Peter Reynolds

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Facebook Moderation and Censorship AKA ‘Community Standards’ Going Haywire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 9, 2020 at 2:11 pm

The Root Of All Britain’s Drugs Problems Is In Marsham Street, London, SW1

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The Home Office describes its role as “to keep citizens safe and the country secure”. Its lead role in drugs policy achieves exactly the opposite of this.

It is a scandal encompassing successive governments for more than 50 years that the UK’s approach to drugs has been so utterly disastrous that our policy has caused far more harm than it has prevented.

Currently, the two issues of major concern are the rate of drug deaths and difficulty in accessing cannabis as medicine. It’s no surprise most people now recognise that drugs policy should really be a matter for the Department of Health. The only reason for keeping it in the Home Office is if you believe it is primarily a security issue and about enforcing the law to stop people using drugs and interventions to stop production and importation.  This is an outdated view based on misguided thinking.  The Home Office’s own research shows that laws, enforcement and penalties make absolutely no difference to drug use.  There is no justification for keeping drugs policy in Marsham Street, particularly when we consider the way this focus on security and enforcement has made all our drugs problems so much worse.

Famously, before the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971, it is said there were about 3,000 problematic drug users in the UK. Today, the effect of this law, administered by the Home Office, is that figure has exploded to more like 350,000 problematic users.  It has been a disaster of unparalleled scale.

Victoria Atkins and Theresa May. The drug barons of Britain.

And everything about Home Office drugs policy makes the problems worse.  The only purpose of drugs policy must be to reduce harm but the Home Office is obsessed with a moral crusade of reducing drug use and the level of use is not the same as the level of harm.  Most of the time, the Home Office’s attempts to reduce use cause more harm than the use of drugs itself.  This is particularly true with cannabis where a criminal record, even a caution, causes far more harm to an individual than the use of cannabis. The Home Office already knows that criminal justice measures do not reduce drug use, so enforcement is largely futile and it causes harm.

It is dreadful that the Home Office is strongly resisting efforts to introduce drug consumption rooms (DCRs) which have been shown, conclusively, to reduce drug deaths.  In Glasgow, the local council and the Scottish government are backing the proposal but the Home Office is intransigent.  What is truly appalling and demonstrates a criminal standard of corruption at the highest level is the way that Victoria Atkins, a Home Office Minister, has lied and misled Parliament and the public on the evidence for DCRs.  She, of course is also a rabid anti-cannabis campaigner while her husband makes his living from cannabis production, licensed by the Home Office! This conflict of interest and hypocrisy well illustrates the fundamental corruption and dishonesty that is the Home Office culture.  The ‘hostile environment’ towards immigrants, first introduced by Labour but enthusiastically pursued by Theresa May when she became Home Secretary in 2010, is central to the way that Home Office officials conduct themselves, not only about immigration but every area of home affairs.  The ‘customer’ is the enemy in Home Office terms, someone to be distrusted. This is the way officials treat those who they are paid to serve.

Against this background, it’s astonishing that the new regulations enabling access to cannabis as medicine were introduced while Theresa May was PM.   No one is more strongly prohibitionist, nor, during her six years as Home Secretary, more in tune with the Home Office’s interfering, repressive culture.  It’s more than ironic that on leaving Downing Street she has purchased a flat in, you guessed it, Marsham Street!  This, the scene of her most shameful actions in government, is where she feels at home.

The introduction of the new regulations while she was PM shows that with a big enough media outcry , even the most stubborn bigot can be forced to concede. Though now the media spotlight has moved on, the desperately ill children, some having hundreds of seizures a day, have been forgotten. With just a couple of exceptions they still aren’t getting the medicine they need on the NHS. For them, the new regulatiions mean that they can now get their medicine legally but it has to be paid for privately. Typically this means expenditure of thousands of pounds per month which the families simply cannot afford.

Under the new regulations, cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) are supposed to be available on prescription from specialist doctors as unlicensed, schedule 2 medicines. It’s proving difficult enough to get a doctor to prescribe, such is the lack of understanding amongst doctors and the incredibly restrictive guidelines that professional bodies have put in place.  On top of all that, the Home Office is doing all it can to obstruct access.  Clearly its duty is to facilitate implementation of the new regulations but it is hostile towards the people that seek access to cannabis.  It is and always has been institutionally opposed to cannabis.

