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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

New NHS ‘Cannabis Clinic’ Announced as Kings College, Institute of Psychiatry Joins the ‘Green Rush’.

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Dr Marta di Forti: “Cannabis-induced psychosis is a crisis which cannot be ignored”.

Mail on Sunday, 30th June 2019. NHS is forced to open Britain’s first clinic for cannabis psychosis to treat addicts of the mind-altering drug

Daily Telegraph, 30th June 2019. NHS opens first ever cannabis clinic as mind-altering ‘skunk’ fuels psychosis among users

Daily Star, 30th June 2019. First NHS clinic for weed addicts launched to treat cannabis-induced psychosis sufferers

The Times, 1st July 2019. NHS opens its first clinic to treat cannabis psychosis

Dr Di Forti, Professor Murray and their colleagues at the King’s College Institute of Psychiatry live in a bubble that is not replicated anywhere else in the world. The fantastic and frightening statistics that they publish are achieved through the use of complex, esoteric algorithms that generate theoretical projections which are regularly challenged by every other research team across the world working on the same subject.

Nevertheless, in the UK their theories are accepted as fact. Vigorously promoted by the King’s College press office, dutifully sensationalised by the Daily Mail and rarely challenged by other mainstream media, they are part of the anti-cannabis mythology which has a stronger foothold in the UK than any other country in the world.

Despite their best efforts, repeating the same or similar studies over many years, there is no evidence that cannabis causes psychosis, merely observational studies that show some people who are diagnosed with psychosis have used cannabis. Similar studies also show an association with drinking milk, energy drinks, using a skateboard, playing computer games or living in areas with heavy traffic pollution.

Research conducted at the Universities of Bristol and Cardiff, validated by further work at University of York, shows that the risk of a diagnosis of psychosis correlating with cannabis consumption is about 1:20000. See: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170420132334.htm By comparison the risk of being struck by lightning in a lifetime is 1:3000. See: https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0623_040623_lightningfacts.html. This puts the risk into proper perspective and explains why nowhere else in the world, including where far more potent varieties of cannabis are legally available, is this a problem of any significance.

A few unfortunate souls will need treatment for psychosis where cannabis, probably with other substances, has been a component factor in their illness but the risk of this is infinitesimally small and compared to the panoply of other substances, activities and experiences we indulge in, completely irrelevant to 99% of people.

This clinic is another example of the skilled PR operation which enables Kings College to continue repeating this research year after year without ever discovering anything new or useful. It’s also clear that they want their share of the ‘green rush’ of huge investment funding going into cannabis as legalisation continues its unstoppable and very welcome roll-out across the world.

Legally regulated cannabis will result in a safer, happier, wealthier world for everyone and far better protect those very few people who are vulnerable rather than leaving the market under the control of gangsters.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

July 1, 2019 at 11:28 am

Letter to the Irish Independent, 22nd June 2019. ‘Let’s look at the evidence when it comes to cannabis’

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Peter Reynolds of CLEAR confronts the reefer madness of Irish psychiatrist, Professor Patricia Casey.

See her original column: ‘Dangers of sleepwalking into legalisation of cannabis use’

In response to Patricia Casey (Dangers of sleepwalking into legalisation of cannabis use’, 15th June 2019), how much longer must we be berated by the sort of arguments that Professor Casey puts forward? At best her column is disingenuous and misleading.

The ‘Cannabis Risk Alliance’ was directly contradicted by another group, similarly qualified, just a few days later and by the overwhelming weight of medical and scientific opinion around the world.

Research shows the risk of mental illness with cannabis is one in 20,000. By comparison the risk of being struck by lightning is one in 3000.

Medical cannabis is not “use of cannabis of the CBD variety”. Bedrocan, the leading EU medical cannabis supplier has three products with THC content of 22%, 13.5% and 14%. It’s clear Professor Casey simply doesn’t understand the subject.

