Peter Reynolds

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Complaint to the BBC about its Pro-Israel Bias

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Devastation in the Omar Al-Mukhtar neighbourhood in Gaza after another Israeli air strike.

I wish to complain about the appalling pro-Israel bias in current news coverage.  Perhaps best illustrated by repeated use of the phrase “Palestinian militants”, which suggest that they ‘favour confrontational or violent methods in support of a political or social cause’ (Oxford Languages).  This is dreadfully one-sided.

Palestine is occupied by force by Israel. According to Human Rights Watch, Israel enforces a policy of apartheid, according to international law ‘a crime against humanity in which one racial group dominates another through intentional, systematic and inhumane acts of oppression.’

It is not Palestinians that are militant, it is the Israeli government.  Palestine acts in self-defence against a brutal, violent occupying force.

BBC News also constantly refers to Israel ‘defending itself’ against Palestinian rockets.  The rockets are launched in self-defence in response to Israeli aggression.  They are a pitiful and courageous response to one of the world’s most technologically advanced armies.  It is quite literally fireworks and catapults against F16s, tanks and guided missile systems.

I could add many more specifics about the bias in BBC coverage. Our political leaders are engaged in the same disinformation, with James Cleverley MP today referring only to ‘Israel defending itself’ and ‘Hamas must stop launching rockets’.  I expect the BBC to report truth, not propaganda and while it must report Cleverley’s deceitful words, it must explain how one-sided they are.  

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 13, 2021 at 10:21 am

The Irish Tricolour at Half-Mast for Prince Philip

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It takes a particularly inadequate intellect and an almost complete absence of human empathy not to be able to separate the abhorrent acts of the British state in Ireland from the great respect that most people, worldwide, have for HM The Queen. And as she herself has made clear, Prince Philip was an equal partner in her work.
Remember her meeting with Martin McGuinness as an example of the way that both sides of the historical conflict should conduct themselves.
The British and Irish are one people. We see that every day in our personal relationships and lives. Despite the past failures and terrible crimes on both sides, that truth persists.

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 18, 2021 at 10:04 am

Politicians Who Want To Keep Cannabis Banned are on the Same Side as the Gangsters and Drug Lords.

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This article was published in the Daily Express on 8th April 2021 as ‘Legalising cannabis will slash drug crime and levy taxes, it’s nuts not to’

Sadiq Khan has suggested, timidly, a ‘drugs commission’ to look specifically at the legalisation of cannabis. No.10 has hit back saying that a review is waste of time and it has no plans to change the law because “illicit drugs destroy lives and cannabis is a harmful substance”.

I agree.  A review would be a waste of time. We already have all the evidence we need from around the world and it is clear that legalisation would reduce all harm, undermine the gangsters, cut street dealing and violence, protect children and families.

I also agree that “illicit drugs destroy lives” but it’s not the drugs that do that, it’s the fact that they’re illicit.  The law against cannabis causes far more harm than cannabis itself.

Yes, cannabis can be harmful but we have wealth of evidence showing that it is much less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, energy drinks, traffic pollution and many things we consume regularly. Peanuts and shellfish cause far more health harms than cannabis.

But even if you believe the hysteria and exaggeration about the dangers of cannabis, does it make sense to allow gangsters to control the market?  If it’s so dangerous, to protect children and the vulnerable, our government should take responsibility and take control of the market. Look what has happened in many other places, legal regulation of cannabis takes it off the streets and into licensed retailers who have to obey age limits, label their products so adults know what they are buying and pay taxes, which in the USA are raising millions of dollars which are spent on schools, healthcare, drugs education and other community projects.

In Britain we spend £6 billion every year on cannabis and on top of that hundreds of thousands of people grow their own. No one pays any taxes on it and all the profits are used by organised crime to fund other criminal activity.

It’s the criminal cannabis market that provides the funding for county lines.  Young people are groomed into delivering hard drugs by being offered “a bit of weed’. The epidemic of knife crime is driven largely by the gangs and they are funded by their trade in cannabis.  It funds prostitution, modern slavery, people trafficking, it’s where all the gangsters’ money comes from and the very last thing they want is for it to be legalised.

The alternative can be seen in reality in the USA, Canada, Uruguay and other places. In Canada, after just two years of legalisation, already more than half of all cannabis is bought through licensed retailers. In the USA, where cannabis is legalised, underage use has gone down.

