Peter Reynolds

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Review. ‘The CBD Book. The Essential Guide to CBD Oil’ by Mary Biles

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If you are looking for a basic guide to CBD, then this is the book for you. If you’re looking for a more advanced guide, with in-depth detail about research, then this is also the book for you.

In fact, even if you’re a doctor or scientist, looking for the most comprehensive, user-orientated information about CBD, this is a remarkable achievement by the author, Mary Biles, who I am fortunate to count as a friend and she can justifiably be very proud of it.

As writers in the cannabis space, Mary and I have followed similar paths, so I understand exactly the challenges she will have faced in writing this book and she has handled them wisely.  It is easy-to-read, not in the least dry but manages to pack in a great deal of valuable information, clearly explained scientific evidence and sensible advice which will be of great benefit to all readers.

Contents include the basic science of cannabis, cannabinoids, CBD and the endocannabinoid system; an excellent section on research into using CBD for many medical conditions; wellness; how to take CBD and some useful case studies.

Mary sticks to the science but has a deeper understanding that is not found in simplistic objectivity.  Experience, both her own and learned from others, shows that the absence of evidence does not mean CBD doesn’t work but also that more extreme claims need to be treated with healthy scepticism.

Highly recommended and I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 29, 2020 at 4:45 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

The Truth About Why The NHS Is Refusing to Prescribe Medicinal Cannabis

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The reason it is impossible to get medicinal cannabis prescribed on the NHS is not really about doctors’ clinical judgement. There are a growing number of doctors that do want to prescribe but they are being blocked by NHS bureaucrats and the senior clinicians that are responsible for drafting professional guidelines.

Although they aren’t law, these guidelines are what NHS Trusts rely on when they refuse to provide funding.  And this is a huge problem, not just for people in pain who can’t get a medicine that they know works, but for the fundamental nature of our democracy and government. The NHS medical establishment is defying the will of Parliament. It is through Parliament that we make policy in this country and MPs have decided that medicinal cannabis should be made available.

This decision was made by Parliament based on medical evidence from around the world that millions of people gain great benefit from cannabis. Of course, the potential side effects were considered and will have been compared with the side effects of other medicines, particularly the highly addictive and life-threatening nature of opioids. Although you wouldn’t know it from all the scaremongering, there are no case reports anywhere in the world of patients receiving cannabis under medical supervision coming to any significant harm. There is no doubt that cannabis is safe as a medicine. Those opposed to it, usually with vested financial interests, are trying to second guess and undermine a decision that has already been made, often with spurious claims of harms caused by smoking it in its most potent form as a recreational drug.

It’s time that the medical establishment complied with the law. That doesn’t mean taking instructions from politicians, it means working constructively to deliver what has been decided, not finding excuse after excuse and being as obstructive as possible.

The senior clinicians responsible for drafting the guidelines, from the Royal Colleges and other professional bodies, notably the British Paediatric Neurology Association (BPNA), are the same people who have failed to provide up-to-date medical education on the endocannabinoid system. This is the system through which cannabis exerts its therapeutic effects and is now known to be the largest and most fundamental neurotransmitter system in the body. Yet it is barely covered at all in any UK medical school. These same people are also responsible for running and supervising the clinical trials that pharmaceutical companies use to prove the safety and efficacy of their new products. For this they receive very substantial fees and long-running sponsorship for their institutions.  The conflict of interest is obvious, yet is being entirely overlooked.

Professor Finbar O’Callaghan of the BPNA has single-handedly obstructed NHS access to cannabis by hundreds of children with epilepsy that conventional treatment does not help. He describes his professional interests as having “particular emphasis on epidemiology and clinical trials“.  If a cannabis-based medicine for paediatric epilepsy was to be trialled, Professor O’Callaghan would very likely be hired for it.  So it’s hardly surprising that he is opposed to any medicine that hasn’t been through a clinical trial!  It’s worth repeating – the conflict of interest is obvious, yet is being entirely overlooked.

Vested interests mean many doctors prefer to prescribe unlimited quantities of opioids, benzodiazepines and senior clinicians are more focused on earning fees from clinical trials than looking at evidence that is already available. We have a regulatory system which is designed by pharma, for pharma, administered by ex-pharma employees and cannabis is a threat. When the UK eventually gets a domestic cannabis production industry, prices will plummet and we will have a safe, cheap, palliative medicine that can help with many conditions.

Most of the 1.4 million people in the UK already using medicinal cannabis are still breaking the law.  This is astonishing when you think our Parliament acted two years ago to ensure they didn’t have to!  This is all down to a combination of arrogance and ignorance in the far-too-hallowed halls of our oldest medical institutions. Like it or not, medicinal cannabis is now legal and is going to take its rightful place as a first choice medicine in Britain. Let’s put aside the prejudice, put patients’ interests first and start delivering the enormous benefits it can offer.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 6, 2020 at 6:05 pm

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Professor Mike Barnes On The Safety Of Cannabis As Medicine

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“Cannabis is remarkably safe.  We know there are some people who shouldn’t be prescribed cannabis. Those, for example, with schizophrenia or psychosis but for the great majority of the population it’s quite safe to prescribe by a responsible doctor who knows and understands cannabis.

