Peter Reynolds

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Ireland’s Medical Cannabis Access Programme – One Mistake After Another

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Lorraine Nolan, Chief Executive, HPRA

Short of an outright ban, Ireland has the most restrictive medicinal cannabis programme anywhere in the world and it’s still not operational more than four years after it was announced.

What’s even worse, as demonstrated by the letter nine leading neurologists have sent to Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly (Irish Times, 9th August 2021), the four products that the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) have selected are unsuitable for the conditions they are supposed to treat.

The story of how this has unfolded is a lesson in how not to regulate medicinal cannabis, or, indeed, any medicine. The programme is the result of public demand based on increasing recognition of the value and safety of cannabis when used responsibly under medical supervision. But it has been sabotaged by an Irish medical establishment that is hostile to cannabis and officials who have refused to take expert advice, preferring the opinions of clinicians who know nothing about it.

The problems started right at the beginning with a report compiled by the HPRA early in 2017 described as from an ‘expert working group’, yet not one person in the group was an expert in cannabis. It’s not clear that any of them had any knowledge at all about the use of cannabis as medicine when they were appointed. 

Unsurprisingly the report is full of errors and misunderstanding.  It claims there is “an absence of scientific data” on the efficacy of cannabis and not enough information on safety. This is palpable nonsense. History records cannabis being used as medicine for more than 5,000 years and ironically, it was an Irishman, William Brookes Shaughnessy, who published the first scientific paper on it in a medical journal in 1843. Since then it has been one of the most studied medicines on the planet.  It has over 26,000 references on Pubmed, the foremost source for medical literature whereas paracetamol has around 12,000. California has had a medicinal cannabis programme since 1989, the Netherlands since 2001 and its use is now widespread throughout the world. Millions of people are using medicinal cannabis safely and effectively. There is a vast amount of information and evidence available.

The most glaring error in the report is the omission of pain as a condition for which cannabis should be available. Pain is the condition for which cannabis is most often used and is most effective. In 2020 the global medicinal cannabis market was valued at around $9 billion, this is expected to reach $47 billion by 2027 and over 60% of this is for treating pain. Yet the HPRA’s so-called ‘experts’ thought it best to leave it out.

The HPRA started work on MCAP in March 2017. Officials claim to have sought “solutions to the supply of products from Denmark, UK, Canada and further afield”, which has included at least some officials going on international trips. It has taken four years to select four products, one of which is for epilepsy in adults and the other three are, as anyone with any expertise will confirm, best suited to treating pain!

Responsibility for this situation lies squarely with the HPRA.  It is matched by its corresponding failure to facilitate a medicinal cannabis industry in Ireland. At least a dozen serious proposals have been presented offering multimillion euro investments in Ireland, promising the creation of hundreds of new jobs.  Professor David Finn at NUI Galway is one of the world’s leading researchers into cannabinoid medicines and even his participation has failed to galvanise the HPRA into action.

Medicinal cannabis is the fastest growing business sector in the world. It is coming to Ireland, irrespective of the negative and luddite attitudes that prevail amongst the establishment. What is clear is that public health, the Irish people and the Irish economy are missing out in a big way and many of the opportunities have now been lost for good.

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 20, 2021 at 5:46 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.

Review. ‘Drug Use for Grown-Ups’ By Dr Carl L. Hart

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“I discovered that the predominant effects produced by the drugs discussed in this book are positive,” Carl L. Hart writes in his new book. “It didn’t matter whether the drug in question was cannabis, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or psilocybin.”

Carl Hart is a tenured professor of psychology at Columbia University, an experienced neuroscientist and a father. He believes that if “grown-ups” like him would talk freely about the role of drugs in their lives, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in, a mess brought about by our ruinous drug policies, which have had such profound — and profoundly unequal — consequences for those who fall afoul of them.”

I’m reading Carl Hart’s book. Like him, I’m fortunate to have avoided any legal consequence from my ‘hobby’.  I share his advantage of having a decent education but I’m also white and from a relatively privileged, solid, two parent, loving family background.  If it wasn’t for this I doubt I would have been so lucky.  At one point in my life my hobby did become a habit but it was my advantages that got me through.
The older I become the more I realise that our appalling drugs policies are about class and race discrimination and they only serve to make these divisions worse. This is why our politicians do nothing because they, like me, can get away with doing as they wish.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 28, 2021 at 3:15 pm

Review. California Hybrid CBD Oil

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If you’re one of the millions of people in Britain who have found CBD oil helpful, there are some big changes on the way and they’re not good news at all.

