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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Cannabis and CBD. UK and EU Bureaucrats -v- The People and Parliament.

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For decades, public opinion and knowledge on cannabis has been way ahead of those in Parliament and civil servants in the Home Office and the Department of Health.

In other countries, governments have been more ready to update themselves on scientific knowledge and they are more speedily held to account through more effective democracies. At last, the UK Parliament has acted on access to cannabis for medical use as it should have 20 years ago.  Both Canada and the Netherlands introduced legal access in 2001 and California even five years before that.

But the will of Parliament is being stifled and subverted by bureaucracts in the NHS and the Department of Health.  As MPs are never shy to remind us, under our constitution, Parliament is supreme.  That makes the conduct of these civil servants unlawful.  They are being obstructive about the prescribing of cannabis.  They need to be compliant with the law or they become guilty of maladminstration.  We should have no more patience with this wilful misconduct.  Their responsibility is to facilitate implementation of the law, not find ways to delay it because of their personal opinions.

The same goes for the Home Office which has done absolutely nothing to revise its cannabis licensing policy in accordance with the new regulations.  Well-qualified, experienced, international corporations, willing to make multimillion pound investments in Britain to produce the cannabis-based products (CBPMs) which we need are being refused licences for no good reason. If the products are not available, how will they ever reach the patients who Parliament has decreed are entitled to access them?

For 50 years, the Home Office has run a systematic campaign of disinformation because it is institutionally opposed to cannabis. Until Sajid Javid, civil servants have thwarted the efforts of all minsters that have tried to introduce any drugs policy reform.  Now he has to stand up against the subversive forces within his own department or someone has to fund judical review of the Home Office’s maladminstration of cannabis licensing. Just as in the Windrush Scandal, the Home Office maintains a ‘hostile environment’ based on senior civil servants’ personal prejudices rather than the best interests of Britain and now, the law.

CBD. Big Pharma Protectionism, Bureaucrat Box-Ticking or Both?

Many people are not yet aware of the meddling that is going on with CBD products.  There is a real threat that they could be removed from sale within the next few months.  This depsite their soaring popularity with the public and that hundreds, if not thousands of people are now employed in our burgeoning CBD industry.

CBD products are, in fact, whole plant extracts from low-THC cannabis which meet the criteria under drugs law to be exempt.  They have become very popular because people were seeking a legal way of accessing the medicinal benefits of cannabis which have become widely understood, mainly as the internet has provided knowledge previously suppressed by government and media scaremongering.

Two years ago, the meddling began as civil servants from the MHRA, the medicines regulator, stepped in with heavy-handed threats to close the market down because of unlawful medicinal claims.  To be fair, there was good justification for this.  Medicines regulation is an essential function of government, otherwise we will have snake oil confidence tricksters selling coloured water as a cancer cure.  So CLEAR acted and organised a response to the MHRA from the leading CBD companies.  Now, the responsible and ethical companies have regulated themselves, stopped making medicinal claims and market their products as food supplements, just like vitamins and minerals than can help to maintain health and boost wellness.

So CBD companies have successfully negotiated their way through both drugs and medicines law but now the food police have stepped in with yet more problems.  This time the civil servants objections are entirely unnecessary and unjustifiable but they are the most serious threat that CBD companies and consumers have faced.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) from the UK and its opposite numbers in other EU countries have placed cannabis extracts in the EU Novel Foods Catalogue, which is for products that have not been consumed to a significant degree in the EU before 1997. This means that without going through a lengthy and very expensive authorisation process, all CBD products could become unlawful to sell.

Why?  When I met with the FSA and its novel foods team just over a week ago, it acknowledged that the purpose of the novel foods regulations was to ensure that food products and supplements are safe.  It also confirmed that it had no evidence that cannabis extracts or CBD products are unsafe. So, on the face of it, this seems to be simply a matter of bureaucrats who want their boxes ticked, for no other reason than that is what bureaucrats do.

