Peter Reynolds

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A Cautionary Tale On Cannabis

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This New York Times article is causing ructions throughout the industry in USA but I have sympathy with some of what it says (although it does dip into ‘reefer madness’ tropes as well). For instance “THC concentrates are as close to the cannabis plant as strawberries are to frosted strawberry pop tarts”. This seems pretty fair to me and while I love concentrates when I can get hold of them, I’m an old timer. The idea of those under 25 having easy, regular access to unlimited quantities does concern me. I’m not advocating prohibition, of course but there doesn’t seem to be an understanding of how potent these are compared to flower.

It has always been the case that younger brains need to be more careful with cannabis. Of course, although state-legal almost everywhere, cannabis is still federally prohibited, so there is no chance for a nationwide understanding that you don’t swig absinthe all day like you might beer. This is certainly something we must be careful about as legalisation comes to UK and Ireland

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 27, 2022 at 6:07 pm

Don’t Believe a Word the FSA Says About CBD.

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It’s reported in The Times and the Daily Mail today that many CBD products must be withdrawn from sale because of ‘safety concerns’. This follows a week of slavish repetition in the media of the FSA’s line that its publication of a list of 3,500 products that ‘might’ be authorised in the future is a “milestone” for the industry.

To be more accurate, it’s the line it’s devised in conjunction with the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), the most recently formed trade association in the sector which, although repesenting only about 20 of the hundreds of CBD companies, now has privileged access and preferential treatment with the FSA. There is no doubt that the relationship between the two is improper and possibly corrupt. Dishonesty, deceit and underhand behaviour have been in play for at least the past year in order to give ACI and its members a commercial advantage and help the FSA create, on the basis of zero credible evidence, a massively expensive system that benefits no one else except its bureaucracy, least of all consumers.

This is nothing to do with safety. There are no reports from anywhere in the world at any time of anyone coming to any harm from CBD products.

The safety scare is entirely invented by the FSA in order to build its massive new, wholly unnecessary bureaucracy. They have been supported and encouraged by the ACI, most of its members dealing primarily in nasty, ineffective isolate products, not the ‘whole plant’ products which millions of people have found great benefit from.

CBD isolate needs to be taken at doses at least 10 times greater than whole plant products, doesn’t work anywhere near as well and because of the huge doses often causes stomach upsets.

This is a classic case of big business using financial muscle and influence to get the regulator to apply misguided, massively expensive over-regulation which squeezes out the smaller suppliers and bloats the bureaucracy.

It’s corrupt and the people who are harmed by it are consumers.

What was a fantastic British success story is being destroyed by vested interests squashing the small businesses that created the market.

The CBD market does need better regulation and the two longstanding trade associations, the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) and CannaPro, had implemented very effective self-regulation of their members. What that needed to work was for the two regulators concerned, the FSA and the MHRA, to crack down on the unregulated end of the market but they both failed dismally to fulfil their responsibilities. The MHRA simply washed its hands of its duty to enforce the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, which meant widespread, unlawful claims of medical benefit from cowboy traders. The FSA spurned all the work that CTA and CannaPro had done with it over the previous five years and formed its unlawful relationship with the multimillionaire backers of ACI.

There are just two issues which need addressing in regulating CBD products: what the products contain and how they are marketed. This is the effective and inexpensive approach that CTA and CannaPro were taking and is explained in detail in this article published a year ago: The FSA’s Intervention in the CBD Market is a Farce. Here’s the Clear and Simple Solution.

The effect of the FSA’s action has already been to destroy many small businesses and hundreds of jobs. What lies ahead is a two-tier market: the FSA/ACI ‘authorised products’ which will be ineffective, isolate-based and available in high street chains; and ‘real’ whole plant CBD products, which are what work and what consumers want, operating in a black market, either online or through independent retailers.

Don’t buy CBD isolate products. You will be wasting your money.

Update on the Food Standards Agency’s CBD Fiasco

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At midday today the FSA will publish a ‘public list’ of 3500 CBD products on its website.

What does it mean? What are the products? Does this mean they are legally allowed to be on sale?