The most important thing is that in these places there is now some real control over cannabis. Crime has been reduced. Gangsters don’t rule the streets anymore. There’s no problem with ‘Spice’ because why would anyone buy that dangerous synthetic when they can get the legal, top quality, much safer real thing?

In the USA there are now 350,000 new jobs in the legal cannabis industry. That’s equivalent to 50,000 new jobs in Britain and those are jobs that have been taken away from criminals. All those workers now pay taxes too.  It’s a win-win solution

Today it seems that the main opposition to legalising cannabis comes from the organised crime gangsters and from our politicians. Why? All they ever do is come out with the same non-explanations as Boris Johnson has.  They don’t seem to want to discuss the subject at all and most of them, including Boris, have said they have used cannabis themselves!

In fact, in a video that is widely available on social media, in the year 2000 Boris Johnson asks why his “respectable neighbours who roll up a spliff and quietly smoke it together” are “in breach of the law”?  And he says “I think there is a danger that the government is becoming out-of-touch with what people are actually doing”.

The truth is that legalisation is inevitable.  Every day that our politicians put it off they cause more harm. Another child is sold strong skunk on the street. Another young girl is groomed into using hard drugs by being offered some new clothes and a ‘bit of weed’. Another young man is stabbed to death in some stupid dispute over territory, the sort of argument that is dealt with by normal business methods in places where cannabis is legally regulated.

So next time you hear a politician being ‘tough on drugs’, realise that its not drugs he’s being tough on, it’s the people in your community.  Banning cannabis hasn’t worked, there is more of it consumed across the world than ever before. There is a choice, let the gangsters keep running it, terrorising our streets and communities or get tough on them!

Take away the cannabis trade from organised crime and take responsibility for it.  Control it.  Reduce its harms. Benefit from safer streets, increased tax revenue, more jobs, less crime. Ask your MP, whose side are you on?  Are you on our side, looking after us properly, or are you on the same side as the gangsters?

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 11, 2021 at 10:25 am

Chaos in Clapham is Down to Weak Leadership and Activist Martyrs

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All the weeping and wailing about these lawbreakers who were recklessly endangering the health of the people of Clapham is outrageous. I don’t give a damn what gender or colour they were and it’s clear to me that at least some of those arrested were ‘activists’ who went there with the intention of martyrdom and getting some big newspaper headlines. They’ve succeeded and the pathetic response of our political leaders is just more of the same weakness and incompetence that is becoming the norm.

As for the sycophantic, hypocritical media, the Twitterati and the dozy ‘wokesters’, they are beneath contempt and it’s time people got some backbone. None of this does anything at all to deal with street violence or the pandemic.

Having said that, the inconsistency of policing and allowing some events such as football celebrations to go ahead with minimal policing is a huge problem. The police should have co-operated with the group that wanted to organise a socially-distanced, phased attendance vigil.  That is the responsibility of senior officers. As for the ‘poor bloody infantry’, who had to deal with the mob, inflamed by agitators and activists, as usual they get undeserved blame.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 15, 2021 at 11:44 am

Posted in Politics

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Courage and Cannabidiol

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The story of how brave British small-businesses created a £1.7 billion market and now face destruction at the hands of the overbearing Food Standards Agency and its big business sponsors.

Hundreds of people who set up small businesses selling CBD products face the looming deadline of 31st March 2021 that the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has imposed for its ‘novel foods’ regulations to come into force.

These people, the essence of the British entrepreneurial spirit, are being crushed by misguided over-regulation that is not based on any evidence and which will gift the market to big business while removing from shelves the products which millions of people have gained great benefit from.

The FSA has not consulted with the industry in any meaningful fashion and is imposing draconian new rules which even at this late stage remain unclear, confusing and require enormous, unnecessary and wasteful expenditure in pointless bureaucracy.

To be clear, if you are one of those millions who discovered that CBD could help with anxiety, pain, insomnia and or a host of other conditions, the products you rely on may not be available much longer.  But there is a way through this. Read to the end of this article to find how you will still be able to access the ‘real CBD’ that you need.

The most important thing to understand is that there is no evidence anywhere in the world that anyone has ever come to any real harm from using CBD products. Despite this, the FSA is forcing businesses to put their products through an incredibly complex series of tests which cost a huge amount of money, in some instances hundreds of thousands of pounds.

Even the smallest companies are having to submit a dossiers on individual products which cost around £5000 each to produce.  Imagine how many bottles of CBD oil a small shop or website has to sell to pay for just one of these.  And they are completely pointless.  There is no need for them at all.  The FSA has just invented them and it’s nothing to do with public safety because there is no danger from any of the products concerned.