But the widely-held opinion from those in the know, is that what is really behind this are the vested interests of painkiller companies who are seeing a big impact on sales of their products. Even the World Health Organization has recently given CBD an unequivocal endorsement as safe and effective, whereas the toxicity of paracetamol, ibuprofen, other NSAIDs and opioids is now well understood.

You see, however CBD products are sold, it is an indisputable fact that they are purchased for their medicinal benefit – and that they work.  This is a big threat to pharmaceutical company profits and so they are wielding their big stick.  They tried through the MHRA to close down CBD and now they are trying through the FSA.

Exactly the same thing is happening in the USA.  The recent passage of the Farm Bill has removed CBD from the Controlled Substances Act but now the FDA (which combines the functions of our MHRA and FSA) has stepped in and said it is illegal to sell as a food supplement because it is the active ingredient in a licensed medicine.

We Will Overcome

So a battle royal is starting.  What the outcome will be is uncertain.  It is complex and multi-threaded.  Different strategies are being developed and varying ideas are being put forward as to how to deal with this threat.  Many people now rely on CBD for their health and the imminent threat of it not being available is a danger to individuals and so to our entire society.

Whatever happens, I am certain that commonsense and the people will prevail.  For a century, the use of cannabis as medicine has continued despite every effort from governments and vested interests to stamp it out.  The same will happen with CBD.  Even it it disappears from the high street, it will continue to be available online and if it can’t be sold as a food supplement, it will move into a new category.

Once again, it will take politicians far too long to wake up and out-of-control civil servants will try to pursue their own agenda which, I am quite sure, is under the corrupt and improper influence of big business.  It will be challenging and very difficult but the people have dealt with these dark forces before and we will continue to do so.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

February 10, 2019 at 2:19 pm

Daily Mail Profits From Illegal Advertising For Cannabis

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On the same day that the Mail publishes yet another inaccurate and misleading article on cannabis and CBD in particular, it is carrying a full page advertisement for CBD which breaches medicines, food and advertising law.

The ad, from Woods Supplements at https://www.woodshealth.com/, claims medicinal benefits for its product for joint pain, migraine, psoriasis, acne, depression, pain and inflammation.

While there is probably a substantial amount of truth in these claims, it is unlawful to make them without the product having a licence or marketing authorisation (MA) from the MHRA.

Why does this matter? I advocate for the medicinal use of cannabis in all its forms, so why would I object to any company making these claims?

Medicines regulation is essential, otherwise we will have people selling bottles of coloured water as a cancer cure.  Most CBD companies are responsible and understand it is unlawful to make medicinal claims, so irresponsible companies like Woods Supplements need to be stopped.  They are stealing business from responsible companies. So Woods Supplements is NOT a reputable company as it claims in its ad.

But despite the MHRA regularly flexing its muscles and talking tough, it does nothing.  There is simply no enforcement going on. Remember in 2016, it threatened to shut the entire CBD industry down over medicinal claims?  Most companies work extremely hard at considerable cost to stay compliant but the MHRA does nothing to support them.

As for the Daily Mail, scourge of truth about cannabis, profiting by illegal advertising, what should be done?  Well as these offences can result in a two year jail term and the publisher and editor of the Daily Mail are clearly complicit in them, when we can expect to see them marched from their desks in handcuffs?

Presumably the directors of Woods Supplements will be waiting at HMP Brixton to welcome them.

Written by Peter Reynolds

January 30, 2019 at 4:53 pm

Another Attack by Bureaucrats on CBD and its Consumers

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Today’s article in the Daily Mail on CBD follows that publication’s usual pattern – there is a kernel of truth but on top of that is piled inaccuracy upon misleading comment upon nonsense.

So let’s deal with the truth and send the nonsense back to the Daily Mail where it belongs.

Within the last few days it has emerged that the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), has been working surreptitiously with its opposite numbers in four other EU countries to add all products derived from cannabis except hempseeds to the EU Novel Food Catalogue. This step has been taken without any communication or consultation with the CBD industry or the millions of consumers benefiting from the products. It is important to understand that inclusion in this catalogue does not create law.  Suppliers of CBD are entitled to continue marketing their products if they consider they are not ‘novel’.