Cannabis has been used as medicine for more than 5,000 years and doctors around the world now prescribe it with enormous benefit to patients. Some 99% of Irish doctors have not been educated in the endocannabinoid system, through which cannabis works. In other countries, medical cannabis has special regulations. Trying to regulate a 500 molecule medicine in the same way as single molecule pharmaceutical product is impossible.

Professor Casey is wrong about the Netherlands. By separating the cannabis market from hard drugs, the rate of heroin addiction is one-sixth that of Ireland. So talk about a ‘slippery slope’ and a “softening up process” is simply mischievous.

I agree that government must be careful of vested interest groups but these include doctors funded by pharmaceutical companies. Psychiatrists only see people with a problem and are blind to the benefits that 99% of people experience.

Can cannabis be misused and cause harm? Yes. Is the risk as great as with alcohol or tobacco? No. Is it any more than with coffee, bacon or chocolate? Not really. It really is time we acted in accordance with the evidence and not on scaremongering which verges on hysteria.

Peter Reynolds

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 22, 2019 at 4:10 pm

Doctors Are Frightened Of Cannabis. It Challenges Conventional Medicine And Threatens Their Status.

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Professor Andrew Goddard and Professor Finbar O’Callaghan at the Health and Social Care Committee, 26th March 2019

The British medical establishment is behaving like a spoilt child that doesn’t understand the rules of a new game.

The irony is that it’s actually a very old game that went out of fashion just a century ago despite thousands of years of practice. The wisdom accumulated across those many years has been dismissed by simplistic, reductionist, allopathic medicine and its return is being driven by patients – real benefit that real patients experience in real life, surely the most important criterion of all.

The doctors responsible for drafting the medicinal cannabis guidelines from the Royal College of Physicians and the British Paediatric Neurology Association have failed patients.  Either through error or design they have overlooked the evidence of safety and efficacy that is widely available.  They say there is ‘no evidence’ when what they mean is there is no evidence that suits them.  For some reason they regard medical practice in Canada, the USA, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain or Israel as not applicable to the UK.  Their guidelines are not based on evidence but on the disregarding of evidence and they are merely the opinion of doctors who have no experience of cannabis at all.

These doctors who expect their ill-informed opinions to be treated as scientific fact are directly opposing the doctrine of ‘do no harm’.  They stand by while scores of young children suffer life threatening seizures, while hundreds of thousands in chronic pain are offered only highly toxic, addictive and dangerous opioids.

Their arrogance, stubborness and self-serving preference for lengthy clinical trials from which they earn fat fees is both damaging quality of life and putting health at risk for millions of us.

Since Finbar O’Callaghan and Andrew Goddard gave evidence to the Health and Social Care Committee, over three months ago, neither of them, nor any of their colleagues in their ivory towers, have done anything effective to improve access to cannabis as medicine.  They have decided that their opinion counts above everything else.  They have no interest in what patients have learned from experience, sometimes over many years. They choose to ignore the expertise of thousands of doctors from other countries.  They will consider the benefits of cannabis only on their terms.  They continue to wildly exaggerate the possible harms and side effects and their position is fixed, stubborn and intransigent.

It was notable in the two professors’ evidence that they preferred only to talk about cannabidiol, where they could refer to the evidence of clinical trials. They didn’t want to discuss full spectrum cannabis at all.  Why is it that physicians are so risk averse when surgeons are lauded and idolised for the most perilous use of the knife? They will slice into flesh only millimetres away from vital organs, remove sections of the brain which could kill or paralyse with the slightest error. Yet unbelievably, O’Callaghan actually does recommend slicing into a child’s brain rather than to administer a tiny dose of a very low potency version of a drug which 250,000,0000 people worldwide consume regularly with very few problems.

It’s all about ignorance and fear. O’Callaghan, Gardner and 99% of British doctors have received no education at all in the endocannabinoid system through which cannabis exerts its therapeutic effects and this challenges their status. In our culture, doctors have been treated as infallible, almost as Gods, never to be questioned, only to be obeyed. So a medicine that works, that is safer than virtually all the pills you can buy over-the-counter and has powerful, benefical effects for very wide range of conditions is a real threat to doctors’ status. It shakes their world and so they are eager to disparage it, exaggerate its risks, diminish its efficacy.