The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry

What this is really about is that big business missed out on the CBD boom.  They turned their corporate noses up at it, didn’t want to get involved because of the stigma and prejudice associated with anything to do with cannabis.  Then, within the space of a few years, they found that all their big customers, the multiples, were starting to stock CBD and it was selling very well indeed.  So much so that the value of CBD sold in Britain is now more than the value of all vitamin C and vitamin D products combined. It’s a huge market with estimates of its size ranging from £300 million to £1.7 billion per year (New Frontier Data).

So big business is now calling the shots.  A sinister organisation, the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI), run by a man, Steve Moore, with connections to the sleaziest end of the Conservative Party, is supporting the FSA in this scheme and his aim is simply to price small businesses out of the market and hijack it for his big business friends. Never has a bigger confidence trick been pulled on consumers. The small businesses that created the CBD market had established trade associations from within their own ranks which charged a few hundred pounds for membership and did an excellent job of representing the industry. The ACI demands membership fees of £25,000 per year, pricing out the small businesses and using its funding to bully and intimidate any business that doesn’t want to sign up.

Steve Moore of the Association for the Cannabinoid Industry

There are problems in the CBD market that need addressing. It does need better regulation. There are disreputable businesses selling products that are not what they claim.  They don’t have the amount of CBD in them that is advertised and they are certainly not medicines which can treat cancer, diabetes, depression and serious illnesses.  But these problems are already covered by existing laws. The problem is they are simply not being enforced.  The regulators who should be acting against these rogue companies include the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and Trading Standards.  Despite reputable CBD businesses delivering hundreds of reports about rogue suppliers, virtually nothing has been done.  To be fair the MHRA and Trading Standards just don’t have the resources to carry out this work, so the idea of giving them even more work, with incredibly complex regulations to enforce, is just barmy.  It makes no sense.

The Human Medicines Regulations 2012

Even our largest newspaper publishers have been allowed to get away with breaching the Human Medicines Regulations 2012 which prevent anyone from making a commercial gain out of claiming medicinal benefit for a product which is not a licensed medicine. This criminal offence can result in a two year prison sentence, yet the Daily Mail runs such ads every day.  So do most of the tabloids and those newspapers that like to call themseleves ‘quality’, do something equally illegal. They run advertorials or sponsored reviews of products which if you click and buy pay the publishers commission.

These crimes have been reported to the MHRA and to the ASA but they have done nothing about it and the illegal advertising continues to this day.  As for the confidence trickster companies making these illegal medicinal claims, nothing has been done about them either and they continue to scam people with cancer cures and miracle medicines.  Now the ACI is using this conduct as part of the justification for their ‘novel foods’ scam. Of course the two issues are completely unrelated.

But all is not lost.  Undoubtedly, the ‘real CBD’, the whole plant extract, containing all the goodness and nourishment extracted from low-THC cannabis plants, will be taken off the shelves of the multiples but there will be a flourishing ‘grey’ market, mainly online and there will be nothing that the FSA, ACI or their enforcers will be able to do about it.

The FSA’s understanding of CBD and cannabis is virtually non-existent. The original CBD trade associations spent years trying to educate FSA’s people and urging them to co-operate on appropriate regulation but they didn’t want to know. Now the FSA has chosen to listen to its own and ACI’s ‘experts’ who are trained and indoctrinated in the prohibition mindset. Consequently its statements and rulings on its new regulations are so poorly drafted that they leave a gaping hole for the brave, pioneering businesses that created this market.  A genuine, whole plant oil that preserves the natural proportions of the compounds in the hemp plants from which it is extracted is molecularly identical to those plants and hemp is specifically excluded from novel foods regulations.

So ‘whole plant’ is what you must look for if you want ‘real CBD’, the product that so many people benefit from.  The ACI and FSA are pushing nasty, ineffective isolates and synthetics that are useless in comparison and require far higher doses to achieve the same results as a few drops of whole plant oil.

One More Problem as the Home Office Steps In on THC Levels

CBD originally took off because more and more people were becoming aware of the medicinal benefits of cannabis. CBD was seen as a way to enjoy some of these benefits legally and without getting ‘high’ from the THC in cannabis.  But CBD was always a euphemism to avoid the stigma around cannabis and to reassure people they weren’t buying something illegal. In fact, whole plant CBD products are low-THC cannabis oil.  Under a provision of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations, a trace amount of 1mg of THC per bottle of CBD oil has  been allowed. It’s far too little to get anyone high. You’d have to drink about three bottles in one go before you felt anything.