For years there has been a procedure in place for those who are prescribed schedule 2 medicines containing controlled drugs to bring up to three month’s supply into the country without requiring a licence.  For cannabis this has been swept aside without any explanation or reason.  The process involved in importing CBPMs is tortuous and complex as the Home Office shows no flexibility, no compassion and places obstacles at every turn. And there is no accountability at all. All Home Office policies, decisions, actions and processes are opaque.  They see no reason to explain themselves. They do what they want, irrespective of the needs of the people concerned, or even the law. Marsham Street considers itself above the law, exempt from any judicial or democratic accountability. Ultimately, the prospect of applying for judicial review of its actions is completely out of reach for everyone except the super rich.

The other crucial aspect of delivering on the new regulations is to develop a UK-based cannabis industry where we are producing ourselves what our people need.  The Home Office has failed entirely to grasp this nettle. Reports are that dozens of applications have been submitted for licences but so far, a year on, the best information I can get is that only one, highly restricted, research-only licence has been issued. So even it doesn’t allow for porduction of CBPMs, all of which have to be imported at huge expense.

It remains the case that the only company licensed for commercial production of cannabis is GW Pharmaceuticals and its subsidiary/supplier companies.  A company in which Home Office minister Victoria Atkins and former Home Secretary and PM Theresa May both have a personal financial interest.  The depth of this corruption and the failure to hold these two crooks to account is surely one of the biggest political scandals ever in British history.

Home Office ministers have a great deal to answer for but also the officials who have restrained those few ministers, such as the Liberal Democrat Norman Baker, who have even dared to consider reform.  The prejudice and bigotry on drugs policy runs so deep it is difficult to see how it can change.  But change it must.  Britain desperately needs a PM and a Home Secretary with the courage and intelligence to grasp this nettle.  Until those people emerge we are destined to stay in a very dark and destructive place while more and more deaths, misery and serious violent crime are caused by those who are failing us so badly.

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 30, 2019 at 6:49 pm

An Update On CBD, the Novel Food Scam and the Fatcats Who Plan to Take Over the Market.

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The CBD Market Has Been Built By Small British Businesses.

It is About To Be Stolen By Government-Backed Big Business.

Over about the last five years, small British businesses have built the CBD market from zero to hundreds of millions in annual sales. It’s been driven by rapidly changing attitudes towards cannabis and a realisation that many of its medicinal benefits could be available legally by using traditional hemp extracts.

Big business, the established supplement and health food companies weren’t interested. They saw the stigma around cannabis before they saw the changing attitudes.

Now it’s all very different. Millions of people are using CBD. All the big multiples are stocking it. It’s become a media fascination and many people say they gain great benefit from it. Suddenly, big business and all the regulators are interested. Suddenly those who weren’t bothered previously are cautioning about all sorts of dangers and concerns. They don’t actually have any evidence of CBD products causing any harm but clearly they don’t think these small, independent businesses can be trusted anymore. Of course, the truth is they want a slice of the action – or preferably all of the action if they can get their chums in government and the bureaucracy to step in and assist with their plans.

In fact the British CBD industry has been a model of responsible self-regulation. Two trade associations, the CTA and CannaPro, represent virtually all the leading UK suppliers and maintain high levels of quality control and trading standards, including regular reporting of non-compliant businesses to the MHRA.

But in June this year, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) published a sensational report alleging that most of the CBD on the market was very poor quality, contained illegal levels of THC and some contained no CBD at all.

Its report was presented as some sort of independent, academic study that should be regarded as science. It wasn’t. It was a cheap marketing stunt. Sure enough, just a few  weeks later it announced that all its members’ products were good quality and there was no problem with them.

Now the CMC has thrown itself in with the EU and is backing the classification of CBD products as ‘novel foods’, meaning that any business selling CBD would have to apply for an authorisation at a cost of at least £250,000 in a process taking perhaps two years to complete.  The CMC has also aligned itself with an interpretation of the law on THC levels in CBD products which is completely at odds with the established industry.  It has sided with the Home Office that there cannot be any THC at all, whereas the industry relies on a  definition of ‘exempt products’ in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001 which permits up to 1mg of THC in each container.