On the basis of no evidence at all, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has decided to impose massively expensive new regulations on CBD suppliers and it may mean the products you find most effective will no longer be available.

This excellent, THC-free oil, from CBD-UK, should be OK.  Its manufacturers have applied for a ‘novel foods authorisation’ which means they can continue to sell it. It’s what the FSA calls a ‘novel food’ because it has had even the smallest traces of THC removed.  Now you might think the authorities would regard that as making it safer.  After all, for decades they have been treating THC as the devil’s potion but you shouldn’t expect any logic or real responsibility from this regulator. The FSA is simply acting on behalf of the big companies that missed out on the CBD boom.  They have applied pressure and so these new regulations have been drawn up for no other purpose than to shut out the smaller businesses.

Thankfully, some smaller companies have managed to source supplies that will meet the new regulations but still work effectively.  California Hybrid oil is a good example of this and over the past six weeks or so I’ve been testing it.  It’s delicious and that is one of the most important qualities of CBD oil because unless you take it, little and often, on a regular basis, it will never work effectively.  The taste but also its effectiveness is because it is a whole plant extract (just with the THC removed).  Under these new FSA regulations, most products are going to be ‘isolates’ where all the goodness has been stripped out. Avoid these at all costs. They are just a waste of your money.

As well as the taste, it’s also a sensible level of concentration. It’s a 12% oil which means in this 10ml bottle there are 1200mg of CBD, providing about 6mg per drop, so two or three drops, two or three times a day, is just about ideal dosage. It is for me anyway. I weigh about 90 kilos, so you may need to adjust the dose if you’re bigger or smaller than me.

The inside information I can give you is that 12% is an “honest” extract. It’s about what you would expect from a straightforward extraction with no messing about. Weaker concentrations have been diluted. Stronger forms have been processed to increase concentration.

So I would strongly recommend this product if you want ‘real CBD oil’ but without any THC.  That will be very important to you if you’re subject to drug testing at work because even tiny amounts of THC, which will have no effect on you, can show up in a drug test.

In a few weeks time, high street stores are going to be stripped of good products like this.  Always check the label first.  Do not buy isolates.  They are nasty, ineffective and a waste of time and money. Only buy products that are labelled ‘whole plant’, ‘full spectrum’ or ‘broad spectrum’.  That may well mean you have to shop online.

Buy California Hybrid oil here.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 15, 2021 at 3:07 pm

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

My Predictions for Cannabis in the UK in 2021

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On medicinal cannabis, the senior clinicians and bureaucrats at NHS, NICE and the professional medical bodies will continue to do all they can to block access. Until key individuals are offered fat fees to run clinical trials they will continue to insist that this is the only form of evidence that is acceptable. They will continue to ignore and reject all evidence from overseas. The clamour from more and more patients will grow. The private clinics will boom but our political ‘leaders’ will continue to be impotent in the face of the vested interests of the medical establishment.

The Cancard will take off and police forces will welcome it as a sensible solution.  More and more people will grow their own and cannabis will become completely decriminalised by default.  Only if you’re behaving like an idiot or are engaged in large scale commercial grows and/or gangsterism will the police be interested.  Again our political ‘leaders’ will be useless and too scared of the tabloid media and their bigoted, poorly-informed backbenchers to do anything.  Meanwhile the cannabis trade will continue to drive county lines, knife crime, prostitution, modern slavery, all off the back of profits from cannabis but Boris and his buffoons will refuse to understand this or follow the evidence that legal regulation is the solution.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), in collaboration with the big business lobbyists, The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) , will succeed in getting all the multiples and major retailers to stop selling whole plant CBD extracts, which are what work and what consumers want. Dozens of small CBD companies who actually built this market will be put out of business by the FSA/ACI and hundreds of people will lose their jobs.  FSA/ACI will continue to ramp up their false propaganda that CBD can be toxic despite a complete absence of any real world evidence – all this with the intention of pricing small, artisan suppliers out of the market. Nasty, ineffective, isolate-based products will come to dominate the high street. Despite this, whole plant extracts will continue to be available online and the FSA will discover that it can’t enforce its rules because its definition of ‘novel food’ doesn’t actually fit genuine whole plant extracts.  They will bring prosecutions against some suppliers but these will fail once expert evidence is adduced.

