Peter Reynolds

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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

Review. Karma Coast CBD

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Karma Coast 1500mg CBD OIl

I hope you’ll take my word for it, that here are two of the best tasting and most effective CBD products on the market.  Karma Coast’s CBD oil and vape pen cartridges are as good as you can get and I have the experience and knowledge of this market to be able to make that statement with confidence.

Karma Coast CBD Vape Cartridge

I first sampled CBD oil back in about 2012.  Nobody knew anything about it back then and I wasn’t at all sure that this new angle on cannabis wasn’t just another scam or some internet myth.  There were some pretty extraordinary claims being made around Real Scientific Hemp Oil (RSHO) but with its deliberate play on the famous RSO (Rick Simpson Oil), that simply reinforced my scepticism.

Then a good friend of mine with an appalling catalogue of health problems, fibromyalgia, ulcerative colitis, sciatica and more, started to experience some amazing results.  It wasn’t quite raising Lazurus from the dead but it he did get up out of his wheelchair and walk across the room – something he hadn’t been able to do for years.

Fortunately, I’ve never had any severe health problems myself but I’d already been campaigning on medicinal cannabis for many years and this felt like a breakthrough.  Back then there was little prospect of legal access to medicinal cannabis but here was something that was legal and offered many of the same benefits.  It was revolutionary.

It was the medicinal benefits of CBD that caused this market to take off.  Still today the reason people buy CBD is to deal with health problems and whatever the law and the medical establishment says about it, it works very effectively for millions of people.

One issue that has always been a problem is the taste of CBD oil. It can be vile and although some like their medicine to taste bad, it’s been something that has put many people off.

So I am delighted to have discovered Karma Coast products.  The oil is delicious.  Not just bearable or OK but quite genuinely it has a gorgeous cannabis flavour.  It won’t be any hardship taking this every day and holding it under your tongue for four or five minutes to absorb it most effectively.  It’s also supplied in sensible strengths and sizes at reasonable prices.  The basic 10ml bottle contains 1500mg of CBD in a genuine whole plant extract for £75.00. That means that each drop is equivalent to 7.5mg of CBD. For me, four or five drops per day is the perfect dose and this little bottle will last well over a month.

The crucial point is that this is a genuine whole plant extract.  It preserves all the compounds that were in the low-THC cannabis plants (industrial hemp) from which it was extracted. Experience and an increasing amount of research shows that this is how to deliver the benefits of CBD. Isolate-based products simply don’t work as effectively.  The bad news is that if the Food Standards Agency (FSA) gets its way then isolate-based products are going to take over and dominate the market. It is being supported by a big business lobbyist organisation, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), which is intent on taking over the market and wiping out the small businesses like Karma Coast that are delivering products that actually work.  The good news is that the FSA has slipped up in its definitions. It doesn’t really understand what CBD products are and a genuine whole plant product like Karma Coast won’t be subject to the ‘novel foods’ rules it has introduced.

So to the vape cartridges. Vaping CBD is the most effective method of absorption there is.  It can get three or four times more CBD into your bloodstream than ingesting the same amount of oil. The effect doesn’t last as long though, so if you’re using CBD for pain, anxiety or as a sleep aid, you should take your main dose as oil and use a vape to top up or accelerate the effect you need.

The brilliant thing Karma Coast offers is a range of flavours and, harking back to my hash smoking teenage years, I chose the Moroccan Hash variety.  Wow!  It really does bring back memories and the taste is exactly right.  This is achieved by addng terpenes to the oil to match the cannabis flavour you’re looking for – and it really works.

So I’m very fortunate in that I get offered a lot of CBD products to try.  The best I can say is that I am very happy to spend my own money on Karma Coast.  I highly recommend these products.  Go to the company website for more details and to order: https://www.karmacoastcbd.co.uk/

 

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

December 8, 2020 at 5:01 pm

Review. ‘The CBD Book. The Essential Guide to CBD Oil’ by Mary Biles

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If you are looking for a basic guide to CBD, then this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a more advanced guide, with in-depth detail about research, then this is also the book for you.

In fact, even if you’re a doctor or scientist, looking for the most comprehensive, user-orientated information about CBD, this is a remarkable achievement by the author, Mary Biles, who I am fortunate to count as a friend and she can justifiably be very proud of it.