As Brexit approaches, the Food Standards Agency (FSA) is expected to issue guidance on enforcement of the novel foods classification.  If it acts before Brexit then the position will be carried over in the Withdrawal Agreement.  And now the CMC has launched yet another trade body, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry, (ACI) which it is implying will enable CBD suppliers to enjoy a ‘grace period’ from FSA enforcement.

It would be unlawful for the FSA to make any arrangements or offer any ‘grace period’ to CMC or ACI members that is not available to any other business. Mike Harlington of the CTA tried this on before, claiming he had made special arrangements with the FSA for CTA members only. None of this is true. These claims are confidence tricks but the CMC/ACI is pushing it with the requirement to sign up to membership at a cost said to be between £10,000 and £50,000 per year, completely prohibitive for the small businesses that have worked so hard to develop this industry.

The Centre For Medicinal Cannabis Is A Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing,

The ‘Big Pharma’ Of British Medicinal Cannabis And CBD.

The CMC appeared sometime in 2018 announcing itself as the UK’s first and only industry membership body for businesses and investors operating in cannabis based medicinal products (CBMPs) and cannabidiol (CBD) wellness markets.  This, of course, is nonsense. It’s about the fifth or sixth to set itself up as a trade body in this market and it’s certainly not the only.  Between them, the CTA and CannaPro represent hundreds of businesses with millions of satisfied customers.  The CMC has only a handful of members.

What the CMC/ACI does have is a great deal of money from its backer, the multimillionaire Paul Birch and a great deal of influence from ex-David Cameron ‘fixer’, Steve Moore, who knows all the right people in all the establishment elites and knows how to pull their strings.  In just a few short months it has pumped a fortune into PR and media relations and made itself the go to source for anything on medicinal cannabis and CBD.  It has also bought and paid for a large number of highly qualified people with impressive credentials who inevitably carry great weight with the authorities. Its ambitions are clear.  It intends to destroy the small businesses that built this market and seize it all for itself and it looks as though it may well succeed.

CannaPro spoke with the FSA earlier this week.  For the moment, the FSA cannot act as we are in election ‘purdah’, the civil service can’t really do anything except keep the status quo but that will all change after the election.  Then, depending on the new government, it may move rapidly to commence enforcement. What this will mean is impossible to predict but almost certainly the multiples will take stock off the shelves unless some interim arrangements are agreed.  Those with retail premises will be in the most immediate danger, online sellers will be in a better position but if Trading Standards officers try to seize stock, they have extraordinary powers and trying to obstruct them may result in arrest.

Of course, the novel foods classification is fake and a lot of evidence has been presented to prove this but it is simply being dismissed. It’s rather like the way the medical establishment dismisses the evidence on medicinal cannabis.  If these institutions don’t like evidence they simply ignore it.  For obvious reasons, it suits the CMC to get behind the novel food scam but the result for consumers will be a lot less choice and probably substantial price rises. It’s also very bad news for CBD businesses.  A lot of people are likely to lose their jobs.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 31, 2019 at 9:35 pm

NICE’s Draft Guidelines on Cannabis Prove That Its Methods Don’t Work and It Is Causing Harm to Patients

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The draft guidelines produced by the NICE committee are nothing short of ridiculous.  There is a complete absence of common sense and an absurd failure properly to consider all the available evidence.

But it’s actually much more serious than this.  It is now abundantly clear that this committee, its membership and its conclusions were only ever intended to delay, obfuscate and sabotage the reforms which were introduced in November last year because of a public outcry.

The selection of members of the committee is by any standards corrupt.  The most highly qualified people have been deliberately excluded.  Anyone publicly expressing support for the use of cannabis as medicine has been rejected whereas those selected have frequently expressed opposition.  The inclusion of the ‘reefer madness’ advocate Professor Finbar O’Callaghan is both reprehensible and inexcusable. If the man had any ethical standards or conscience he would recuse hismself. The committee is a confidence trick.

