Peter Reynolds

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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Professor Les Iversen, Tightrope Walker and Unsung Hero of Cannabis Law Reform

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Leslie Iversen, born October 31 1937, died July 30 2020

Daily Telegraph obituary ‘Leslie Iversen, pioneering neuroscientist who studied the effects of drugs on the brain’

I’m sad that the latter years of Les Iversen’s life have been skipped over in this obituary. As with so many scientists who have had some influence in the political field, he had to tread a tightrope between scientific evidence and the ignorance, bigotry, prejudice of those in politics who are far more concerned with tabloid headlines than facts.

His chairmanship of the ACMD was conducted with great skill and enormous patience as politicians took decisions which were diametrically opposed to evidence. If Les had had his way, the medicinal benefits of cannabis would have been acknowledged far sooner and his knowledge would have cut through the vested interests of senior clinicians which are currently stalling progress on uptake of this most valuable medicine.

Les was appointed chair of ACMD following the disgraceful sacking of David Nutt who had the temerity to tell government the facts about relative drug harms. Les was less of an abrasive character than David Nutt although their professional opinions on government drugs policy were closely aligned. He continued to speak truth to power and, as he told me many times, was completely frustrated by politicians’ attitude to cannabis and their preference for the Daily Mail’s guidance on drugs policy rather than science.

From 2010, as the campaign for cannabis law reform became far more professional and began to attract support from more and more backbench MPs, it was immensely valuable to have someone who was strong and certain in advising ministers of the facts, even if they chose not to act on them. He must take a huge amount of credit for the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in 2018. He was immensely skilful at remaining in post in order to provide the best advice while actually telling ministers that their polices were foolish. He has never received the recognition for this that he is due.

Today’s ACMD is supine in comparison, crippled by legislation which has effectively castrated it and turned it into a committee that will confirm whatever the Home Secretary of the day requires. Scientists and clinicians, more than ever, are controlled by the big businesses and fat cats who want to determine drugs policy based on self-interest and prejudice rather than science. Les was one of the last of the noble breed of scientists who told the truth without fear or an overriding concern for their bank balance.

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 27, 2020 at 12:14 pm

Five Reasons Why Boris Johnson Should Legalise Cannabis Now

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1. Popularity

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

2. Mental health

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

3. Tax revenue

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

4. Jobs

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

5. Crime and violence

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

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 3, 2020 at 4:30 pm

Seeing Green. A Film About Perspective, Family and Weed

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

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

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

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

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 21, 2020 at 11:18 am

Brandon Lewis Does A Grayling

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This government has two big problems that are apparent in every current issue: incompetence and atrocious communications. Brandon’s latest blunder is a prime example.

What an idiotic statement to make.  Not only is it palpably untrue, it’s probably one of the most damaging gaffes ever made by a serving minister.

Nothing in the UK Internal Market Bill is a breach of international law – unless of course you see it from the perspective of the EU and Barnier’s bovver boys. All the bill does is permit ministers to act if the EU itself was to act in a way that breaches the Withdrawal Agreement.  Strictly speaking, they’ve already done this.  The agreement requires that both parties negotitate in good faith to establish further agreements on a whole range of issues, particularly on Northern Ireland and trade.  Barnier hasn’t done this.  In typical high handed style, he’s refused to talk about anything else unless the UK surrenders on fishing.  If he continues in this vein, there won’t be an agreement and UK will have to act to protect it against the EU hijacking parts of Northern Ireland’s trade.

So the bill doesn’t actually do anything at all unless the EU breaks international law first.

Brandon is an idiot.  He’s shown that repeatedly and tagging him with the name of the greatest blunderer of all, Grayling, reminds me that they were both kicked upstairs to be party chairman after an earlier blunder.  That tells you everything you need to know about the Conservative Party, its strategic direction and governance.  It’s a shambles, every bit as much as the Labour Party.

This is a discussion for another day but it’s clear evidence of the woeful standard of all politicans on all sides. Out-of-touch defines pretty much all those who presume to govern us – and useless.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 12, 2020 at 1:23 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 17, 2020 at 5:25 pm

This Is America

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Written by Peter Reynolds

June 1, 2020 at 2:16 pm

Posted in Politics

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If the Mobs on Twitter and Facebook Want to Persecute Someone, Why Don’t They Choose a Deserving Case?

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For instance, what about Professor Finbar O’Callaghan, who has prevented children having access to cannabis medicine for epilepsy while making his living running £ multi-million clinical trials of pharmaceutical drugs?

These are the sort of people who should be hunted down and villified, not some weird eccentric who is a behind the scenes political adviser making private decisions about his own family.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 24, 2020 at 9:42 am

Unfit To Be Any Sort Of Of Police Officer, Let Alone a Chief Constable

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This idiot, Chief Constable Nick Adderley, issued an implied threat that his officers would start setting up roadblocks and searching supermarket trollies to see whether items purchased were necessary.

It’s clear he doesn’t understand the new legislation. In fact his suggestions are so far beyond his powers as to be ridiculous.  In the present difficult circumstances, even for a senior officer who should know better, we should allow some leeway. We should forgive some exaggeration or overstatement.  But Adderley has gone far beyond this.  He’s clearly unfit to be a police officer at any sort of rank with his ignorance and authoritarian instincts wildly out of control.

He should be sacked from his position immediately. There is no room in British policing for someone who behaves like this, whatever the circumstances.

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 10, 2020 at 1:23 pm

The Trolls Attacking Boris On Social Media Are In For The Shock Of Their Lives

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It’s very, very sad how our great nation has become demeaned by the arrogant, self-righteous, opinionated, know-it-all warriors of social media.
 
When I worked in the ad industry, we had a saying ‘It’s much easier to criticise than to create’ and that’s what I see on Facebook and Twitter. Despite my challenge, not one person has suggested anyone who they think would do better than Boris Johnson.
 
Things are going to get very much tougher than they are now. I think there will be shock, horror, grief, anger and fear to cope with. It’s going to take a leader of heroic strength to get us through and I say thank God we already have that man in Downing Street.

Boris is doing a brilliant job. For 15 years this country has been crying out for leadership. He rescued Brexit from the Remainers who wanted to subvert our democracy and he’ll lead us to victory over Covid19

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 20, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Biography, Politics

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How To Win The Coronavirus War

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Closing things down will not protect us. Only by developing herd immunity will we win the Coronavirus War. So we should be careful to try and slow the rate of infection and vulnerable people need to be in strict hygiene conditions.

In areas where everything is shut down, when people start mixing again the infection will just come back.

We have to accept it in a controlled fashion, then we will develop antibodies and scientists will develop vaccines against it.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 14, 2020 at 8:28 pm