As writers in the cannabis space, Mary and I have followed similar paths, so I understand exactly the challenges she will have faced in writing this book and she has handled them wisely.  It is easy-to-read, not in the least dry but manages to pack in a great deal of valuable information, clearly explained scientific evidence and sensible advice which will be of great benefit to all readers.

Contents include the basic science of cannabis, cannabinoids, CBD and the endocannabinoid system; an excellent section on research into using CBD for many medical conditions; wellness; how to take CBD and some useful case studies.

Mary sticks to the science but has a deeper understanding that is not found in simplistic objectivity.  Experience, both her own and learned from others, shows that the absence of evidence does not mean CBD doesn’t work but also that more extreme claims need to be treated with healthy scepticism.

Highly recommended and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 29, 2020 at 4:45 pm

Five Reasons Why Boris Johnson Should Legalise Cannabis Now

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1. Popularity

Polls confirm that a majority of British voters support reform of our cannabis laws. More than three-quarters are strongly supportive of medicinal cannabis.  There has been a sea change in attitude, also strongly accelerated by the rise of the CBD market, itself born entirely out of small, entrepreneurial British businesses. Boris could catch this wave, delight more than half of the electorate immediately with a bold, radical move and dispel much of the ‘nasty party’, authoritarian mood that has come out of the Covid crisis. Properly explained, a new policy can also deal with the concerns that still remain about cannabis. It should be presented as a solution to the four further reasons set out below and because, in 2020 no one wants to see their son, daughter, mother or father turned into a criminal just for cannabis.  A large majority of electors support this.

2. Mental health

For many years, politicians have been advocating that mental health should be treated with the same priority as physical health. The Conservative Party has promised it repeatedly over the past decade. For those that fear cannabis contributes to young people’s problems, legal regulation is, without doubt, the solution. Age limits and licensed rather than criminal distribution channels will minimuse underage use. Proper labelling and limits on THC content of licensed cannabis will protect against the negative effects of so-called ‘skunk’.  For the millions that we know already use cannabis actually to help with their mental health, particularly during lockdown, it will enable access to new, safely controlled and designed products with ideal ratios of CBD and other ingredients. These will be far preferable to the massive bill both in NHS expenditure and side effects that we currently pay for tranquilisers, anti-depressants, sleeping and anxiety medicines.

3. Tax revenue

The potential for an enormous net gain to the British economy, turning what is now only a drain on resources into a new revenue stream is huge. Serious, erudite work has been completed by a number of well-respected institutions. The most pessimistic estimate a net gain of about £1 billion. The most optimistic projections are 10 times as much. Looking to actual experience around the world, most likely is somewhere in the middle, perhaps around the £6.7 billion that the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit calculated in its 2011 study. As we emerge from the Covid crisis into a deep recession, cutting our costs and increasing our income are going to be vital and cannabis isn’t going away. We have to choose whether to waste money on it or make money from it. Cannabis legalisation won’t just cover its own costs but provide billions more that can be added to the public expenditure budget – and we are going to need every penny.

4. Jobs

About 250,000 people work in the legal cannabis industry in the USA and numbers are expected to grow significantly as legalisation expands. That’s equivalent to creating about 50,000 new jobs in the UK. A legally regulated cannabis industry would create huge investment in sophisticated cultivation and production facilities, distribution and retail channels. The CBD industry has already created hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new jobs in the way that only new industries can. We can already see that the push back from big business and big pharma that have missed out on this boom is about destroying jobs and stifling innovation. The path that the EU and the FSA are trying to force the CBD industry down is really about protectionism for the established pharmaceutical and supplement industries.  We are going to need new markets, new thinking and fresh ideas to create new jobs.

5. Crime and violence

The long held ‘gateway’ myth that consuming cannabis ‘leads on to harder drugs’ has been disproven over and over again by science. It’s still strangely prevalent amongst the poorly informed but even the UK government’s expert advisors formally rejected it in 2008. The laws against cannabis and the £6 billion criminal market that they have created is the gateway to deliquency, knife crime, county lines exploitation and hard drugs. The police and our political leaders have found themselves on the same side as organised crime, for they share the desire to keep cannabis banned. The public demand is not going away and a responsible government would act to regulate the market, to make it safer and to protect consumers. The criminal cannabis market is how young people get groomed and enticed into county lines and it’s what drives knife crime. It drives and funds much more serious crime. It is undermining our society. It really is one of the most idiotic, irrational and counterproductive of all government policies.  A legally regulated market will pull the rug from under this nightmare scenario.  As Canada has proved, within two years, around 50% of the market has already moved to legal channels and the damage caused by nearly a century of prohibition is gradually being undone.