But surprise, surprise, now the Home Office has started to get involved too. Again, without a shred of evidence of any harm, it is considering reducing this limit very substantially.

Why?

Undoubtedly this is co-ordinated with the FSA and the ACI. The aim is the same, to destroy the small businesses that created this market, to ramp up the costs of selling CBD so high that only big business can afford it and to prohibit the sale of the whole plant, low-THC cannabis oil that is so valuable for so many people.  And there is no credible evidence to support any of it, except what the FSA has cooked up to support its pre-determined conclusion. There is no evidence that the trace amounts of THC in whole plant oil have or could cause anyone any harm and it is all part of the same scam.

So remember, if you want ‘real CBD’, you’re going to have to go online. Look for those courageous businesses that provide whole plant extracts and avoid isolate or synthetic products which are a waste of money.

Review. ‘Drug Use for Grown-Ups’ By Dr Carl L. Hart

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“I discovered that the predominant effects produced by the drugs discussed in this book are positive,” Carl L. Hart writes in his new book. “It didn’t matter whether the drug in question was cannabis, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine or psilocybin.”

Carl Hart is a tenured professor of psychology at Columbia University, an experienced neuroscientist and a father. He believes that if “grown-ups” like him would talk freely about the role of drugs in their lives, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are in, a mess brought about by our ruinous drug policies, which have had such profound — and profoundly unequal — consequences for those who fall afoul of them.”

I’m reading Carl Hart’s book. Like him, I’m fortunate to have avoided any legal consequence from my ‘hobby’.  I share his advantage of having a decent education but I’m also white and from a relatively privileged, solid, two parent, loving family background.  If it wasn’t for this I doubt I would have been so lucky.  At one point in my life my hobby did become a habit but it was my advantages that got me through.
The older I become the more I realise that our appalling drugs policies are about class and race discrimination and they only serve to make these divisions worse. This is why our politicians do nothing because they, like me, can get away with doing as they wish.

Written by Peter Reynolds

February 28, 2021 at 3:15 pm

WWIII against COVID19. The EU against the People of Europe

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In WWII, Britain’s single-handed efforts, later assisted by America and Russia, saved the people of Europe from the Nazis. Today, another dark shadow lies across Europe. A sinister force, another authoritarian autocracy, has infiltrated Germany and France and is trying to dominate the entire continent, using a pandemic to pursuse its aims of total domination.
 
Once again, Britain has escaped by the skin of its teeth and using its legendary science and innovation expertise has developed the ultimate vaccine to defeat the virus. The EU advances its new blitzkrieg, trying to seize control of all vaccines, irrespective of ethics, morality and contracts.
 
So the people of Europe rely on Britain for deliverance from their nemesis. We are ready, once more, in the name of freedom, to come to their rescue.
 
I admit, my tongue is slightly in the vicinity of my cheek but the idea of Ursula von der Leyen ranting hysterically because her generals have totally screwed up their supply chain is pretty close.

Written by Peter Reynolds

January 29, 2021 at 6:44 pm

Posted in Health, Politics

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My Predictions for Cannabis in the UK in 2021

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On medicinal cannabis, the senior clinicians and bureaucrats at NHS, NICE and the professional medical bodies will continue to do all they can to block access. Until key individuals are offered fat fees to run clinical trials they will continue to insist that this is the only form of evidence that is acceptable. They will continue to ignore and reject all evidence from overseas. The clamour from more and more patients will grow. The private clinics will boom but our political ‘leaders’ will continue to be impotent in the face of the vested interests of the medical establishment.

The Cancard will take off and police forces will welcome it as a sensible solution.  More and more people will grow their own and cannabis will become completely decriminalised by default.  Only if you’re behaving like an idiot or are engaged in large scale commercial grows and/or gangsterism will the police be interested.  Again our political ‘leaders’ will be useless and too scared of the tabloid media and their bigoted, poorly-informed backbenchers to do anything.  Meanwhile the cannabis trade will continue to drive county lines, knife crime, prostitution, modern slavery, all off the back of profits from cannabis but Boris and his buffoons will refuse to understand this or follow the evidence that legal regulation is the solution.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA), in collaboration with the big business lobbyists, The Association for the Cannabinoid Industry (ACI) , will succeed in getting all the multiples and major retailers to stop selling whole plant CBD extracts, which are what work and what consumers want. Dozens of small CBD companies who actually built this market will be put out of business by the FSA/ACI and hundreds of people will lose their jobs.  FSA/ACI will continue to ramp up their false propaganda that CBD can be toxic despite a complete absence of any real world evidence – all this with the intention of pricing small, artisan suppliers out of the market. Nasty, ineffective, isolate-based products will come to dominate the high street. Despite this, whole plant extracts will continue to be available online and the FSA will discover that it can’t enforce its rules because its definition of ‘novel food’ doesn’t actually fit genuine whole plant extracts.  They will bring prosecutions against some suppliers but these will fail once expert evidence is adduced.