What does ‘novel’ mean?  The EU novel foods legislation states that any food or ingredient used in foods that was not in widespread use prior to 1997 will be subject to an authorisation process that must demonstrate either evidence of widespread use prior to 1997 and/or that it is safe.

To be clear, the Daily Mail’s claim that this means “experts probe whether it has any real health benefits” is nonsense. It has nothing to do with that at all.

Love Hemp, CBD market leaders

Anyone who has any knowledge at all about cannabis will understand how ludicrous it is to suggest that it is ‘novel’ in any form.  It is even described as the oldest cultivated plant in the Guinness Book of Records. It is widely recognised to have been cultivated for at least 12,000 years.

So this move by the FSA and its equivalents in France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands is, demonstrably, bureaucracy for bureaucracy’s sake. Cannabis is the oldest crop cultivated and used by mankind. Asking for evidence of its widespread use before 1997 is no different and as absurd as asking for the same evidence for wheat or barley.

The CBD industry and consumers faced a similar atack from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in 2016.  Then, as now, it was CLEAR that stepped in and organised the response.  The MHRA quickly backed off, accepted that it had no power to carry out a wholesale shutdown of the industry and the leading CBD companies began a process of self-regulation which has led to the development of a very successful marketplace.  Millions of consumers now gain great benefit from CBD products which help to maintain health and improve wellbeing.

Whichever side of the Brexit debate you are on, it is precisely this sort of overbearing, oppressive bureaucracy at an EU level that led many people to vote leave. There can be no sensible suggestion that CBD is harmful.  In 2017, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published an unequivocal conclusion that CBD “does not cause harm”. It is, therefore, safe and is demonstrated to be so by thousands of years of use.  So why is the EU and the FSA, its agent in the UK, engaged in this spurious and wholly unnecessary attack?  Can it be for any other reason than simply to sustain the bureaucracy and create work for the bureaucrats keeping them in their comfortable jobs?

It remains to be seen whether the FSA will try to explain its actions.  CLEAR’s trade association for CBD businesses, Cannabis Professionals (CannaPro), has been dealing with the FSA for some time and trying, unsuccessfully, to obtain straight answers. We participated in a conference which included the Head of Novel Foods in December 2018 and only yesterday we wrote to him complaining that, if anything, the situation was becoming more confused.  Now, unconfirmed statements from the FSA suggest that it is requesting Trading Standards to work with it on ‘enforcement’ and to remove CBD products from shelves. In our view the FSA and Trading Standards would be exceeding their lawful authority if they took this action as inclusion in the EU Novel Food Catalogue does not represent law.

It’s also important to understand the context in which the FSA bureaucrats are flexing their muscles and trying to talk tough.  For some time, CBD isolate has been in the EU Novel Food Catalogue and it has been genrally accepted by the industry that it is genuinely novel.  All responsible businesses have stopped selling isolate but there are a host of disreputable companies still selling isolate and neither the FSA nor Trading Standards have taken any enforcement action whatsoever.

Similarly, when the MHRA tried to get tough in 2016, it had a legitimate complaint that unlawful claims of medicinal benefit were being made.  All responsible businesses have ceased to make such claims but the marketplace is still full of confidence tricksters and the MHRA has taken no enforcement action whatsoever.  There are full page advertisements appearing in newpapers (including the Daily Mail) making the most outrageous medicinal claims but the MHRA does nothing. And this lack of enforcement severely damages responsible businesses that are working hard to remain compliant.

So, the truth is that even when justified and necessary, no enforcement is taking place.  In austerity Britain, even if you report a burglary or a car theft, the police will do nothing about enforcement.  The FSA’s action may well cause some of the major retailers to step back from the market.  It will certainly cause unnecessary confusion and damage to this burgeoning market but there is zero chance that it will stop people buying and selling CBD products.  Thousands of jobs now depend on the British CBD industry and millions of people find the products helpful and beneficial.