These and many other questions come to mind, as a result of which I arranged an online meeting this morning with Paul Tossell, Team Leader on Novel Foods with the FSA.

I only became aware of today’s announcement because I heard from a journalist friend that there was an advance media briefing yesterday. You may well ask and I certainly did, why were the media being briefed before the industry? My roles in CLEAR, CannaPro, the Cannabis Industry Council (CIC) and my past role in the Cannabis Trades Association (CTA) mean that I am well established, along with others, as a stakeholder. Yet, neither I nor anyone else in any of the trade bodies have been contacted by the FSA – except that is, of course, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) and its sister organisation, the Centre for Medicinal Cannabis (CMC). That is no surprise at all to anyone who knows the history of the FSA’s blunder into the CBD market. It has an improper relationship with ACI/CMC and the three of them have conspired together to create an absurd bureaucracy of vastly expensive but wholly unnecessary regulations which no doubt give preferential status to the few, large companies, mostly in the CBD isolate business, which are associated with ACI/CMC.

My meeting with Paul Tossell followed exactly the same format as all the other meetings I have had with him and his colleagues over the past years. It was a monologue. I couldn’t get a word in edgeways and all Tossell was interested in was very long, very turgid, pointless explanations of the FSA’s process. He wouldn’t answer any of my questions properly.

This is what I have learned.

None of the 3500 products on the list are ‘legal’ in the FSA’s terms and Trading Standards may remove and confiscate any of them at any time. All 3500 are the result of just five novel foods applications which have been ‘validated’ and 65 applications which have not yet been ‘validated’ but look like they are ‘work in progress’ towards providing the information necessary for validation.

Apparently the purpose of the list is to help Trading Standards set its priorities for enforcement. So if a product isn’t on the list it stands no chance of ever being officially ‘legal’. In fact, as has been obvious all along and as I now have from a source right at the top of Trading Standards, it doesn’t have the resources or the intention of going after CBD products. It has far more important things to do, such as going after products which genuinely are dangerous.

As anyone who knows me will confirm, I am no shy and retiring type but I had to be extremely forceful and insistent to try and get a couple of key questions to Tossell, neither of which were answered.

Firstly, what is the basis for this intervention, what evidence do you have that these products can be harmful? This was dismissed as “You’ve got it the wrong way round.” He’d already said that “Consumers need to know the product is safe, that’s the whole point of this.” I couldn’t get any answer and of course the truth is there is no evidence of any danger, or of anyone ever coming to any harm. All Tossell can do is repeatedly refer back to his bureaucratic process which is entirely for its own sake and has no substantive purpose.

My second question was that the scope of novel foods was originally defined by the FSA as being about products that are selective extracts from cannabis. As I’ve been asking for years, what about genuine whole plant extracts which are non-selective extracts? Back came the same old non-answer, side-stepping the question and referring to cold pressed products. When I pressed him that other methods of extraction could be non-selective, he simply denied this and refused to discuss it any further, saying it had been “settled” two years ago.

Novel food applications which have been ‘validated’ will still need to go through further processes. Risk assessment where an independent scientific body will give an opinion. Then risk management where any necessary actions will be determined and finally, extraordinarily, every single product which is to be determined as ‘legal’ will have to be named in a Statutory Instrument which will have to be passed into law by Parliament.

The absurdity and pointlessness of all this is beyond doubt but it is more serious than that. The only evidence on which the FSA’s concern for any harm is based is experiments on rats by GW Pharmaceuticals with its CBD isolate medicine, Epidiolex, administered at doses hundreds or thousands of times the equivalent in humans. And the conflict of interest is obvious. I am no enemy of GW, on the contrary I admire the company and its work but it has the only licensed CBD medicine and its interest would be to restrict access to non-licensed products.

Also, it is my honest opinion that the relationship between the FSA and ACI/CMC is corrupt. Dishonesty, deceit and obfusaction are being used for the purposes of gain, both in a commercial sense and for the sake of bureaucratic power.

All that the FSA’s intervention in the CBD market will achieve, aside from the enormous damage to businesses and jobs, is to promote the black market. For consumers the situation is only going to get worse. They will have the choice of ‘legal’ but useless, ineffective, isolate-based products or the wild west of totally unregulated products, some of which are the ‘real thing’ but many of which are produced and marketed by cowboys.

