Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘blog

Home Office Drug Strategy Blog – Brokenshire The Buffoon

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James Brokenshire introduces the new Home Office drug strategy blog here.

It is difficult to contain the contempt in which I hold this odious and dishonest little man.  His brazen cheek in believing that he has anything of honour or relevance to publish on the internet is astounding.  Is he really so isolated in his ivory tower that he doen’t realise how much he and his polices are despised and reviled?  Does he not know that he is subject to intense ridicule and disrespect at his absurd ideas and propaganda?  Doesn’t he know that he is universally regarded as a complete prat – by all his colleagues, doctors, scientists, members of the ACMD, everyone who comes into contact with him?

This is my comment.  I did my best to restrain myself and stay polite.  I wonder whether it will be published?

There are many, many things wrong with Britain’s drug strategy. We now have one of the most regressive, authoritarian and oppressive drug policies anywhere in the world.  Only in places where they execute people for drug possession such as Malaysia or China are there more backwards, unjust and outdated ideas being implemented.

No omission or error is more heinous though than the failure even to mention the medicinal use of cannabis.  With the new understanding of the endocannabinoid system and its vital importance to all aspects of human physiology, the power of cannabis as medicine is self-evident.  Throughout Europe, doctors are able to prescribe medicinal cannabis to patients.  Extraordinary results are achieved in multiple sclerosis, neuropathic pain, Crohn’s, cancer, ADHD and many other conditions. Meanwhile the British government continues with what can only be described as its inane response that “there are no medicinal benefits in cannabis”.  It is not just a stupid policy. It is cruel.  Hundreds of thousands of British citizens are denied access to the medicine that could relieve their pain and suffering. Meanwhile, in virtually every other country in Europe except France, in Israel and in 15 US states, cannabis is being used as medicine and achieving wonderful results.

Those denied their medicine in Britain are humiliated that European patients can bring medicinal cannabis into Britain and use it under the protection of the Schengen Agreement.  This is a cruel and unusual punishment for the crime of being resident in Britain.

The British drug strategy is a joke throughout the world except amongst those agencies and drug workers that depend upon it for their living.  It is a shame on our great nation and an extreme indictment of our political system which allows such discredited, cruel and self-defeating policies to persist.

The prohibition of medicinal cannabis is perhaps the best example of how utterly useless, out of date and hopeless is current government drugs policy.

European Parliament – Public Hearing On Cannabis Regulation

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The European Coalition for Just and Effective Drug Policies (ENCOD) has organised a public hearing on cannabis regulation at the European Parliament on 8th December 2010.  See here for full details.

In March 2009, the European Commission published the “Report on Global Illicit Drug Markets 1998 – 2007” .  This concludes that current policies of prohibition are failing in their main objective to reduce the demand and supply of illicit drugs.  Current policies may also be a crucial factor in generating and increasing harm to individual drug users, their direct surroundings and society at large.

According to the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) in its 2010 annual report, Europe faces new challenges posed by changes in drug supply and use.  The report also highlights the increased usage of cocaine, heroin and of a record number of new synthetic drugs.

ENCOD says that prohibitionist policies have failed to tackle the issues of drugs and drug use effectively and it is time to investigate alternative approaches.  European authorities must produce a thorough impact assessment of the costs of the current policy of prohibition and the economic benefits of decriminalisation and, as a start, the regulation of the cannabis market.

Victor Hamilton

It has been calculated that cannabis regulation would save billions in law enforcement costs, foster harm reduction, weaken the illegal cartels, and provide the opportunity to generate considerable income from taxes. The examples of California, Spain, The Netherlands and Portugal lead the way.

Victor Hamilton, the well known cannabis campaigner and former Legalise Cannabis Alliance (LCA) parliamentary candidate, liaises as a UK representative with ENCOD.   He has submitted the following letter to ENCOD in advance of the public hearing on the current state of cannabis in Britain.

Dear Joep,
Thank you for the invitation to attend the hearing on 8th December 2010.  I am afraid that both my health and the expense involved prevent me from attending.

However, as you know, ending the prohibition of cannabis and encouraging more and better use of the plant in all its forms is my main concern.  Cannabis offers many benefits medicinally, recreationally, spiritually and, as hemp, in ecologically sound fuel, construction materials, paper and plastics alternatives.  Prohibition of cannabis is a far greater crime than any perpetrated by those who use it.  It is a scandal and a sad litany of wasted opportunity and resources.

In the UK, based on research I have done and confirmed by the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit (IDMU), a legalise, regulate and tax regime could produce between £4 – 6 billion pa in new tax revenue.

For the benefit of the hearing, please allow me to update you on the present situation in Britain.

Calls For Decriminalisation

There have been calls for a relaxation of cannabis laws from a number of sources:  The Bar Council, the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians, The Lancet, Professor Roger Pertwee, Professor David Nutt and the Association of Chief Police Officers.  The new coalition government’s “Your Freedom” website was swamped with calls for legalisation.

Reaction To Propositon 19

The cannabis community was eager with anticipation for the Proposition 19 vote in California, despite a dearth of media attention.  Even the BBC, obliged under its charter to provide balanced coverage, found very little time for an issue that affects at least six million Britons.  Strangely, the best of the lot was The Daily Telegraph, formerly known as the most conservative paper, it told us more about what was happening than any of the others.

