Peter Reynolds

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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

The CBD Market Can Help Drive Cannabis Law Reform But Selling So-Called ‘CBD Flowers’ Could Take Us Backwards

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Jim Weathers of Puff ‘n Stuff CBD shop, Cork, Ireland

Compliant businesses operating responsibly within the legal cannabis sector will help to drive reform. Blurring the lines between legal and illegal products will delay progress.

It seems that the crackdown on the open sale of cannabis flowers online and in high street stores is here.  Both in the UK and Ireland, several shops have been raided in recent weeks and some people are facing potential charges of supplying a class B drug and a possible jail sentence.

These flowers, sold under meaningless pseudonyms such as ‘CBD buds’ or ‘hemp flowers’ are cannabis and cannabis is a controlled drug in both the UK and Ireland.  As CLEAR has been warning for many months, there is no way that these can ever be ‘exempt products’ in the same way as CBD oil.  Their THC content makes no difference. The penalty is the same for any type of cannabis whether it contains zero THC or 25% THC.

It’s unclear whether CBD oil is legal at all in Ireland.  A more accurate description for these products is low-THC cannabis extracts and whereas the UK makes specific provision for exempt products in the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001, there does not seem to be any such provision in Irish law.

In other EU countries an even wider crackdown on CBD products is underway, fuelled also by the extraordinary and clearly unsustainable attempt to deem all cannabis extracts as ‘novel foods’.

Now it shouldn’t need to be said but CLEAR stands for an end to the prohibition of cannabis and all our work is directed towards that end.  Some people seem very confused that our efforts to clarify the law mean that we are on the side of prohibition but this is not the case.  Through our trade association, Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro) we refuse to certify businesses that sell cannabis flowers.  They are cheating their customers by misleading them that these products are legal.  They are also cheating all those other businesses operating within the legal cannabis sector who are working hard to remain compliant.  They are undermining the very good work that the CBD industry is doing to drive wider cannabis law reform.

Of course, many of us are buying cannabis illegally already.  Without our local dealers where would we all be under the oppressive and ridiculous regime under which we live? But our aim and the aim of all responsible cannabis campaigns is to ‘get the dealers off the street’ and move the trade into licensed, regulated outlets.  The emergence of the CBD market and high street retailers selling CBD oil has shown how this could work and there is no doubt at all that it has been a very significant factor in increasing public acceptance of cannabis and the recent reforms for medical access.

The people selling cannabis flowers and claiming they are legal are not heroes, campaigners or warriors in the war on prohibition. They are confidence tricksters, seizing the opportunity to make a quick buck by cheating and endangering their customers. No one is going to go to jail for buying cannabis but if you’ve bought low THC flowers and get charged with possession that could ruin you future prospects of travel, a career, even of keeping your driving licence.  If you’re going to take that risk you need to do so with your eyes open, with the honest trade of an illegal dealer rather than the dishonest trade of a shop or a website that is telling you lies.

Also, be very careful what you are buying.  The ‘CBD flowers’ currently being advertised are most certainly not what they claim to be.  The strain names are being misused.  White Widow, Lemon Haze or Pineapple Express do not come with 20% CBD and only traces of THC.  These products have been doctored.  There simply aren’t any cannabis strains that contain these constituents in these proportions.  What is probably happening is that they are being sprayed with CBD isolate and possibly terpene extracts to come with what are artificial cannabis buds.  Buy these and you are being cheated on many levels and you really don’t know what you are actually inhaling.

We are making steady and accelerating progress towards a rational cannabis policy but this latest development is unwelcome and unhelpful.  Trust your usual dealer.  If you’re buying cannabis flower, it comes with THC.  If you want added CBD take a little oil or vape some CBD crumble.  This will give you a far better result than these fake flowers. It will enhance the therapeutic properties of your cannabis if you’re consuming for medical reasons.  It will give you a far better buzz if you’re consuming for pleasure.

Nothing good will come from these fake flowers. Compliant businesses operating responsibly within the legal cannabis sector will help to drive reform. Blurring the lines between legal and illegal products will delay progress.

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 21, 2019 at 2:40 pm

The EU’s Attempt To Deem Cannabis Extracts As Novel Foods Will Fail.

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Status of Hemp Extracts in Europe – European Industrial Hemp Association

The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) has published an excellent eight page document which refutes the recent move by EU food safety agencies to deem cannabis extracts as ‘novel foods’.

Download the document here.