The medical establishment, the Home Office and all the various regulators, including the MHRA, the FSA and the Royal Colleges are all institutionally opposed to cannabis and they are doing everything they can to stop it reaching the people who can benefit from it.  Cannabis, the more intelligent approach to medicine it both requires and inspires, threatens too many vested interests and the comfortable, self-satisfied and self-serving model of healthcare that prevails in Britain.

But if any NICE apparatchik or fat cat pharma supremo thinks they can stop cannabis they are fooling themselves.  From right around the world the overwhelming weight of expert opinion and patient experience reveals that what is happening in Britain is merely delaying the inevitable. But in the meantime it is causing great suffering and unnecessary harm to patients.  It is a scandal of the highest order and the people responsible for it must be called to account.

CLEAR has responded to the consultation on the draft guidelines in great detail.  Without reproducing our line by line commentary, these are our three general observations.

1. The entire guideline is characterised by a failure to consider observational evidence and real-world experience.  Cannabis is the oldest medicine known to mankind and failure to give substantial weight to real-world experience of its safety and efficacy is nothing short of absurd. Given its illegality over the past 100 years, the wild scaremongering about its recreational use and therefore the lack of formal clinical evidence, this is simply setting it up to fail. It is irresponsible in the extreme to fail to consider the enormous benefit at very low cost and the very few adverse events associated with illicit cannabis.

2. There is little evidence of potential for harm for cannabis for any medical condition. Given the enormous numbers using cannabis in its most potent form as a recreational drug and/or self-medicating (estimated at 250 million regular users worldwide) there are far fewer adverse events or incidents of harm than for common over-the-counter medicines.

3. The weight given throughout the guideline to the potential for harm of cannabis is wildly disproportionate.  There is no evidence of any significant harm from cannabis when used as a medicine, especially when under the supervision of a medical professional.  At least 10,000 years of human experience shows that cannabis is essentially safe. Seeking to evaluate its safety in the same way as a new, experimental medicine, synthesised in a lab for which there is no real-world experience is a fundamentally flawed approach.  Unlike potentially dangerous or unsafe medicines, cannabis can and should be offered to patients on a ‘try it and see’ basis.  Instead of being over-cautious, clinicians should welcome this approach and can be certain that it will benefit patients whether or not in proves effective in individual cases.

Boris To Back Cannabis?

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I believe the stars are aligned. The time is right.  Cannabis law reform has become a political opportunity instead of a problem and Boris Johnson is the politician who could exploit it for his personal advantage but also for great benefit to the whole nation.

Public opinion is now clearly onside. According to the latest poll, twice as many people (48%) support legalisation as oppose it, an overwhelming 77% support legal access to cannabis as medicine and 22% support legalising ‘grow-your-own’.

Remarkably this poll was commissioned by the newly-formed Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, a development which itself shows how dramatically opinion has changed, even amongst the party of government.

The headlines around Michael Gove’s past use of cocaine led to an outpouring of confessions from politicians of all parties and those who admitted to consuming cannabis brushed it aside as of little consequence.

The evidence coming from Colorado, which legalised five years ago, is very clear that legalisation works and there have been no significant negative consequences. In Canada and California, which legalised more recently, aside from teething troubles, everything is looking good.

The economic case for legalisation is very strong with estimates predicting at least £1 billion up to as much as £7 billion net gain from additional tax revenue and reduced law enforcement costs.

The thunderous clamour from international business is becoming deafening.  If the UK doesn’t catch up with the fast-moving pace of reform it is going to lose out very significantly.

It’s clear the police have absolutely no interest, nor the resources, to enforce the laws against personal possession, consumption or low-level cultivation of cannabis.

I hear from a very close and reliable source who works in the criminal courts every day, that throughout the system, judges, barristers, solicitors, police officers, probation workers, everyone thinks that there is no point in enforcing these laws anymore and they do more harm than good.

So, if next week Boris Johnson becomes PM, then probably on 31st October, if not very shortly afterwards, we will leave the EU.  Then we will have a General Election because he cannot miss the opportunity while the Labour Party is in its present state of self-destruction.

