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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

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

 

 

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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.

 

The Next ISIS Assassin Will Be A White Woman With Leaflets

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She’ll slip past a security cordon, invade a private area and everyone will sit on their hands, terrorised into inaction by the feminazi, left wing journalists and the whining trolls that are the Twitterati.

Next, HM The Queen, the Duchess of Sussex, a musician, movie star or philanthropist will be dead or have acid thrown in their face.

Theresa May makes the wrong call yet again and betrays Mark Field.  He is a fool for having apologised. The BBC, now little more than a state-funded sinecure for Remainers and professional victims, ramps up the hysteria and criticism, a rallying call for conflict and division.

If the protestor had been found with a small bottle of acid or a knife, Mark Field would be lauded as a hero.  Instead he is villified, castigated and abused. I express my view on Twitter that she was dealt with proportionately and then I’m smeared as ‘a man who supports violence against women’. The world has gone mad.

The person who is really to blame is whoever was in charge of security. It was an appalling failure and must be the end of their career.  Absolutely unforgivable.

Given the occasion, the location, the attendees and the sudden, aggressive invasion, a 9mm double tap to the centre of the target would have been fully justified.

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 21, 2019 at 12:18 pm

Posted in Politics

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Which Conservative Leadership Candidate Has The Intelligence And Courage To Legalise Cannabis?

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There are a host of strong, evidence-based reasons why legalising cannabis is a very good idea.  It’s also an idea that fits perfectly with Tory principles of free enterprise, small government and fighting crime.  In private, most politicians now realise this and that the present policy on cannabis causes far more harm than it prevents.  But do any of the Conservative Leadership candidates have the vision to make this policy their own?  It would be a massive vote winner at the next General Election and could rescue the party from its terminal decline into old age.

Dominic Raab. He probably understands the evidence well but may feel this is just too controversial a policy to help him overcome concerns about his relative youth and lack of experience.  It would do wonders for his brand though and, on a good day, he probably does have the courage.

Esther McVey. Not a chance.  If ever there was an anodyne, squeaky-clean, don’t rock the boat candidate for the twin set and pearls ladies at the local Conservative association, it’s Esther. Her candidacy simply isn’t strong enough to sustain such a radical policy.

Rory Stewart. With his background, no one should understand better the counterproductive nature of the war on drugs.  He may have tried opium in Iran and he must have come across some the world’s finest hashish in Afghanistan. He has the knowledge and the vision but does he have the courage?  His exciting campaign has the energy to take on this policy and make it his own.

Boris Johnson. Famously describing the idea that he had never taken drugs as “an outrageous slur”, Boris has confirmed that he has smoked “quite a few spliffs” and that “it was jolly nice”.  But for all the bluster and bravado, he probably lacks the courage and this is a policy that requires diligent and patient explanation, so probably not something he’s well suited to.

Sajid Javid. Credit is due to the home secretary who finally moved on access to cannabis as medicine but this was probably more to do with asserting his new role in the cabinet. It is remarkable though that he achieved this while Theresa May was PM.  Not only is she as regressive as they come on drugs policy, she also has a vested interest in keeping cannabis illegal due to her husband’s financial interest in GW Pharmaceuticals. Sadly though, Sajid is more likely to appeal to ‘hang ’em and flog ’em’ Tories rather than those with intelligence and courage.

Andrea Leadsom. Mrs Leadsom is notable as one of the few Tories who treated the late Paul Flynn and his cannabis campaigning with respect rather than contempt and ridicule but she’s unlikely to be the sort of leader who would take forward such a bold policy. Please prove us wrong Andrea!

Matt Hancock. Forever to be defined by his dishonest testimony on the Leveson Inquiry whilst culture secretary, Hancock doesn’t have the balls for anything radical.  He’s already punching above his weight at the Department of Health and his loyalty to the Fleet Street barons is unlikely to persuade him to challenge one of their favourite topics for sensationalism.

Michael Gove. Although strong on intellect and fully capable of radical policy, Gove is in serious deficit on sincerity and integrity.  With Mrs Gove (Sarah Vine) as a rampaging Daily Mail hack, probably writing about a cannabis crazed axe murderer right now, this is probably a step too far for him and his natural constituency is older people, certainly in attitude if not in years.

Jeremy Hunt. Definitely the choice for conservative Conservatives, Mr Hunt probably understands the arguments but sees this as a policy for the next generation. Undoubtedly a decent man, a one nation Tory, made of stronger stuff than first appears but unlikely to want to put his name to such a controversial policy.

Kit Malthouse. One would have hoped that Malthouse’s previous role as London Deputy Mayor for Policing would have given him an insight into drugs policy but it’s a subject he seems strangely silent on. He apparently has no record of any comment on the subject at all.  So he may be a dark horse but almost certainly one that won’t be anywhere near the finishing line.

Mark Harper. As an ex-Home Office minister it’s unlikely that Harper is progressive on drugs policy and it certainly isn’t a subject that he has any record on.  He’s unlikely to be in favour of cannabis law reform but also unlikely to get anywhere in the leadership race.  Hardly a reformer, more of a classic Tory stuffed shirt.

James Cleverly.  Clever by name but not too clever in practice, James has confessed to smoking weed in his youth but of course it was all a ‘dreadful mistake’. He showed a terrible lack of understanding as one of the MPs to eagerly jump on the bandwagon of ‘middle class cocaine users being responsible for knife crime’. Not much hope of any insight, intelligence or courage here.

Written by Peter Reynolds

June 1, 2019 at 1:41 pm

‘Cannabis Law is Simply Criminal’. Letter to the Sunday Times, 26th May 2019

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The Sunday Times, 26th May 2019

Thank you to the Sunday Times for publishing my letter about cannabis today.

In fact, it was orginally a comment left on this article: ‘CBD products being rated for tax — but still seized’.  I received an email asking for my permission to publish it as a letter which clearly I was happy to agree to.

Obviously I accept that letters will be edited but when this is done to alter very substantially the original meaning, questions have to be asked.

Why is the Sunday Times protecting corrupt, senior British politicians from facts which are in the public domain? In the original the last two paragraphs read:

“Our politicians are incompetent, stupid and in some cases brazenly corrupt on this subject and reform is inevitable, although how long it will take remains to be seen.

While Theresa May and the Home Office drugs minister, Victoria Atkins MP, both continue to make personal financial gain from licensed cannabis production, the UK has a steeper hill to climb than Ireland. Corruption at the very top of government is difficult to overcome.”

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 26, 2019 at 3:49 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