The document explains the entire situation and demonstrates very clearly that this move by the EU is misguided. It shows how these products have been consumed in Europe fro many years, if not centuries, probably millennia and that the EU has previously confirmed in writing that they are not novel.

Aside from these fundamental issues, there are a number of reasons why the process the EU and the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) have followed is flawed and unlawful.

What seems absolutely clear is that this initiative, which is intended to close down the burgeoning CBD market, is based on the intervention of vested interests which are concerned to see a multimillion pound/euro industry emerge in the space of a few years, almost exclusively amongst small and medium-sized businesses.  This is an opportunity which multinational conglomerates have missed and there is no doubt that its success is affecting many existing markets, notably over-the-counter pain medicines.

The EU and government agencies such as the FSA have always been the friends of big business and the intention here has been to force small business into huge costs associated with novel food authorisation which would effectively close their businesses down.

There are many overblown conspiracy theories, particularly around cannabis for medical use and the pharmaceutical industry but this attack on the CBD market, for no valid reason, is difficult to explain in any other way. It seems certain that improper pressure has been brought to bear on these regulators and they are trying to use their powers, improperly and unlawfully, to protect the interests of big business.

They are too late.  The CBD business has grown very quickly and is now too far advanced to be closed down and there is no justifiable reason to do so.  This attempt to impose novel foods status will fail.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 13, 2019 at 10:20 am

CannaPro Seizes the Initiative in the CBD and Novel Foods Debacle

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Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro), the trade association for the UK’s cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses, has instructed solicitors to take decisive action in the ongoing row between the Food Standards Agency (FSA) and the UK’s fastest-growing food supplement market for cannabidiol (CBD) products.

TLT Solicitors, acting on behalf of CannaPro, has sent a formal letter to the FSA warning it of the consequences of taking any enforcement action against CannaPro Certified Businesses.  An industry-wide claim for such compensation could amount to many hundreds of millions of pounds/euros.  A copy of the letter can be seen here. This offers some degree of protection to all businesses that are CannaPro Certified.

Acting in conjunction with its opposite numbers in several EU states, the FSA has sought to classify CBD products and all cannabis extracts as ‘novel’ by listing them in the EU Novel Food catalogue. This threatens to destroy a market that is now worth up to £100 million pa, employs hundreds of people and is meeting the healthcare and wellness needs of hundreds of thousands of UK citizens.

A ‘novel food’ is defined as a food or food ingredient that was not in widespread consumption in the EU area before 1997.  In reality, cannabis, in varieties known as hemp, has been consumed as food for at least 10,000 years and is listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s oldest cultivated crop. The FSA’s action is irrational, defies history and reverses previous statements by the FSA that cannabis and hemp are not ‘novel’.

Peter Reynolds, president of CannaPro, said:

“The FSA has made a series of errors in the way it has handled this.  The whole process has been misguided and unlawful, not to say that the whole idea CBD products can be regarded as novel is nonsense. It has undertaken no proper consultation and although there have been vague discussions around the issue for a couple of years, the FSA has changed its position time and time again.  What’s really going on here is that big business and powerful vested interests have been caught on the hop while enterprising small businesses have established a market which is now worth an awful lot of money. Improper pressure has been brought on the regulator to find a way of clamping down.  It would suit these vested interests to see the market so strictly regulated that small businesses are unable to compete.  CannaPro is not going to stand by and let that happen.”

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 26, 2019 at 6:00 pm

Asking Politicians to Order Doctors to Prescribe Cannabis is a Futile Quest

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Last year, when Sajid Javid introduced the new regulations permitting prescribing of cannabis-based products for medicinal use (CBPMs) he went much further than anyone could have expected.

For 50 years doctors had been told that cannabis was a highly toxic, dangerous drug with no therapeutic value.  Then, in the space of few weeks they were suddenly told by the Chief Medical Officer that there was “conclusive evidence” of therapeutic benefit. The truth is successive governments and the Home Office had been engaged in systematic disinformation and lies about cannabis. Suddenly they expected doctors to believe exactly the opposite of what they had been told before.

In fact, what Sajid Javid really did was to pass the buck, so while I have some sympathy for the predicament of doctors and total contempt for our pathetic political class, the buck is now in the right place.  However, we have a medical establishment that is so risk averse and so crushed by bureaucracy that it is transfixed by the challenge of getting to grips with cannabis and there is a total lack of leadership from the Royal Colleges or any of the professional bodies. The ultimate demonstration of this is that the British Paediatric Neurology Association wants doctors to consider brain surgery for epilepsy before prescribing cannabis.  This is a profession that has lost touch with reality and common sense.