I set out a year ago the two very simple steps which, taken together, will completely solve the regulatory requirements for the CBD market.

The FSA’s actions are without any real purpose. The novel foods regulations are solely for their own sake and establish a pointless bureaucratic process at huge expense which will only make things worse for consumers.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 31, 2022 at 11:50 am

Still ‘Insufficient Evidence’ for the NHS to Fund Medicinal Cannabis – or What’s it Really About?

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The laboratory evidence for medicinal cannabis is through the roof in proof of efficacy and safety. The observational clinical evidence is also conclusive.

The evidence that is ‘lacking’ is that which fits in with the medical establishment’s well-established formula for making senior clinicians rich. The same doctors that write the guidelines are the ones who earn the very fat fees for running clinical trials and decide which evidence is valid and which isn’t. When the Royal Colleges and the professional medical bodies have worked out a way to get cannabis under their control, suddenly all the evidence will be OK. Then the committees and advisory boards that these same doctors sit on will turn on the NHS funding tap.

Until then, doctors are frightened of cannabis. A medicine that works, that is safer than virtually all the pills you can buy over-the-counter and has powerful, beneficial effects for a very wide range of conditions is a real threat to vested interests and doctors’ status. It shakes their world and so they are eager to disparage it, exaggerate its risks and diminish its efficacy.

Only when the medical establishment understands how its pre-eminence is going to be maintained, knows where fees and prestige are coming from, then cannabis will be ‘discovered’ by the NHS and all the benefits to patients and in reduced costs will follow.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 27, 2022 at 10:21 am

Home Affairs Committee Inquiry into Drugs. Evidence Doesn’t Work with Politicians, Will Common Sense?

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I am unable to share my detailed response to the inquiry until it has formally accepted and published it. However, this introduction explains the basis of my submission.

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I am the president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform, the longest established and largest membership-based cannabis policy group in the UK, founded in 1999 with more than 600,000 followers. We represent people who support cannabis law reform, not all but most are also cannabis consumers. We are committed to a responsible, science and evidence-based approach.

I have participated in the cannabis law reform campaign for over 40 years. For over 30 years I have worked professionally in healthcare and medicine and for the past 10 years in the legal cannabis and cannabinoid industry.

The committee’s first inquiry into drugs was in 1983. I submitted evidence then at the tender age of 26 and to every inquiry since up to this year’s at the age of 64.

What stands out in all these inquiries is the overwhelming weight of evidence and opinion in favour of radical reform.  Yet despite this, apart from the legalisation of access to prescribed medicinal cannabis in 2018, no progress has been made.  On the contrary, politicians continue to prefer to posture as ‘tough on drugs’ rather than follow evidence or public opinion.

There is no doubt of the failure of current policy, yet both major parties continue to stick rigidly to prohibition. This despite the highest ever level of drug deaths, the de facto decriminalisation of cannabis by police and widespread contempt for our drug laws demonstrated by colossal consumption, particularly of cannabis, cocaine and ecstasy (MDMA) by people of all ages and social backgrounds.

There is also no doubt of the cost of this failed policy, estimated to be in the region of £20 billion per annum, and that it drives crime, violence, gangsterism and the breakdown of cohesion in society.  One of the common misconceptions, which ministers dishonestly promote, is that it is drugs that drive these problems when in fact it is almost always policy that is the cause. Present policy directly supports and encourages organised crime.

What will it take for politicians to grasp this nettle?

Clearly, erudite submissions of evidence and logical argument do not work, however well qualified or experienced the source. Despite many politicians’ admissions of drug use, once in office they choose to continue with policies that, had they been caught with illegal drugs, would probably disqualify them from the jobs they now hold. Frequently, when they leave office they suddenly reverse their position and support reform. This brazen hypocrisy causes great damage to our society and contributes to widespread contempt for our political system.