Key Points of Advice and Guidance

Don’t panic.  If you’re using CBD it will continue to be available. You might find it easier to buy it online in future.

Don’t panic.  If you’re a CBD business, the future remains bright, you should be used to a few obstacles in your path!

Don’t panic.  If you are visted by Trading Standards, stay calm and explain that your products contain nothing ‘novel’ and have been in widespread use for hundreds of years.

Don’t panic.  All CannaPro Certified businesses will have support in compiling evidence that your products are not ‘novel’. You are entitled to be given time to submit this.

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A final point that needs to be made on this subject.  When CLEAR organised the successful response to the MHRA’s intervention in 2016, it led directly to the establishment of the Cannabis Trades Assocation UK (CTA).  For reasons concened mainly with the ethical conduct and antecedents of Mike Harlington, who we appointed to run the CTA, we, along with many CBD businesses have disassociated themselves. This is turn led to the formation of Cannabis Professionals.

One of the main concerns about Harlington were his false claims of a ‘special relationship’ with the MHRA and FSA. These events should put the final nail in the coffin of those lies.  He and the CTA have had more than two years to establish a successful working relationship with these authorities but this has clearly been an absolute failure.  More than ever, the UK’s legal cannabis, CBD and hemp businesses need proper and effective representation.  Clearly, the CTA is unable to provide that.

While The NHS Is Failing People, Small CBD Companies Are Stepping Up.

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Alfie Brocklebank

Canabidol CBD Oil

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When Sajid Javid introduced the new regulations on cannabis for medical use last year, it brought hope to hundreds of thousands of people.  Now the NHS is routinely letting patients down and refusing to provide the medicinal cannabis they need.  The law no longer stands in the way but many people are in despair at the cruel and ignorant response of the medical establishment and NHS bureaucrats.

Not least the parents of Billy Caldwell and Alfie Dingley, the high profile cases of children with severe epilepsy, whose stories provoked the media outcry that eventually forced a stubborn government to take a proper look at the evidence.

Remarkably, small CBD businesses are stepping up when the NHS is letting people down and offering to provide CBD free-of-charge to those in desperate need.  And these really are small businesses, little more than the internet equivalent of a corner shop. Even the largest of them is tiny compared to the financial turnover of the smallest NHS hospital.  The owners of these small CBD businesses are funding these donations out of their own pockets and not asking for any PR or publicity in return.

Billy Caldwell is now approaching 100 days in exile in Canada

Billy Caldwell is exiled in Canada again because there is not a doctor in the UK who has the courage or the care to prescribe the cannabis oil he needs containing a small amount of THC.  This is mainly due to the inaccurate and, it has to be said, negligent guidelines from the British Paediatric Neurology Association, which has recommended against prescribing even tiny amounts of THC to children.  Its guidance is based on a misguided interpretation of evidence on the harms of adolescents smoking large quantities of high THC cannabis as a recreational drug.

Billy is OK because a consultant neurologist in Canada who understands cannabis as medicine has prescribed an oil with THC which is working perfectly for him.  It’s just that he’s away from his home and his family.  The doctors and NHS bureaucrats at the Belfast NHS Trust don’t care about that.  Their primary concern is sticking by manifestly stupid guidelines to protect their own careers within the establishment structure.

Take note that the media, so keen to publish Billy’s story before, has lost interest.  He’s still being reported as the poster boy for UK medical cannabis reform but the cruel irony is that the reform has failed him.

Another case in point is Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool.  There, one consultant neurologist is prepared to follow the evidence, rather than sticking with failed pharmaceutical medicines. He has prescribed medicinal cannabis for at least two children with epilepsy but the hospital management has stepped in and cancelled them, refusing to allow his clinical judgement to prevail over their bureaucratic procedures.

Both children are in severe distress.  Alfie Brocklebank has Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) which causes him to have many seizures every day, each one of which is life threatening. The medical director at Alder Hey said he did not meet the criteria to be prescribed medical cannabis so his parents started buying CBD at a cost which soon reached £170 per week. Alfie’s mother Ellen is a nurse, so she knew what she was doing.  Alfie’s seizures stopped.

