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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

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.

 

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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.