The legal British cannabis market will continue to develop in faltering steps because of the obstacles inherent in the way the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 is applied. The government is terrified to undertake the wholesale reform that is urgently needed because of outdated and ignorant attitudes.  It’s so transfixed by the drugs issue that it won’t even make the small tweaks to regulations on industrial hemp, exempt products and licensing that would give a massive boost to business prospects.  I can see no chance of any progress until the Covid crisis is over and ministers have more bandwidth to look at other issues.  Even then it’s going to need some new blood in cabinet.  Although Boris Johnson himself probably does have the instinct for reform, he is surrounded by third rate ministers, most of whom could never be considered progressive and are hardly visionary or ambitious thinkers.

The Birch-Moore cartel will continue to try and monopolise the entire British cannabis space.  Paul Birch, the multimillionaire stoner who landed a fortune from shares in his brother’s business, provides the cash and Steve Moore, former architect of David Cameron’s damp squib ‘Big Society’ project, runs the show. Volteface, Centre for Medicinal Cannabis, the ACI, Hanway Associates, Familes4Access are all different faces of the same core team, all characterised by generous funding, a young, aggressive team and an arrogant disdain for everyone else in the market.  Birch’s money has definitely brought some welcome benefits and was the missing ingredient in achieving the media coverage which led to the legalisation of medicinal cannabis in 2018.  They took ideas and policies developed by other groups and added a well-funded PR operation because the reality is that however important your message, without the hard cash you just don’t get coverage on daytime TV and the main news programmes.  Aside from causing great division, particularly amongst the families campaigning for their epileptic children, the negative and malevolent aspects of their work is best demonstrated by the ACI’s manipulation of the CBD market and bullying of many small businesses.

I’m hopeful that at least in Scotland, which has the worst drug deaths record in Europe, there will be some progress on dealing with problematic hard drug use and its consequences.  The heroic actions of Peter Krykant, who is illegally running a mobile drugs consumption room in Glasgow and saving lives every day, have had a big impact.  This man deserves every bit as much praise as Captain Tom, Marcus Rashford or anyone else who has engaged in altruistic campaigning in 2020. He deserves a knighthood. As I write this, the latest reports suggest Nicola Sturgeon might even defy the dinosaurs in Westminster and fund appropriate harm reduction measures which are so desperately needed.

Until our political ‘leaders’ wake up to the fact that the entire criminal drugs market and the tens of billions it costs the UK are driven by the prohibition of cannabis there will be no real progress either on reducing the cost or improving public health.  The kids who are being stabbed on London’s streets, the young people who are trafficked and the vulnerable hard drug addicts who are being cuckooed as part of county lines dealing, it all starts with the criminal trade in cannabis.  That’s where the money comes from and until the market is taken away from the gangsters and properly regulated, things will only get worse.

Although we’ve all despaired about some aspects of the US political system, the progress on cannabis, even in Republican states, shows what real democracy can achieve. Local ballots have forced reluctant and often hostile politicians to comply with what the people want and make cannabis legally available.  The Biden-Harris team have promised federal decriminalisation and expungement of criminal records for all non-violent cannabis offences.  I think this will happen.  Even if the Republicans retain control of the Senate this issue has built up a head of steam that won’t be stopped. Remarkably, the one issue that transcends the terrible divides in American politics is cannabis.  If the Senate goes Democrat we could see much more far-reaching change.  And once the federal law on cannabis changes, you watch all the slimeball politicians throughout the rest of the world pretending that’s what they wanted all along.

Overall, I am optimistic. Hopefully, as we head through summer and into autumn next year, Covid will be behind us, we’ll all be back to earning a proper living and a lot closer to enjoying our cannabis in freedom, for pleasure, medicine or both.  My very best wishes and the compliments of the season.

Written by Peter Reynolds

December 24, 2020 at 12:51 pm

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