So, in this submission, I address the issues concerned with common sense. For instance, specifically on cannabis, it is easily possible to find scientific evidence either maximising its dangers or minimising them. In the UK, mainly due to research at the Institute of Psychiatry, we have a particularly extreme point of view on its likelihood to cause mental illness but this is unique in the world. Most other countries take a far more balanced approach and the media is not as hysterical about these potential harms.  It is possible to swap studies ad infinitum and nothing is achieved by this. Instead, I propose the common sense that since the 1960s the number of cannabis consumers has risen from about zero to about 3 million, yet there is no correlation at all with the rate of diagnosed mental illness which is steady or declining.

The fantastic statistical projections from the Institute of Psychiatry, using the most esoteric mathematical formulae, drive fear about cannabis but they simply do not match the real word experience of the millions of people who regularly consume the drug.  It is this sort of mismatch that paralyses our ability to reach a consensus. This is why I believe that far more weight needs to be given to common sense.

Drug use is a normal part of life for most people. The distinction between drugs which are legally permitted, alcohol and tobacco, and drugs which are banned is, in itself, extremely harmful. Alcohol and tobacco are two of the most harmful drugs, much more harmful than many drugs that are banned. It is common sense that the law should guide people accurately, not mislead them as at present.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 24, 2022 at 1:55 pm

The Times Picks up the Reefer Madness Baton from the Daily Mail

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Stigmatising cannabis consumers and patients with one-sided and biased reporting is irresponsible misinformation, not journalism

It’s that time of year, King’s College Institute of Psychiatry has started its fundraising round so it’s time for the annual cannabis and psychosis scare story.

Over the past 10 years, in January or February each year, a press release goes out with its lead researchers, Professor Sir Robin Murray and Dr Marta di Forti, pushing another set of extremely scary statistics about how cannabis is driving consumers insane.

This year, two things are different, Firstly, there’s no new study, just repetition of previous claims.  Secondly, instead of being led by the Daily Mail, it’s The Times that has taken up the role of terrifying parents and this year there’s also a new story about over-55s who are ‘addicted’ to cannabis.

The Times’ reputation as the newspaper of record and the supreme example of English-language journalism has been faltering for some time. The decline started, inevitably, when Rupert Murdoch bought the newspaper in 1981.  It’s now tabloid-sized and, surprisingly often, tabloid in its style and disdain for the truth. In the main it is still a good source of news reporting and has an honourable record in covering the increasing acceptance of and value in the medical use of cannabis.

However, starting in September 2021 with a major feature in the Sunday magazine by Megan Agnew,‘Cannabis psychosis: how super-powered skunk blew our minds’, it has become an uncritical promoter and advocate for everything that comes out of King’s College about cannabis.

Ms Agnew interviewed me at length several months before her piece was published and I dare say she spoke to other people on the reform side of the debate as well.  Certainly not one word of what I said made it into print.  It might as well be a paid-for advertorial for Marta di Forti and Robin Murray’s work.

I’ve met Robin Murray several times. In fact, I once sat next to him for two days in a conference held in the House of Lords. In person he’s nowhere near the anti-cannabis zealot he’s portrayed as in the press and there are other people in his team who I have worked with on research projects who I think, although they wouldn’t say it, are actually on my side!  Nevertheless, the message about their research that is portrayed in the media is clearly deliberate and it is wildly misleading.

This is best demonstrated by going to the Lancet website, where all the Murray/di Forti papers are published and reading the other scientists who debunk both the results and the methodology that Murray/di Forti use.  Of course, this never gets mentioned in the press. The Times has completely excluded it from all its coverage.  Go to https://www.thelancet.com/ and search for ‘High-potency cannabis and incident psychosis: correcting the causal assumption’. You’ll see a whole new perspective on King’s College and its scientists.

This obsession with demonising cannabis is centred on the UK, precisely because of the endlessly repetitive work carried out at King’s College and the appetite that British press has for sensationalising it.  Australia also suffers from it to some degree but nowhere else in the world experiences the same systematic, ludicrous scaremongering.  That’s not to say that the potential dangers of cannabis as a psychoactive substance are ignored, they’re simply given proportionate recognition.  Clearly anything that affects the mind can, potentially, cause harm and needs consideration, just as we do with alcohol, coffee, energy drinks and many medicines. Sadly there will always be casualties but provided we do all we can to minimise them, they do not justify prohibition.  The evidence is clear that always causes more harm than good and it is self-evident that harm is better controlled and casualties more effectively prevented in a legal environment, not in a market run by gangsters and organised crime.

