Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

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.

Review. ‘For Ava’. For the Shame of Simon Harris, Fine Gael and the Irish Government

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An extraordinary book. Vera’s achievement as a novice author matches her achievement as a novice campaigner. I’ve worked with people who use cannabis as medicine for 40 years and I thought I was pretty hardened to the tragic and distressing stories but the tears were running down my face as I read this.

I was concerned it might be a rather turgid list of events but far from it, it is a riveting read. It is almost like a thriller, beautifully structured, it grabs you and won’t let you put it down as you have to turn to the next page.

The central message is of the inhumanity of bureaucracy and self-serving politicians who are not interested in an issue unless it can bring them easy and positive media coverage. They are impotent in the face of lobbying from vested interests such as the pharma industry and the medical establishment and prefer to do nothing rather than risk controversy, even while children suffer needlessly.

A magnificent achievement and SHAME on Simon Harris, Fine Gael and the Irish government. They will face judgement at the highest level for their inaction, cowardice and feeble conduct.

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 5, 2019 at 9:04 am

After Three Years Bickering, Parliament Must Now Submit To The People

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HM The Queen has agreed the prime minister’s request to prorogue Parliament. This virtually extinguishes any chance of MPs being able to delay Brexit any longer.  It looks, at last, as if democracy will prevail in the UK and the people will have defeated the outlaw Parliament.

How did this shower of incompetents ever get elected in the first place?  How did they come to so badly misunderstand the public mood that they set Parliament against the people? And how have they so badly mismanaged their own affairs that they are now shut out from causing any further delay?

At the root of it is our corrupt and profoundly undemocratic political party and constituency system. We never have any real choice of who to elect as our MP and most of them are so arrogant that they don’t give a damn what we think anyway.  The only options we are presented with are candidates who have been selected by out-of-touch party  activists and in most constituencies it makes no difference how you vote because the sitting party will always win whoever they put up as candidate.

It’s no suprise then the quality of candidates is so poor or that once in power they maintain a system that gives as many of them as possible a job for life.  As they’ve shown by the way they have fumbled their attempts to wreck Brexit, they are useless, useless idiots. Perhaps only half a dozen worthy of any respect.

The truth is that British democracy is not fit for purpose. It serves the political class, not the people. We need root and branch reform. If I had my way, at the next General Election I’d bar all sitting MPs from ever standing again. I’d rearrange all constituency boundaries strictly on the size of the population. I’d introduce a system of primaries where each party had to put at least two people up for voters to decide who would be the candidates. I’d make MPs legally obliged to represent their constituent’s views based on local opinion polls and their contract of employment would require minimum standards of service in trms of deaing with constituents’ issues, complaints and emails.

I fervently hope that Brexit will cause a massive shake up of these incompetents and many will decide not to stand again.  The gravy train has come to the end of the line and they can’t even catch the shuttle to Brussels now for a cozy retirement plan.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 28, 2019 at 5:01 pm

Posted in Politics

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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

Biarritz

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I know this beach very well.  I very nearly drowned there about 30 years ago.

I think it was probably 1991.  I was still married and my wife, Sharon, and I, with our two boys, Richard and Evan, had driven down to South West France on holiday, staying mainly at campsites.  Evan, who turned 30 last week, was still a baby, in a car seat, and Richard wasn’t more than four or five.  It was a great holiday and we did the same the following year.  The farthest south we ever travelled was San Sebastian and I have vivid memories of us eating lunch in a chaotic restaurant there.

But back to Biarritz and my near death experience. It was my ‘surfing period’ and atop the car was my custom made yellow surfboard, emblazoned, I am sure you will be amused to hear, with a large leaf from a certain favourite plant!

I shall never forget the sea that day.  There was no wind, it was flat calm, like a mill pond, except for massive 10 – 12 foot waves rolling in and pounding the beach with surf.  ‘Glassy’ is the surfing term and until you see it, this combination of calm water and hugely powerful waves is very difficult to understand.

I paddled out and getting beyond the break was impossibly difficult.  When the waves broke there was still a six to eight feet high torrent of white water to get past and trying to duck dive underneath it showed up all my lack of big wave experience.

Eventually I made it but I was absolutely exhausted.  I’ve been a very strong swimmer all my life but that had taken all my energy and then I realised that I was being pulled rapidly out to sea.  The rip current had got me and there was nothing I could do.  I tried everything, paddling parallel to the beach across the current in both directions and coming off the board and trying to swim out towing the board behind me with my leash.  Nothing worked and then came the beginnings of panic.

