of hope and endurance for us all, the gone-to-seed figure of Steve Moore, head of the ACI, is the very opposite.  What cruel irony that they share the same surname!  When Paul Birch, the multimillionaire stoner, gave Steve Moore the funding he needed to launch his Big Pharma-inspired assault on the British cannabis market, he cannot have realised that he was unleashing a tyrannical, bullying monster, almost the reincarnation of Harry Anslinger, the evil force behind ‘reefer madness’ and the father of the war on drugs. The Birch-Moore cartel now has its tentacles into every aspect of the British cannabis market and is eyeing Europe as its next target. We must see that our neighbours are warned. A tie up with the EU bureaucracy would be exactly in line with Moore’s modus operandi.

Birch, who is known to suffer psychotic episodes, once resulting in an intervention from anti-cannabis advocate Lord Monson, provided Moore with the cash to buy up a long list of highly qualified scientists, lawyers and PR consultants. They have taken his thirty pieces of silver and set about the systematic destruction of the wonderful story of British enterprise and innovation that led the world in CBD products.  The contrast between the great Captain Tom and the ignoble, self-serving Moore could not be greater. The coronavirus has taken so much from us and only an individual tied to the sleaziest end of the Conservative Party could exploit it and turn it to his own disgusting advantage.

We should not lose heart though because now the enemy has revealed himself in all his sordid reality.  Across the Atlantic, a new, decent administration is about to decriminalise cannabis federally.  Moore’s advantage will be shortlived.  The prohibitionists in the Home Office and British establishment will shortly be trounced by market forces that are more powerful even than their dead hand, with resources that far exceed anything that Birch and Moore can muster.

It may be a few years yet but the immense benefits of real cannabis which for few short years as ‘real’ CBD have helped so many people in Britain will return.  When the day comes for Birch, Moore and their Gestapo of assistants to meet their maker, they will not do so with the honour and righteousness of Captain Tom but with a squalid record of ignominy and disgrace.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 2, 2021 at 6:59 pm