A new Boris Johnson government will be radical.  He will want to assert his credentials as a liberal and a supporter of business and free markets.  He will also want to support the police and do something to tackle knife crime which is almost entirely driven by the failed drugs policy of prohibition.  It will be a no brainer for Boris to back cannabis.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 18, 2019 at 3:13 pm

Centre for Medicinal Cannabis CBD Report Confirmed as Cheap Marketing Stunt

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Steve Moore, ex-advisor to David Cameron, now leads the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis

At the end of June, the ‘Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ (CMC) published a report which painted an appalling picture of the CBD market in the UK and has led to headlines and alarm everywhere that consumers are being ripped off and the whole industry is not to be trusted. See: Mischievous ‘Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ Report Smears UK CBD Industry With Misleading Data

Now, as it publishes what it calls a “further update”, it is confirmed that the report and the extremely expensive PR operation around it is nothing more than a cheap marketing stunt.

The report claimed to have tested 30 major UK CBD products that can be purchased from the UK high street or bought online. It presented alarming results showing that many of the products contained far less CBD than claimed and almost half contained illegal levels of THC and/or CBN. It refused to release information about which products were concerned with evasive answers and excuses that there were ‘legal implications’. Now, in its further update, surprise, surprise, it says that all its members’ products were within 10% of the CBD content indicated on the label.

As CLEAR reported at the time, the report is nothing but a market manipulation exercise. We didn’t expect their preference for their own products to come so quickly and so brazenly, which is why we now christen the whole exercise a cheap stunt. Certainly, there are some rogue businesses and fake products but the impression given by this report is false, misleading and wildly inaccurate. Consumers can be confident if they buy from members of the two trade associations Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) or Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) they will be getting a quality product which is lab tested and contains exactly what is claimed.

CMC now defines itself as a trade body, although it only has two or three members in the CBD business in the UK, which were formerly members of the long-established trade associations. It should be noted that the so-called ‘independent’ laboratory it used for testing CBD products is itself a member of CMC.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 18, 2019 at 1:09 pm

Mischievous ‘Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ Report Smears UK CBD Industry With Misleading Data

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A new report from the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC) paints an appalling picture of the CBD market in the UK and has led to headlines and alarm everywhere that consumers are being ripped off and the whole industry is not to be trusted.

Cannabis has great medical potential. But don’t fall for the CBD scam – The Guardian

Calling on the UK CBD sector to have better regulation and reform – Health Europa

Centre for Medicinal Cannabis survey finds six million adults used CBD in UK – NHS Executive

CBD oil brands contain little to no CBD, test by Sativa’s UK lab reveals – Proactive Investors

It is true that there are some rogue businesses and fake products but the impression given by this report is false, misleading and wildly inaccurate.  For nearly three years the leading CBD businesses in the UK have been engaged in serious, responsible self-regulation and consumers can be confident if they buy from members of the two trade associations Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) or Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) they will be getting a quality product which is lab tested and contains exactly what is claimed.

The report is nothing but a market manipulation exercise by the authors. To understand why, it’s necessary to understand who is behind the ‘Centre for Medicinal Cannabis’ and examine their record.

The CMC is the latest front for Paul Birch, a multimillionaire, who since 2015 has been funding a series of ventures in the cannabis campaign. Mr Birch has brought one extremely valuable commodity to the campaign which it had been sorely lacking – money.  He has hired a lot of people with the right connections, impressive letters after their name and has thrown a great deal of his cash into expensive PR which, to be fair, has proved very effective. In fact, as with this CBD report, it is characterised by just how much media coverage it has obtained.  This, of course, has earned Birch’s cannabis ventures a reputation as leaders in their field. In fact, they are very much followers.  The content of their work is either directly copied from others’ work or is just a repeat of what has been done before.

The most high profile success achieved with Birch’s money and PR was the campaign around Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, two children with severe epilepsy, whose stories touched the heart of the nation and under enormous moral pressure forced the UK government into long-overdue reform of its blanket ban on cannabis as medicine.  Birch’s money certainly made all the difference. Exactly the same stories and messages had been delivered to the media many times before but it is a fact of life that you only get on to the breakfast and daytime TV shows and in all the tabloids with a very expensive PR operation.

So Birch is at it again with the CMC. It describes itself as the UK’s first and only industry membership body for businesses and investors operating in cannabis based medicinal products (CBMPs) and cannabidiol (CBD) wellness markets.“, which is as wholly false a claim as has ever been published about anything, anywhere.