Since a small boy in South Wales, I had delighted played in big waves, well what I thought were big waves but the power of these Atlantic rollers was like nothing I had ever experienced and the rip current they were creating was like an unstoppable train.  Never before and never since have I been so close to absolute panic, nausea deep in my stomach, helpless, this is it, I thought.  By now. I was beyond the large rock Boris is pointing at in the picture

Then, out from the beach, paddling furiously, came another surfer. He undid his leash, threw it to me and started to tow me back in.  I was just flat out on my board and somehow he managed to get us both back in.  I collapsed on the beach, gasping for air and as I recovered I looked around for my saviour.  He asked if I was OK and I thanked him profusely in my very poor French, he didn’t speak a word of English. Mostly though I was coming to terms with the fact that he just about came up to my shoulder.  He was tiny, almost like a child and then brushing aside my gratitude he sprang back towards the sea, threw himself on his board and paddled out into the maelstrom once again.

My humiliation was total.  I couldn’t believe how one so small had shown me up for the lumbering, clumsy amateur that I was! It took me another half hour to recover from the physical ordeal and mental trauma.  What a lesson learned!  My memories of that day in Biarritz when I nearly drowned will never fade.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 25, 2019 at 5:14 pm

Posted in Biography, sport

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Never Understimate The Power Of Leadership

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At last! After three years of miserable, negative, guaranteed-to-fail incompetence, we have a leader who will make things happen.

Theresa May was a dreadful home secretary and our worst ever prime minister.  Everything she did at the Home Office went wrong. To use the adjective she once chose, she’s a nasty politician, and the Conservatives were stupid, utterly barmy, to make her leader.  As I’ve written before, she never had an ounce of leadership ability. She is an authoritarian bureaucrat, a pen pusher with out-of-date, out-of-touch, discriminatory and spiteful ideas and no ability at all but administration.  I wouldn’t put her in charge of anything except an office full of not very bright book keepers.

Boris is exactly what Britain needs.

They say he’s Marmite but I don’t agree.  I like lots but there’s also some that I dislike.  He’s flaky, unreliable and I wouldn’t lend him a tenner. If you gave him your bag of coke to go to the loo with, you wouldn’t trust him to bring it back.

It doesn’t matter. he’s still the right man for the job.

The EU and the particularly oily Michel Barnier have totally humilated us.  Our negotiating position and ability have been atrocious, worse than useless.  It’s time now to remind the EU that they are dealing with Britain, the fifth largest economy and the world leader in soft power,

We have let our star fall far too far.  It is time to put things right and Boris is the man to do that.  After he’s got us through this we can put someone serious and boring in charge.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 30, 2019 at 9:33 pm

Posted in Politics

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Boris To Back Cannabis?

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I believe the stars are aligned. The time is right.  Cannabis law reform has become a political opportunity instead of a problem and Boris Johnson is the politician who could exploit it for his personal advantage but also for great benefit to the whole nation.

Public opinion is now clearly onside. According to the latest poll, twice as many people (48%) support legalisation as oppose it, an overwhelming 77% support legal access to cannabis as medicine and 22% support legalising ‘grow-your-own’.

Remarkably this poll was commissioned by the newly-formed Conservative Drug Policy Reform Group, a development which itself shows how dramatically opinion has changed, even amongst the party of government.

The headlines around Michael Gove’s past use of cocaine led to an outpouring of confessions from politicians of all parties and those who admitted to consuming cannabis brushed it aside as of little consequence.

The evidence coming from Colorado, which legalised five years ago, is very clear that legalisation works and there have been no significant negative consequences. In Canada and California, which legalised more recently, aside from teething troubles, everything is looking good.

The economic case for legalisation is very strong with estimates predicting at least £1 billion up to as much as £7 billion net gain from additional tax revenue and reduced law enforcement costs.

The thunderous clamour from international business is becoming deafening.  If the UK doesn’t catch up with the fast-moving pace of reform it is going to lose out very significantly.

It’s clear the police have absolutely no interest, nor the resources, to enforce the laws against personal possession, consumption or low-level cultivation of cannabis.

I hear from a very close and reliable source who works in the criminal courts every day, that throughout the system, judges, barristers, solicitors, police officers, probation workers, everyone thinks that there is no point in enforcing these laws anymore and they do more harm than good.

So, if next week Boris Johnson becomes PM, then probably on 31st October, if not very shortly afterwards, we will leave the EU.  Then we will have a General Election because he cannot miss the opportunity while the Labour Party is in its present state of self-destruction.

A new Boris Johnson government will be radical.  He will want to assert his credentials as a liberal and a supporter of business and free markets.  He will also want to support the police and do something to tackle knife crime which is almost entirely driven by the failed drugs policy of prohibition.  It will be a no brainer for Boris to back cannabis.

Written by Peter Reynolds

July 18, 2019 at 3:13 pm