We shouldn’t forget, there’s more we know about the safety of cannabis than any other medicine in the history of man.  The reason for that is 165 million people on this earth use cannabis every day for medical, spiritual or recreational purposes. 165 million people. There’s not any pharmaceutical product that could be introduced that has that depth of experience and knowledge of its safety profile. It’s not safe for everyone but it is safe for the great majority and it works for the great majority.  We must try it.”

Source: Professor Mike Barnes, ITV This Morning, 20th August 2020. See: https://youtu.be/aGRPWLY39Pg from 12:41

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 21, 2020 at 11:11 am

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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

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

NICE’s Draft Guidelines on Cannabis Prove That Its Methods Don’t Work and It Is Causing Harm to Patients

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The draft guidelines produced by the NICE committee are nothing short of ridiculous.  There is a complete absence of common sense and an absurd failure properly to consider all the available evidence.

But it’s actually much more serious than this.  It is now abundantly clear that this committee, its membership and its conclusions were only ever intended to delay, obfuscate and sabotage the reforms which were introduced in November last year because of a public outcry.

The selection of members of the committee is by any standards corrupt.  The most highly qualified people have been deliberately excluded.  Anyone publicly expressing support for the use of cannabis as medicine has been rejected whereas those selected have frequently expressed opposition.  The inclusion of the ‘reefer madness’ advocate Professor Finbar O’Callaghan is both reprehensible and inexcusable. If the man had any ethical standards or conscience he would recuse hismself. The committee is a confidence trick.

The medical establishment, the Home Office and all the various regulators, including the MHRA, the FSA and the Royal Colleges are all institutionally opposed to cannabis and they are doing everything they can to stop it reaching the people who can benefit from it.  Cannabis, the more intelligent approach to medicine it both requires and inspires, threatens too many vested interests and the comfortable, self-satisfied and self-serving model of healthcare that prevails in Britain.

But if any NICE apparatchik or fat cat pharma supremo thinks they can stop cannabis they are fooling themselves.  From right around the world the overwhelming weight of expert opinion and patient experience reveals that what is happening in Britain is merely delaying the inevitable. But in the meantime it is causing great suffering and unnecessary harm to patients.  It is a scandal of the highest order and the people responsible for it must be called to account.

CLEAR has responded to the consultation on the draft guidelines in great detail.  Without reproducing our line by line commentary, these are our three general observations.

1. The entire guideline is characterised by a failure to consider observational evidence and real-world experience.  Cannabis is the oldest medicine known to mankind and failure to give substantial weight to real-world experience of its safety and efficacy is nothing short of absurd. Given its illegality over the past 100 years, the wild scaremongering about its recreational use and therefore the lack of formal clinical evidence, this is simply setting it up to fail. It is irresponsible in the extreme to fail to consider the enormous benefit at very low cost and the very few adverse events associated with illicit cannabis.

2. There is little evidence of potential for harm for cannabis for any medical condition. Given the enormous numbers using cannabis in its most potent form as a recreational drug and/or self-medicating (estimated at 250 million regular users worldwide) there are far fewer adverse events or incidents of harm than for common over-the-counter medicines.

3. The weight given throughout the guideline to the potential for harm of cannabis is wildly disproportionate.  There is no evidence of any significant harm from cannabis when used as a medicine, especially when under the supervision of a medical professional.  At least 10,000 years of human experience shows that cannabis is essentially safe. Seeking to evaluate its safety in the same way as a new, experimental medicine, synthesised in a lab for which there is no real-world experience is a fundamentally flawed approach.  Unlike potentially dangerous or unsafe medicines, cannabis can and should be offered to patients on a ‘try it and see’ basis.  Instead of being over-cautious, clinicians should welcome this approach and can be certain that it will benefit patients whether or not in proves effective in individual cases.

BBC Horizon to Ramp Up Discredited Kings College ‘Skunk Scaremongering’

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Dr Marta di Forti. Scientist or Skunk Scaremonger?

Tonight’s BBC Horizon is going to follow the long-established BBC policy of overstating and exaggerating the potential harms of cannabis.

From clips already released it is clear the programme is to promote as gospel truth the hysterical scaremongering and fanciful statistical projections coming from Dr Marta di Forti at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry. This so-called scientist and her colleagues base all their conclusions on profoundly unscientific methods, false assumptions, bizarre statistical trickery and the misuse of the tabloid term ‘skunk’ as if it actually means something.

This is the way the BBC has always operated – to support the false narrative of the establishment about cannabis, to demonise it, to minimise if not ridicule its medicinal benefits and to cherry pick evidence and biased opinion to support its case.

Anyone with any real knowledge of cannabis who has spent any time properly reseraching the evidence will know that Dr di Forti’s projections and claims are ridiculous.  This is a British phenomenom.  It occurs nowhere else in the world.  Every other nation’s media, scientific and medical community takes a balanced and realistic view and recognises that cannabis is largely benign and for 99% of people, 99% of the time is harmless.  Perhaps most instruictive is that virtually nowhere else in the world will you hear the word ‘skunk’ used by real scientists.  Originally the name of a specific strain of cannabis it is now merely a scary word used to frighten people and it has no specific or defined meaning.  Its use is, in fact, the very opposite of science.

But don’t take my word for it. In a devastating critique of di Forti’s latest 2019 study, read the words of leading scientists from Australia and the Netherlands as they dismantle di Forti’s wild overclaiming and statistical trickery: High-potency cannabis and incident psychosis: correcting the causal assumption

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 28, 2019 at 10:29 am

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.

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