The existing trade associations, CannaPro and the CTA, were formed years before the CMC and between them represent nearly 1,000 businesses operating in the legal cannabis sector.  Neither of them were consulted before or since the CMC’s report and the fact of their existence and the work they do in regulating the industry has been excluded from the report.

Of course, the CMC won’t name the products which its report showed to be so deficient because this would show that they are not from members of CannaPro or CTA and are therefore not at all representative of what consumers are actually buying. The irony is that PhytoVista, the lab used by the CMC, is itself a member of the CTA and provides testing services to many CannaPro and CTA members.

So take the results of the CMC CBD report with a very large pinch of salt, or perhaps with a tablespoon of hempseed oil containing only a trace of CBD.  It doesn’t tell the truth. It paints a false picture of an industry that is actually a model of self-regulation.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 9, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Letter to the Irish Independent, 22nd June 2019. ‘Let’s look at the evidence when it comes to cannabis’

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Peter Reynolds of CLEAR confronts the reefer madness of Irish psychiatrist, Professor Patricia Casey.

See her original column: ‘Dangers of sleepwalking into legalisation of cannabis use’

In response to Patricia Casey (Dangers of sleepwalking into legalisation of cannabis use’, 15th June 2019), how much longer must we be berated by the sort of arguments that Professor Casey puts forward? At best her column is disingenuous and misleading.

The ‘Cannabis Risk Alliance’ was directly contradicted by another group, similarly qualified, just a few days later and by the overwhelming weight of medical and scientific opinion around the world.

Research shows the risk of mental illness with cannabis is one in 20,000. By comparison the risk of being struck by lightning is one in 3000.

Medical cannabis is not “use of cannabis of the CBD variety”. Bedrocan, the leading EU medical cannabis supplier has three products with THC content of 22%, 13.5% and 14%. It’s clear Professor Casey simply doesn’t understand the subject.

Cannabis has been used as medicine for more than 5,000 years and doctors around the world now prescribe it with enormous benefit to patients. Some 99% of Irish doctors have not been educated in the endocannabinoid system, through which cannabis works. In other countries, medical cannabis has special regulations. Trying to regulate a 500 molecule medicine in the same way as single molecule pharmaceutical product is impossible.

Professor Casey is wrong about the Netherlands. By separating the cannabis market from hard drugs, the rate of heroin addiction is one-sixth that of Ireland. So talk about a ‘slippery slope’ and a “softening up process” is simply mischievous.

I agree that government must be careful of vested interest groups but these include doctors funded by pharmaceutical companies. Psychiatrists only see people with a problem and are blind to the benefits that 99% of people experience.

Can cannabis be misused and cause harm? Yes. Is the risk as great as with alcohol or tobacco? No. Is it any more than with coffee, bacon or chocolate? Not really. It really is time we acted in accordance with the evidence and not on scaremongering which verges on hysteria.

Peter Reynolds

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 22, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Doctors Are Frightened Of Cannabis. It Challenges Conventional Medicine And Threatens Their Status.

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Professor Andrew Goddard and Professor Finbar O’Callaghan at the Health and Social Care Committee, 26th March 2019

The British medical establishment is behaving like a spoilt child that doesn’t understand the rules of a new game.

The irony is that it’s actually a very old game that went out of fashion just a century ago despite thousands of years of practice. The wisdom accumulated across those many years has been dismissed by simplistic, reductionist, allopathic medicine and its return is being driven by patients – real benefit that real patients experience in real life, surely the most important criterion of all.

The doctors responsible for drafting the medicinal cannabis guidelines from the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurology Association have failed patients.  Either through error or design they have overlooked the evidence of safety and efficacy that is widely available.  They say there is ‘no evidence’ when what they mean is there is no evidence that suits them.  For some reason they regard medical practice in Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain or Israel as not applicable to the UK.  Their guidelines are not based on evidence but on the disregarding of evidence and they are merely the opinion of doctors who have no experience of cannabis at all.

These doctors who expect their ill-informed opinions to be treated as scientific fact are directly opposing the doctrine of ‘do no harm’.  They stand by while scores of young children suffer life threatening seizures, while hundreds of thousands in chronic pain are offered only highly toxic, addictive and dangerous opioids.