Ellen Brocklebank

But Alder Hey still refused to prescribe Epidiolex, the GW Pharma CBD medicine, and they wouldn’t help with the cost of the over-the-counter Canabidol CBD which was working so well.  The family simply couldn’t afford to keep spending £170 per week on the oil.

See Alfie Brocklebank’s story here as reported by ITV News.

It was Billy’s mother, Charlotte Caldwell, who reached out to CLEAR.  Canabidol CBD is a CannaPro Certified business, endorsed by CLEAR  as an ethical supplier of legal, high quality CBD products. As soon as we spoke to Tom Whettem, CEO of Canabidol, there was no hesitation.  He immediately undertook to provide the oil that Alfie needs at no cost – and there was no question of wanting anything in return.

Alfie’s mother, Ellen, takes up the story:

“Alfie is starting play school next week. Before we started the CBD this would not of been possible as he was just to poorly and having lots of seizures. Alfie going to a main stream play school with his sister is a huge milestone.

We are also slowly coming off Alfie’s conventional anti-epilepsy drugs as well. I’m nearly 100% sure we wouldn’t be able to do this if Alfie wasn’t on the whole plant extract CBD. The neurologist actually told me in his opinion Canabidol CBD is most likely to be more effective than the Epidiolex.”

A number of other CBD companies have now stepped forward and offered to supply oil to people in need who have been turned down for an NHS prescription. As a result, CLEAR, through its trade association Cannabis Professionals, is launching the CannaPro CBD Compassionate Access Programme.

CannaPro CBD Compassionate Access Programme

Applications should set out details of the patient’s condition, any experience with CBD so far and an explanation of the refusal to prescribe on the NHS.  Please email applications to cbdaccess@cannapro-uk.org. All applications will be confidential and considered by a small sub committee of the CLEAR Executive Committee.  Where we are able to recommend that a patient join the programme we will inform the applicant and introduce them to a donor company.  Donor companies will be allocated in strict rotation according to the date they first offered to participate.

 

 

 

 

Bring Billy Home. The NHS Has Denied Him His Medicine Again. He Is Back In Canada.

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It’s probably the most shocking outcome of the new regulations on cannabis that the boy whose story created the change is in exile again.

Billy Caldwell, loved and adored by the whole nation, is back in Canada with his mum Charlotte because there is not a specialist doctor in the UK who will prescribe the medicine he needs.

He has written a heartbreaking letter to Santa, saying he doesn’t want any toys this year “My Xmas wish is to go home with my medicine”.


I doubt whether there has ever been a time when the British people’s opinion of doctors is sinking so fast.  Previously held in absolute reverence, more and more are realising that doctors are only human and some of their human characteristics are, frankly, disappointing.  I’ll go further, some are disgusting.

Dr Chad Taylor of Jersey General Hospital

Doctors no longer sign the Hippocratic Oath but they are expected to abide by professional standards. You’d expect ethics or morals to be at the top but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Many are uninformed, frightened, ignorant or ideologically opposed to the use of cannabis as medicine.

In some cases, such as Dr Chad Taylor, they prefer their duty to their professional body than their duty to their patients.  Dr Taylor says he has “no intention of bending to this pressure” and insists that his “only obligation as a medical practitioner is I’m duty-bound to follow my professional guidance”.

Dr Tom Smith of Guys and St Thomas’ Hospital

Another, Dr Tom Smith, falsely claimed in writing that he wasn’t “allowed” to prescribe for chronic pain, despite his patient having previously found cannabis effective when prescribed in Holland.  Strong opioids don’t work for his patient but all Dr Smith could say was that the epidemic in opioid addiction could soon be an epidemic in cannabis addiction.

The level of ignorance, wild misinformation and bigotry amongst these so-called professionals is astonishing.