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 3, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Seeing Green. A Film About Perspective, Family and Weed

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CLEAR is proud to present a new campaign film, in partnership with the filmmaker Tom McNie, whose work paints a portrait of cannabis use among ordinary British families, in ordinary British households up and down the country.

As the law stands; these characters – whose actions, rather than an act of curiosity or need – have made them criminals, face prison and an unlimited fine. Such is the prevalence of cannabis in British society that these laws have become untenable, with former Metropolitan Police Chief Bernard Hogan-Howe urging for reform and, in 2018, Mike Barton, Durham Chief of Police arguing that the prohibition of cannabis damages public safety, puts users in more danger and gives billions of pounds to organised crime and gangsters which in turn drives knife crime and county lines exploitation.

We hope that this film shines a spotlight on the issue and fosters positive debate about cannabis use in Britain.

Enjoy the film. Share it with friends and family and help us put an end to criminalisation of cannabis consumers.  Let’s get the dealers off the streets and into regulated, licensed retailers for a safer, healthier Britain.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 21, 2020 at 11:18 am

Priti Patel on Poppers Demonstrates How Corrupt and Irrational Is UK Drugs Policy

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Priti Patel wants to legalise ‘poppers’, a drug with dangerous effects on the heart and eyes, in order to help the sex lives of gay men who account for around 3% of the population. Yet she refuses to legalise cannabis, a drug that is generally very safe, even though it can provide real medicinal benefits for 100% of the population.

‘Poppers’ is the well established street name for alkyl nitrites, a type of drug that is inhaled, producing a massive and almost instantaneous ‘hit’ by relaxing ‘smooth muscle’ which results in the dilation of blood vessels in the brain. This leads to a drop in blood pressure which the heart immediately responds to by increasing its rate and so a huge amount of extra blood surges into the brain.  Crucially, another smooth muscle that is affected is the anal sphincter and so the gay male community has found poppers a useful aid to anal sex. They can fairly be described as making anal sex safer and more pleasant, preventing ruptures or tears.

It would be a good thing to legalise poppers and to regulate their production and supply so that use of them is as safe as possible.  Alongside legal regulation, information on harm reduction could be offered and the whole environment surrounding their use could become much more sensible and civilised. It would be a even better thing to legalise cannabis. All the same benefits of safety and the environment would result but they would affect many millions more people.  In addition, the £6 billion criminal cannabis market, which feeds violence, gangsterism, county lines, hard drug dealing, modern slavery and much more serious crime, would be dealt a terminal blow.  It wouldn’t stop immediately but it would be the beginning of the end and it would transform many aspects of British society. I believe the benefits would be much wider and more far reaching than we can even imagine.

So what can possibly explain this move?  Why would such an irrational policy be proposed by the Home Secretary?

Priti Patel is quite possibly a very pleasant woman and she is to be admired for rising to dizzying heights in  political life despite the prejudice towards both her gender and race.  She has an unfortunate manner and glint in her eye that seems to appeal to to the authoritarian side of the ‘nasty party’, probably exactly why Boris Johnson made her Home Secretary to appease the hard right, for he is essentialy a libertarian.  Why is she so keen to move on poppers but not on other drugs where reforming their legal status is far more urgent and would deliver benefits on a far greater scale?

It’s instructive to recall what happened in Parliament when it first seemed that poppers would be banned under the Psychoactive Substances Act 2016.  Crispin Blunt, the Conservative MP and a prominent advocate for drugs policy reform, declared himself a user of poppers and sure enough, within a few weeks the Home Office had found a way to exclude them from the Act.

 

I expect no one would agree more with me than Crispin Blunt on the urgent need for cannabis to be regulated and, indeed for other drugs, far safer than poppers, such as MDMA (ecstasy). Present policy maximises the dangers of all drugs and while a fatal cannabis overdose is impossible, people do die fom MDMA overdoses because in an unregulated, criminal market no one knows the strength of what they are taking.

There can only be one reason why Ms Patel is making this irrational move on poppers and it’s because she has been subject to lobbying, probably from other MPs who hold the same position as Crispin Blunt.

So while I welcome the legal regulation of poppers, cannabis and MDMA should come first.  It’s no surprise that once again our politicians pursue drugs policy that is irrational and corrupt.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm

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.