This is the real issue with cannabis. It gives medicine back to the people, literally for those who grow their own, and with it a great deal of the power and prestige that the medical profession has held over us.

Of course more and more doctors are opening their minds and learning.  It’s the establishment that’s the problem, as it so often is in British life.  It’s those at the top of the Royal Colleges, the professional institutions and the NHS bureaucrats at the intersection between money and medicine. These are the people that stand in the way of the most inexpensive, multi-purpose, safe, effective, easily tolerated medicine that we have.

 

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

VIDEO. After 50 Years of Campaigning for Access to Cannabis as Medicine, at last MPs Have Started to Listen

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Sir Mike Penning MP opening the debate on 20th May 2019

For 50 years campaigners have been battering on the doors of Parliament, writing to and meeting their MPs, presenting detailed, cogent arguments backed up with scientific evidence. We have fought. We have argued. We have marched, demonstrated, pleaded, begged and we have been rejected. We have been ignored, abused, ostracised, treated like drug pushers and with contempt by those who are supposed to govern us within a democratic system.

Now at last they are listening. They have opened their eyes and their ears and they finally seem to understand. Of course, now they are all congratulating themselves on ‘their’ efforts and achievements but that is the nature of MPs. We, who have fought this war and see victory in sight will just have to swallow that. History will record the courage and the suffering of those who were in the front line when MPs refused even to speak to us.  Never forget, it is less than two years since a senior cabinet minster told me “the settled view of ministers is that the medicinal campaign is just an excuse to take cannabis”.

Yesterday’s debate in Parliament shows that MPs have finally got the message and we can at last be certain that cannabis will soon be widely and readily available to those who need it.

Watch the debate here.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 22, 2019 at 4:44 pm

Posted in Biography, Health, Politics

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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

Ignorant Doctors Bring Shame On Their Profession With Foolish Words on Cannabis

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What is it in these British Isles that has resulted in a medical establishment that uses prejudice, scaremongering and specious argument to object to the medical use of cannabis?

The astonishing ignorance that pervades the medical profession on this subject is demonstrated once again by a ridiculous letter in today’s Irish Times.  In a display of hubris, arrogance and plain stupidity, these people who assume they are due our respect, have conflated the issues of medical and recreational use in the most  destructive and confusing way.  These doctors are fundamentally failing in their duty to ‘do no harm’ both in undermining progress towards use of cannabis as medicine and in not providing this medicine to their patients immediately.

The sheer stupidity of the argument advanced by these doctors is breathtaking. They object to progress towards medical availablility by promoting the old chestnut of cannabis in recreational use causing psychosis. Their point is entirely irrelevant, it has nothing to do with medical use. It is no different from denying morphine to patients to control the most severe pain, following an operation, severe injury or at end-of-life, because some people use heroin as a recreational drug. It is a shameful, illogical, irrational and deeply cruel argument that shoud rest heavily on these doctors’ consciences.

And the psychosis argument is nothing but scaremongering anyway.  The evidence clearly shows that the risk of cannabis use correlating with a diagnosis of psychosis is one in 20,000.  As the National Geographic reports, the risk of being struck by lightning in one’s lifetime is merely one in 3,000.

The letter then descends into further evidence-free scaremongering, again totally irrelevant to the use of cannabis as medicine. The risks of cannabis are vastly and dishonestly exaggerated by doctors who clearly have no real idea what they are putting their names to.

It’s a disgrace that this letter has been composed and submitted to the Irish Times and the doctors’ new campaign group, the Cannabis Risk Alliance, is a fraud.

Shame on these quacks who have brought their profession into disrepute and stand in the way of providing proper medical care to their patients.  This must be the final nail in the coffin of unquestioning respect and belief in doctors.  They have shown beyond doubt that they do not deserve to be held in such high regard.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 21, 2019 at 1:02 pm