The result is that doctors will not prescribe cannabis but the idea that they can be ordered to do so by politicians is a non-starter.  It is difficult to understand what campaigners hope to achieve by marching on Westminster and lobbying MPs.

Eventually, the efforts that are being made in medical education will bear fruit and doctors will start to prescribe but this will take time and many will suffer while they wait for doctors to catch up with what is already well understood in many parts of the world.

So what can be done?

Government can take action on two fronts which will accelerate progress. First of all, improve supply.  By its own admission, in response to an FOI Request, the Home Office has done nothing to facilitate production of CBPMs. This could be changed immediately. There is a queue of well qualified and financed companies ready to develop production facilities.  While Sajid Javid cannot order doctors to prescribe, he can order his reluctant and backwards officials to issue licences.  Within a year we can have a domestic supply of CBPMs and the doctors will have something to prescribe and products they can become familiar with.

The second way government can act is on regulation.  Doctors are terrified of cannabis and need reassurance. Everything they have been taught goes against prescribing cannabis.

However, cannabis is safe for 99% of people. We know this from 10,000 years of experience. The hysterical scaremongering from places such as the Institute of Psychiatry are actually aboput a tiny proportion of people using high strength cannabis as a recreational drug, a totally different circumstance to a high quality medicinal product used under close supervision. As a plant-based medicine, cannabis contains 400 – 500 molecules unlike pharmaceutical medicines which are usually a single molecule. It is impossible therefore to regulate cannabis in the same way as pharmaceuticals and given millennia of experience it is unnecessary.

In every other jurisdiction in the world where cannabis has been made legally available for medical use a separate system of regulation for it has been established. Until UK follows this path, the pharmaceutical-funded medical establishment will never accept cannabis as a legitimate medicine.

So what politicans can do is free up the supply chain for CBPMs and regulate them in an appropriate and rational way.  This is where we need to be focused in order to make progress and bring relief and a healthier life to millions.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 19, 2019 at 1:26 pm

CBD Isolates Are NOT Becoming A Controlled Substance

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Mike Harlington’s CTA has put out an announcement that CBD isolates are becoming a controlled substance.  There is no truth in this at all, it is nothing but speculation and opinion.

Even if the speculation is correct that isolates will remain classified as a novel food, the terminology is wrong. ‘Controlled’ has a specific meaning in UK law and is applied to drugs classified and scheduled under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.  There is no prospect whatsoever of this applying to CBD in any form.

It is correct that the FSA initially classified isolates as novel in January 2018 and no reasonable person can have any objection to this.  Clearly, there cannot be any evidence of them having been consumed in the EU area prior to 1997.  It’s a separate point that this is bureaucratic overkill.  There’s no evidence that isolates are unsafe so there’s no reason to require them to go through an authorisation process except simply to comply with the letter of the law. It is bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake and a complete waste of the FSA’s time and taxpayers’ money.

Another, more pertinent point is that despite isolates being classified as novel for well over a year, the FSA has done absolutely nothing about enforcement.  This whole rigmarole is pointless and doing little else other than keeping civil servants in work, making up rules which they then do nothing about.

What remains a far more worrying prospect, which has been entirely overlooked, is that in June 2018, the FSA also indicated that selective extracts would be regarded as novel. The argument for this is equally as strong and logical as it is for isolates and this poses a much more worrying prospect for the CBD industry.

Selective extracts are extracts in which the proportions of the component moleclues have been adjusted, most commonly by the elimination of THC.  Making such adjustments, dialling up or down particular components is an inherent facility of supercritical CO2 extraction. But just as there can be no evidence of isolates having been consumed in the EU area prior to 1997, neither can there be any for selective extracts.  Extracts consumed in the past will have been made by less sophisticated processes that do not permit such adjustments.

So the deep irony in this is that in order to avoid any infringement of drugs laws by removing the THC, such products will be in breach of food law.

Where the FSA is going with this no one knows. It has made major errors in its bungling and incompetent attempt to outlaw CBD products and its top priority now seems to be saving face.  Similarly, having bragged about his mythical ‘close working relationship’ with the FSA, Harlington is also desperately trying to save face and make it look as if he is ahead of the game.  It’s just more of his characteristic bluster and bullshit.  Don’t be taken in.

Any predictions I will make about the future will also be speculation but I am quite confident that this time next year whole plant, low-THC cannabis extracts will still be on sale. In fact I am sure that the market will have continued to expand rapidly.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 13, 2019 at 10:35 pm