 

A Very Large Majority of those Entering Cannabis ‘Treatment’ Are Coerced Into It By Authorities.

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This is very difficult data to track down but it’s a fact that needs to be clearly understood as the hard right, authoritarian press ramps up its anti-cannabis scaremongering this week.

Coercive medical treatment is unethical and possibly, in some cases, illegal but it is the principal route by which people in the UK are forced into GP and community health ‘treatment’ for cannabis ‘addiction’ or ‘cannabis use disorder’ as it is now termed.

Most people are told to go into treatment by the courts in return for a lighter sentence or no sentence at all. Young people are also ordered into treatment by the courts or by their school or college as an alternative to being expelled.

Public Health England’s own data showed that 89% of under-18s in treatment were coerced into it, only in 11% of cases did the patient themselves or their families believe they needed it.

SOURCE: Unfortunately as with so much drugs related information, the government has ceased to collect the data and the archives have been removed. The organisation Public Health England has now been shut down but for the sake of accuracy this was the source of this information: Table 2.4.1 http://www.nta.nhs.uk/uploads/young-peoples-statistics-from-the-ndtms-1-april-2015-to-31-march-2016.pdf

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

January 11, 2022 at 6:52 pm

Our Immigration Policy Costs Lives with Exactly the Same Muddled Thinking As Our Drugs Policy

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The parallels are exact. It’s all about supply and demand. Just as there is a huge demand for drugs, there is huge demand to come and live in the UK. Unless legitimate access is provided at reasonable cost and convenience then it is inevitable that criminals will move in to meet that demand.

People are dying because of the way our government enforces these brutal, badly-thought out policies. Preventing these deaths has to be our priority. Prejudice about drug consumers and xenophobia about refugees has to be put aside.

We have the same slow-witted, myopic politicians in charge of both policies and they are incapable of addressing these issues rationally. Don’t think it’s just the Conservatives though, the Labour Party is barely any different. In fact, to listen to the shadow home secretary, Nick Thomas-Symonds, it’s easy to see him being even more hardline on drugs and immigration than Priti Patel.

It’s a truism that all politicians are the same but certainly on these dog whistle issues in Britain, both parties seem to compete to see who can appease Daily Mail readers most effectively and win their support.

Politicians hold delusional and arrogant beliefs that the ‘messages they send’ actually make any difference to people and that when they make laws people are going to obey them without question. When people see that laws are irrational, unfair and work against their interests they don’t want to obey. And when we’re referring to issues of vital importance such as coping with addiction or being able to live decently and in peace with your family, politicians’ pathetic, badly-thought out rules are the last thing that anyone will follow.

You only have to watch these fools of ministers and MPs rolled out in front of the cameras to comment on the latest tragedy, be it the 27 people who drowned in the channel last week, the latest drug deaths figures or the number of young people whose prospects have been ruined because they were caught with a bit of weed, a gram of cocaine or a couple of ecstasy tablets.

“We have to crack down on these vile criminal gangs,” they say. Which is correct, of course, the only long-term solution is to remove the trade in drugs and immigration from the gangsters. But that really isn’t the point, is it? While people are still overloading tiny inflatable dinghies to cross the channel or selling sexual services to be able to inject heroin cut with cement dust into their veins, they are where the focus should be. There’s no purpose trying to divert attention to criminals who don’t care anyway. Government’s responsibility is to protect people, first and foremost.

Applying for refugee status is a right, not a privilege and government has to make this accessible, practical and reasonably convenient. It’s our stupid laws that are making people get into these boats because they can’t apply for asylum until they get here. We should permit people to apply for asylum at any British embassy anywhere in the world. If they can demonstrate to a reasonable standard of proof that they are fleeing war or persecution, we must give them asylum there and then. That is our legal and moral obligation.

Our irresponsible politicians are the cause of these criminal gangs, whether they are supplying the entry to Britain or the access to drugs that people want. If these demands were being satisfactorily met, with appropriate controls, the gangsters would be put out of business.