Returning to Billy’s story,  CLEAR has been able to offer advice and guidance to Charlotte Caldwell which we believe provides a method by which Billy may legally return home with his medicine in time for Christmas.  That’s the Christmas gift we all want – but not just for Billy. We want British doctors to open their eyes and their ears and start learning what doctors all over the USA, Canada and the rest of Europe already know, cannabis is a very safe and effective medicine.  Instead of being afraid of it they need to start putting their patients first.

Written by Peter Reynolds

December 12, 2018 at 4:59 pm

NICE Rejects Professor Mike Barnes’ Expertise in Cannabis as Medicine for a Second Time

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Professor Mike Barnes is without doubt the UK clinician with the most expertise in the use of cannabis as medicine. He should have been first choice as a member of the NICE committee charged with developing cannabis prescribing guidelines and, as reported here, its rejection of his application was greeted with astonishment. However, NICE relented and invited Professor Barnes to an interview. Now they have rejected him again.

Mike was responsible for obtaining the first medicinal cannabis licences for Sophia Gibson and Alfie Dingley and he has been involved in countless behind-the-scenes efforts to assist others. He joined the advisory board of CLEAR in July 2016, is an ambassador for the End Our Pain campaign and has since contributed his expertise to several other organisations including UPA. He is also  founder and director of education at the Academy of Medical Cannabis and founder of the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society.

What concerned NICE in the first place was that in February 2018, Professor Barnes was appointed Chief Medical Officer of SOL Global Investments (known as Scythian Biosciences until June 2018). NICE was concerned this could be a conflict of interest. In fact, SOL is an international cannabis company with a focus on legal U.S. states. It has no investments or plans for the UK. When Mike told NICE this he was invited for an interview. The second letter of rejection reads:

“It was clear that you have relevant experience and expertise in this area however the interview panel remained concerned about possible conflicts of interest around your links to commercial organisations and your campaign work in the area which means that you have a publicly stated position on the topic.”

Few will regard that as a credible or logical reason for not having Mike on the committee. It’s actually absurd and really makes one wonder who makes these decisions and what planet they are on. If there were even a few alternative candidates to consider then it might make some sense but there don’t appear to be any alternatives to Mike Barnes. If there is anyone else in the UK with his clinical qualifications, knowledge, experience and expertise, no one at CLEAR has heard of them. It’s foolish and irresponsible to reject the only real source of knowledge that will command respect from other clinicians and for such very flimsy and poorly thought through reasons.

How many other clinicians on other NICE committees have commercial relationships with pharmaceutical companies or other medical organisations? How many have also expressed their professional or personal opinions on matters of medical policy and practice? Have they been disqualified for the cardinal sin of holding an opinion? Does NICE want people on this committee who are insufficiently informed or so shy that they do not express opinions?

Could this happen anywhere but in Britain? However patriotic and loyal one is to our country, this sort of crass stupidity and hypocrisy seems to be a special gift of the UK civil service.

NICE has Form for this Sort of Self-Defeating Bureaucracy

Its ‘Do Not Do Recommendation’ on Sativex is directly relevant and is based on on a flawed assessment of cost effectiveness which itself is founded on ignorance of the way cannabis works and a determination not to give proper weight to MS patient reports of the benefit they gain from Sativex. None of this is to overlook the unethical and profiteering price which GW Pharmaceuticals wants to charge for the medicine. Pharmacologically identical products are available from US and Canadian medical cannabis dispensaries for about one-tenth the price of Sativex.

NICE has also failed dismally on the Freestyle Libre glucose monitoring system for diabetics. This revolutionary new system not only makes life much easier for thousands of people, doing away with the need for endless finger pricking, it also dramatically improves blood sugar control promising huge reductions in the long term cost of diabetes to the NHS. It’s been available since 2014 and thankfully will now be prescribed on the NHS from April 2019 but for five years NICE has dithered, waffled and procrastinated on it, exactly as it is now doing with cannabis. Until now, just as with cannabis, it has claimed insufficient evidence but the real problem is NICE has a blinkered view and fails to look widely enough for the evidence it requires.