The result was a disappointment and reminded us how our own campaigning has suffered from internal divisions and a lack of focus.  Nevertheless. legalisation seems inevitable in the US, even if only at state level, within the next few years.

Formation of British Medicinal Cannabis Register

This exciting initiative to create a database of medicinal users in Britain was announced only in November.  I was honoured to be invited to sit on the BMCR council as a medicinal user representative.  Other members of the council include very eminent individuals such as Baroness Meacher, the MP Paul Flynn, Matthew Atha of IDMU and Dr Malcolm Vandenburg, the pre-eminent expert witness on drugs.

The real coup though was the announcement of Professor Leslie Iversen as a council member.  Professor Iversen is the government’s chief scientific advisor on drugs.  Yes that’s the British government which continues to state that cannabis has “no medicinal benefits”.

Subversion of Schengen Agreement

Several British medicinal users travelled to Holland for prescriptions from a doctor believing that their medicine was then protected by the Schengen Agreement.  At first the Home Office agreed but then changed its position to say that British residents are not covered.  The ridiculous situation now is that any non-UK resident can bring prescribed medicinal cannabis into Britain and use it without restriction. A UK resident cannot.

Increasing Evidence Of Medicinal Benefits

There is a never ending flow of information from all around the world on the extraordinary power of cannabis as a medicine.  Facebook groups, blogs and organisations such as the LCA and UKCIA keep spreading the news.  Particularly strong evidence has been revealed for cannabinoids as a treatment for Alzheimer’s, head, neck, breast and prostate cancer, fibromyalgia, ADHD and migraine.  The mainstream media seem only interested in scandal and scare stories. They publish news about vastly expensive new pharmaceutical products but not about cannabis cures.

Confusion At The Home Office

Understandably, the British government’s position looks increasingly absurd.  The Home Office veers between describing cannabis as very harmful, harmful, dangerous, extremely dangerous and changes its story every time it is challenged.

Approval of Sativex

Sativex won welcome approval from the medicines regulator as a treatment for spasticity in MS. Despite the fact that Sativex is nothing more than a tincture of herbal cannabis, the government now maintains that “cannabis has no medicinal benefits in herbal form”.  Sativex is approximately eight times the cost of herbal medicinal cannabis and many health authorities are refusing to fund it.

New UK Drug Strategy

The government is to announce a new drugs strategy in December.  There is expected to be a shift in emphasis towards healthcare interventions rather than criminal sanctions but no move away from prohibition.  The more liberal views expressed by both David Cameron and Nick Clegg over the last 10 years seem to have changed now they have come to power.

Joep, I hope this is helpful and informative for the hearing and for you and your colleagues.

Victor Hamilton

Massive Outcry For Legal Cannabis On Your Freedom Website

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Your Freedom

The coalition government’s Your Freedom website has, according to Nick Clegg, been “helpful and really exciting”.    It’s been going nearly a fortnight now and anyone who has tried to visit it will have their own experience of how popular and therefore slow and busy it is.

The single most remarkable thing about it though is the massive outcry for the legalisation of cannabis and an end to the war on drugs.  I don’t believe that people’s opinions have suddenly changed.  It’s just that they’ve been given a forum in which to express their views.  If the government doesn’t do something about this issue now they’re going to look pretty stupid.

Your Choice

Mind you, during Obama’s transition, after the election but before the inauguration, he introduced the idea on his change.gov website.  Legalisation of cannabis was the winning idea but it wasn’t adopted.

However, it is true that Obama has made big changes in favour of medical marijuana and that the war on drugs is clearly over.

The site itself is an object lesson in how not to set up an internet presence.   The chosen technology is absolutely useless. Seriously, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so bad.  HMG could have achieved a much better result with an off-the-shelf WordPress blog just like this one.  This is just another example of the now proven theory that anything the government does with IT will go wrong and cost a fortune.  Who are the idiots who were employed to set up this site?

It is completely overloaded and incapabable of handling the traffic it generates.

The software used for adding comments is the worst I have ever seen anywhere on the web.  When a commenter presses the “add comment” button there is no positive response.  Given how totally overloaded the site is it can take several minutes for the post to appear.  In the meantime, the commenter has pressed the button another four or five times before giving up.  Multiple copies of comments appear and the system slows down even more.

The moderation policy is bizarre to say the least.  It’s glaringly obvious that no thought at all was put into how to organise suggestions.  Consequently, there are literally hundreds of ideas that are almost identical.   Some of these are closed by the moderators and referred to another similar idea – but some aren’t.  They’ve learned nothing from the petitions section of the No 10 website.  It is just crazy!

There’s a strong suspicion of gerrymandering or tinkering with the posts, the votes and the comments.  It may just be the chaos of the site itself but it feels wrong.  There are dodgy things going on behind the scenes and protest is snuffed out.

Overall,  I’d rather we had the site as it is than not have it at all.  It’s just embarrassing though to see how bad it is.

It remains to be seen whether the government will take any notice.  If not though they’ve made a rod for their own back.