We need emergency solutions to cope with the disaster that our politicians have created. For refugees that means enabling asylum claims from outside our borders. For drugs it means overdose prevention centres and a return to the very succesful ‘British System’ of the 1960s where addicts were prescribed diamorphine (pharmaceutical grade heroin). Under this system we had about 3,000 registered addicts in the UK. Since we scrapped it in favour of hard line prohibition that figure has grown to 350,000.

Perhaps the most difficult aspect of both these problems is that our politicians have got them both wrong, very wrong and they are going to have to admit that in order to implement the solution. Can they? Are they ‘man enough’ to admit their mistakes. Because what is certain, without doubt, is that politicians are the problem.

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 28, 2021 at 12:22 pm

Posted in Health, Politics

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

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Lorraine Nolan, Chief Executive, HPRA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 20, 2021 at 5:46 pm

IRELAND. Politicians And Gardai Who Want To Keep Cannabis Banned are on the Same Side as the Drugs Gangsters.

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In Ireland, 90% of people support the use of cannabis for medical purposes and, remarkably, nearly a third support legalisation for recreational use. So cannabis is very popular indeed. A great deal of money is spent on it, all of which goes into the pockets of criminals. Some are just friends of friends and not really causing any harm but move a step or two up the chain and right to the top it’s gangsters and organised crime. What they earn from cannabis goes into funding far more serious criminal activity with violence never far away. And the largely futile efforts to stop the cannabis trade cost Irish taxpayers hundreds of millions of euros.

So why isn’t the government taking action to enable access for medical use, to regulate an adult use market, save hundreds of millions of euros and pull the rug from underneath organised crime?

Evidence from other jurisdictions proves beyond doubt that a regulated market would remove most of the trade from criminals, cut related crime, protect consumers, control the stength and quality of the product and reduce all harms.

So why do they do nothing? Why do they refuse even to engage with the public on the subject?

You’d think they actually choose to be on the same side as the gangsters. I doubt that’s the case but the end result is the same: Micheál Martin; Leo Varadkar; Frank Feighan, the drugs minister; Eamon Ryan, whose party claims to support drugs reform; every member of the government and their officials, including Commissioner Drew Harris, stand right alongside the Hutch mob, the Kinahans and the other peddlers in misery and violence.

What’s most remarkable is that even the government’s efforts to meet public demand for medical access have been nothing short of pathetic. Four years after the Medical Cannabis Access Programme (MCAP) was announced, it is still not operational. In fact it’s nothing but a joke and, short of an outright ban, is the most restrictive medicinal cannabis programme of any nation anywhere in the world. It raises all sorts of important questions why the Irish medical establishment has such well organised opposition to medicinal cannabis and simply dismisses the vast amount of evidence in favour.  Ireland is isolated in this backwards and cruel policy.

Several large multinationals have tried to invest millions of euros in developing a medicinal cannabis industry, which would create hundreds of new, well paid jobs. But regulators at the Department of Health and Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) block and endlessly delay as if those are their instructions.

The Irish goverment’s policy on cannabis is confused, irrational and impossible to understand. The bottom line is that it is opaque and no one will respond or engage on the subject. That usually means they have something to hide. It could just be that they recognise their own incompetence on the issue. Or it could be something more sinister.

The Irish Cannabis Market.

According to the 2019–20 Irish National Drug and Alcohol Survey, 20.7% of 15-64 year olds have consumed cannabis in their lifetime and 7.1% report recent use, that’s nearly 300,000 people. Cannabis valued at €15.2 million was seized by Gardai in 2020 although based on typical valuations by law enforcement this is certainly an over-valuation.

Based on research carried out in the UK, adjusted pro rata for population size, the value of the cannabis market in Ireland is estimated at a minimum of €225 million and possibly as much as €675 million. It is costing the Irish state a great deal of time and money in law enforcement costs. Drug offences account for 11% of all recorded offences and of these nearly 69% are for personal possession most of which are for cannabis. With a €3 billion budget for justice in 2021 drug law enforcement would appear to cost around €330 million, most of which is for cannabis.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 14, 2021 at 6:32 pm