The legal British cannabis market will continue to develop in faltering steps because of the obstacles inherent in the way the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is applied. The government is terrified to undertake the wholesale reform that is urgently needed because of outdated and ignorant attitudes.  It’s so transfixed by the drugs issue that it won’t even make the small tweaks to regulations on industrial hemp, exempt products and licensing that would give a massive boost to business prospects.  I can see no chance of any progress until the Covid crisis is over and ministers have more bandwidth to look at other issues.  Even then it’s going to need some new blood in cabinet.  Although Boris Johnson himself probably does have the instinct for reform, he is surrounded by third rate ministers, most of whom could never be considered progressive and are hardly visionary or ambitious thinkers.

The Birch-Moore cartel will continue to try and monopolise the entire British cannabis space.  Paul Birch, the multimillionaire stoner who landed a fortune from shares in his brother’s business, provides the cash and Steve Moore, former architect of David Cameron’s damp squib ‘Big Society’ project, runs the show. Volteface, Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, the ACI, Hanway Associates, Familes4Access are all different faces of the same core team, all characterised by generous funding, a young, aggressive team and an arrogant disdain for everyone else in the market.  Birch’s money has definitely brought some welcome benefits and was the missing ingredient in achieving the media coverage which led to the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in 2018.  They took ideas and policies developed by other groups and added a well-funded PR operation because the reality is that however important your message, without the hard cash you just don’t get coverage on daytime TV and the main news programmes.  Aside from causing great division, particularly amongst the families campaigning for their epileptic children, the negative and malevolent aspects of their work is best demonstrated by the ACI’s manipulation of the CBD market and bullying of many small businesses.

I’m hopeful that at least in Scotland, which has the worst drug deaths record in Europe, there will be some progress on dealing with problematic hard drug use and its consequences.  The heroic actions of Peter Krykant, who is illegally running a mobile drugs consumption room in Glasgow and saving lives every day, have had a big impact.  This man deserves every bit as much praise as Captain Tom, Marcus Rashford or anyone else who has engaged in altruistic campaigning in 2020. He deserves a knighthood. As I write this, the latest reports suggest Nicola Sturgeon might even defy the dinosaurs in Westminster and fund appropriate harm reduction measures which are so desperately needed.

Until our political ‘leaders’ wake up to the fact that the entire criminal drugs market and the tens of billions it costs the UK are driven by the prohibition of cannabis there will be no real progress either on reducing the cost or improving public health.  The kids who are being stabbed on London’s streets, the young people who are trafficked and the vulnerable hard drug addicts who are being cuckooed as part of county lines dealing, it all starts with the criminal trade in cannabis.  That’s where the money comes from and until the market is taken away from the gangsters and properly regulated, things will only get worse.

Although we’ve all despaired about some aspects of the US political system, the progress on cannabis, even in Republican states, shows what real democracy can achieve. Local ballots have forced reluctant and often hostile politicians to comply with what the people want and make cannabis legally available.  The Biden-Harris team have promised federal decriminalisation and expungement of criminal records for all non-violent cannabis offences.  I think this will happen.  Even if the Republicans retain control of the Senate this issue has built up a head of steam that won’t be stopped. Remarkably, the one issue that transcends the terrible divides in American politics is cannabis.  If the Senate goes Democrat we could see much more far-reaching change.  And once the federal law on cannabis changes, you watch all the slimeball politicians throughout the rest of the world pretending that’s what they wanted all along.

Overall, I am optimistic. Hopefully, as we head through summer and into autumn next year, Covid will be behind us, we’ll all be back to earning a proper living and a lot closer to enjoying our cannabis in freedom, for pleasure, medicine or both.  My very best wishes and the compliments of the season.

Written by Peter Reynolds

December 24, 2020 at 12:51 pm