In a remarkable parallel with the way it is handling cannabis, NICE claimed there was no evidence that the Freestyle Libre led to better blood sugar control in type 1 diabetics, But the reason it claimed this was that there was no study supporting it that met NICE’s criteria and by impeding uptake of the device it was making such a study virtually impossible. NICE totally failed to give any weight to the many case reports of really dramatic benefits – exactly as it is doing with cannabis.

So, while our prime minister and the Home Office drugs minister have a direct financial interest in the UK’s only commercial producer of medicinal cannabis, yet direct and control drugs policy, when it comes to caring for patients, the only British clinician with relevant expertise is disqualified by a connection with an overseas cannabis company and for expressing an opinion than cannabis could help many people.


 

As a footnote, I should declare that I also volunteered to give my time to the NICE committee as a lay member and I too was rejected. It’s not for me to question its judgement unless I have good reason to but given its track record with Mike Barnes, I do have legitmate concerns. I first gave expert evidence to Parliament on the subject in 1983 and again in 2012 and 2016. Since 2011 I have worked intensively with hundreds of people who use cannabis as medicine and I lead the group that represents more such people than all other UK groups combined. I am also the author of the study Medicinal Cannabis: The Evidence, which has been translated into three languages and has been cited many times throughout the world. I know of no one in the UK with more relevant experience than me.

What Is The Matter With Doctors About The Use Of Cannabis As Medicine?

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In the UK, most doctors, and the medical profession as a whole, are ignorant and bigoted about cannabis.

Their ignorance is not entirely their own fault.  For 50-odd years, since cannabis tincture was last available from UK pharmacies, they have been subject to the same relentless tide of propaganda from the Home Office, successive governments, the tabloid press and rabble-rousing politicians as the rest of society.  Many still regard cannabis as a dangerous drug consumed by degenerates that almost inevitably leads to mental illness.  The idea that it could be a safe and effective medicine which offers real benefits in a wide range of conditions is regarded as laughable.

However, there is no excuse for such laziness amongst a profession that regards itself as scientific.  And this is the charge – indolence, carelessness and laziness – that needs to be laid at those doctors at NHS England, the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurologists Association, that are responsible for the disgraceful ‘guidelines’ published two weeks ago.

Throughout Europe, Israel, Canada and the USA there are thousands of doctors who have made the effort to learn about cannabinoid medicine.  They have had to make extraordinary effort to do because even the most basic science is still rarely taught.  The endocannabinoid system is on the syllabus of very few medical schools, anywhere in the world, despite the fact we now know that it is the largest neurotransmitter network in the body and affects almost every aspect of our health and all medical conditions.  This is a dreadful indictment of the medical establishment but particularly of doctors in the UK, very few of whom have made any effort at all.

So while, to a degree, the ignorance can be forgiven, the bigotry cannot. It is cowardice. These doctors prefer to cover their own backs, protect themselves and prefer an absurd level of caution to doing what is in their patients’ best interests.  The incredibly low risk attached to cannabis in any form, at any age and particularly when under medical supervision, is simply overlooked.

Yes, the medical profession is known to be ‘conservative’ but in the case of cannabis this is an excuse.  Yes, we live in an increasingly litigious society but any truly professional doctor would not be cowed by such fear when the evidence is widely available, if they could be bothered to look. And what is this ‘conservatism’ of?  Modern medicine is barely a century old.  It is new in the history of our species and while the reductionist approach has brought great benefit and made huge advances, it is at the expense of thousands of years of human experience which has been dismissed as valueless.

These doctors may feel that the reforms have been foisted on them with no consultation and little notice but this is not a political game, it affects the lives of millions, from the youngest baby to the oldest, most senior citizens.  These doctors are failing in their professional duty.  For too long they have enjoyed being regarded with ultimate respect, rarely being questioned or challenged by their patients but those days are gone.  Most of the population is now far better informed than ever before, largely because of the internet and although this may cause doctors some problems, they have to learn to live with it.  They have to respect their patients, parents and carers and recognise more than ever before that healthcare is about co-operation, about working together. They have to come down from their ivory towers and start delivering truly patient-centred medicine.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

November 13, 2018 at 4:57 pm