Their arrogance, stubborness and self-serving preference for lengthy clinical trials from which they earn fat fees is both damaging quality of life and putting health at risk for millions of us.

Since Finbar O’Callaghan and Andrew Goddard gave evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee, over three months ago, neither of them, nor any of their colleagues in their ivory towers, have done anything effective to improve access to cannabis as medicine.  They have decided that their opinion counts above everything else.  They have no interest in what patients have learned from experience, sometimes over many years. They choose to ignore the expertise of thousands of doctors from other countries.  They will consider the benefits of cannabis only on their terms.  They continue to wildly exaggerate the possible harms and side effects and their position is fixed, stubborn and intransigent.

It was notable in the two professors’ evidence that they preferred only to talk about cannabidiol, where they could refer to the evidence of clinical trials. They didn’t want to discuss full spectrum cannabis at all.  Why is it that physicians are so risk averse when surgeons are lauded and idolised for the most perilous use of the knife? They will slice into flesh only millimetres away from vital organs, remove sections of the brain which could kill or paralyse with the slightest error. Yet unbelievably, O’Callaghan actually does recommend slicing into a child’s brain rather than to administer a tiny dose of a very low potency version of a drug which 250,000,0000 people worldwide consume regularly with very few problems.

It’s all about ignorance and fear. O’Callaghan, Gardner and 99% of British doctors have received no education at all in the endocannabinoid system through which cannabis exerts its therapeutic effects and this challenges their status. In our culture, doctors have been treated as infallible, almost as Gods, never to be questioned, only to be obeyed. So a medicine that works, that is safer than virtually all the pills you can buy over-the-counter and has powerful, benefical effects for very wide range of conditions is a real threat to doctors’ status. It shakes their world and so they are eager to disparage it, exaggerate its risks, diminish its efficacy.

This is the real issue with cannabis. It gives medicine back to the people, literally for those who grow their own, and with it a great deal of the power and prestige that the medical profession has held over us.

Of course more and more doctors are opening their minds and learning.  It’s the establishment that’s the problem, as it so often is in British life.  It’s those at the top of the Royal Colleges, the professional institutions and the NHS bureaucrats at the intersection between money and medicine. These are the people that stand in the way of the most inexpensive, multi-purpose, safe, effective, easily tolerated medicine that we have.

 

Review. ‘Cannabis Health’ Magazine

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This is a milestone in cannabis law reform.  A glossy magazine, produced to the highest standard, fit to sit alongside Country Life, Cosmopolitan or Vogue.  It treats the subject with intelligence, with insight and the stories it tells are told with respect, sensitivity and common sense.

It would be easy to have made this sensationalist, to have made exaggerated claims, launched strident attacks on those who still oppose consumption of the plant or fallen into the trap of folklore rather than science, magic rather than medicine.  The publishers have hit the bullseye with the right tone and style and provided it reaches the right coffee tables, perhaps doctors waiting rooms, it will help to drive reform. Never before have I been moved by a magazine but this represents the achievement of a level of acceptance that sometimes I doubted I would see in my lifetime.

CLEAR was able to contribute to this first issue, introducing our members, Robert Cohen and Marie Emma Smith, whose stories of how cannabis has transformed their lives are beautifully told and I am honoured to have been interviewed as part of a feature on the campaign.

It’s intended to be quarterly but I won’t be surprised if it takes off and becomes monthly before very long.  There is a huge reservoir of advertising expenditure which has been stymied by the short-sighted attitude of social media companies. It will be poetic justice if traditional publishing can do well out of the reintroduction of this traditional medicine. A free, one year, postal subscription is available to the first 10,000 people to register by emailing chloe@aspectpublishing.co.uk

There is still a logjam of prejudice and lack of understanding, particularly amongst cowardly politicians and a medical establishment that feels threatened by a subject where patients know more than doctors.  ‘Cannabis Health’ wll help to break this down.  The sheer weight of public support, enthusiasm and real life experience will soon leave these sceptics desperate to catch up.  Get yourself a copy and enjoy quality writing about cannabis published in print rather than online.  The world is changing!

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 6, 2019 at 3:31 pm