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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘Channel 4

Whose Money Is UCL Wasting On Pointless Cannabis Research?

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white-female-inhaling-marijuana-pipe_4800The Times reports “Stone me: cannabis users don’t like hard work”

The Independent says “Getting high on cannabis makes you less likely to work hard for money, study says”

The mendacious Daily Mail claims: “How just one cannabis joint harms your will to work: Fears long-term drug use could harm motivation even when not high”

Utterly pointless research. Such results can be determined by common sense and experience.

UCL has a habit of frittering money away on pointless research into cannabis.

First of all we had the reckless overdosing  of Jon Snow for the Channel 4 Drugs Live programme, equivalent to asking a teetotaller to drink a bottle of scotch in 10 minutes – set up purely for sensationalism and tabloid headlines. Results?  Cannabis was shown to be very safe for 95% of people – as if we didn’t know that already.

Currently Prof Val Curran is studying whether cannabis can be used to treat cannabis dependency.  Yes, seriously, Sativex, the cannabis oil mouthspray, is being trialled to see if it can help people give up smoking cannabis!!  Not that cannabis dependency is anything like a serious problem anyway.  Fewer regular users of cannabis become dependent on it than regular users of coffee become dependent on caffeine.  Incredibly the University of Sydney is also conducting an identical trial.

Now we have this absurd study on motivation.  Why do people use cannabis?  To relax of course, so hardly surprising they become less motivated, that is the point! And the study showed that motivation returns to normal levels after smoking!  You really couldn’t make it up that so-called scientists waste their time on this sort of nonsense.

What we need is some constructive research on the therapeutic benefits of cannabis. In the 34 US states that permit medicinal use, expenditure on dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical painkillers has plummeted by hundreds of millions of dollars.

Now that would be something sensible to look into.  But maybe it doesn’t suit the agenda of whoever provides UCL with money to conduct its frivolous and pointless studies?

Listen to me interviewed on Talk Radio about this latest study.

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Written by Peter Reynolds

September 2, 2016 at 10:07 am

LibDems: Correct On Cannabis Policy, Wrong On Scaremongering.

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The Liberal Democrats are doing great work on advancing the cause of cannabis law reform.  Their policy proposals are sensible and their arguments for change are irrefutable but they are wrong to buy into and sustain the myths and scaremongering that have dominated the cannabis debate for so long.

Cannabis does not cause psychosis.  Stronger strains do not present serious health risks.  Memory loss is not a significant issue and no issue at all in comparison to the health harms of alcohol or tobacco. Cannabis cannot be described as dangerous unless you also apply that word to hay fever remedies, over-the-counter painkillers  and energy drinks.  There is not and never has been any scientific evidence to support these myths.

Of course, we must be sensitive to people’s fears and concerns.  For more than 50 years the British people have been fed a stream of lies and exaggeration by the tabloid media.  The Home Office, right up to today, is engaged in a systematic and deliberate policy to mislead and misinform on cannabis.  Shocking though that fact is, this policy transcends successive governments and continues irrespective of ministers’ views.  It clearly emanates from dishonest and corrupt officials who are determined to pursue their own agenda, irrespective of truth or concern for the massive harms and cost of cannabis prohibition.

lamb 10 min stillNorman Lamb, the Liberal Democrat MP and health spokesperson, who is leading the party’s campaign, is a brave, sincere and conscientious politician. One of the few in Westminster that matches up to the high standards of probity and wisdom that we should be able to expect from all MPs.  Similarly, Nick Clegg, former leader, and Tim Farron, current leader, have spoken out strongly on the need to reform the law. Now is the time for them also to start telling the truth about cannabis, about how its dangers have been vastly exaggerated, how for adults, in moderation, it can actually be very beneficial and far preferable as a choice of relaxant to alcohol. Indeed, if people substituted cannabis for some of their alcohol consumption, it would be a public health revolution.  It would save the NHS billions and transform the health of our society.

The cannabis campaign will not succeed unless we tell the truth. We cannot compromise facts and evidence for the illusory belief that buying into the scare stories will somehow advance the cause.  We need to push back at the scaremongering, acknowledge there are risks but that they are extremely small.  They really only apply to use by children or to behaviour that is analogous to a ‘white cider drinker’.  Consume anything to excess, regularly, without a break, without regard to other aspects of life and it will cause harm but even then, cannabis will cause less harm than any other substance.

As for children, one of the main aims of reform must be to minimise underage use.  Even then, the scare story that cannabis is causing significant mental health problems amongst young people is untrue.  The Department of Health’s own data shows that in the last five years, there has been an average of just 28 episodes per year of care for ‘cannabis psychosis’ in young people.  28 individual tragedies but an insignificant problem in public health terms.

The misuse of the term ‘skunk’ is also unhelpful. The Channel 4 ‘Drugs Live’ debacle last year was  based on reckless, irresponsible overdosing of inexperienced users by a scientist who should know better.  All the time calling the cannabis was called ‘skunk’ when it is a matter of fact that it was silver haze as grown by Bedrocan, the Netherlands’ government producer of medicinal cannabis. Skunk is actually the name of one particular cannabis strain and not an especially strong one.  Cannabis is available in Britain that is twice, sometimes three times as potent as skunk but the word has been selected and promoted by the tabloid press because of its obvious, sensationalist, negative connotations.

Thank you to the Liberal Democrats for the fantastic work they are doing.  All we need now is a little adjustment and focus on truth rather than scare stories.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 23, 2016 at 6:37 pm

Channel 4 Drugs Live. How To Cause Confusion About Cannabis.

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Hash

Hash

What is this ‘hash’ that looks like weed and this ‘skunk’ that isn’t cannabis?

Channel 4’s ‘Drugs Live:Cannabis On Trial‘ played fast and loose with facts, terminology and ethical considerations.

Cannabis

Cannabis

To be fair, I greatly enjoyed the programme (well I would wouldn’t I) and there was some fascinating science. Particularly about how the brain responds to music when you’re high and about how CBD protects the ‘salience network’, the key to motivation.  This gives weight to the theory of an ‘amotivational syndrome’.

In a week’s time though, all that most of the public will remember is Jon Snow saying that using ‘skunk’ was more terrifying than being in a war zone and his distorted reporting of the recent study by which he implied that 25% of people who use ‘skunk’ will become psychotic.

So I am left with very mixed feelings.  The pre-publicity was a disgrace: inaccurate, misleading, unethical  – words I have already published and I stand by them.

The brazen misuse of the terms ‘skunk’ and ‘hash’ is an appalling error of judgement by Channel 4, Renegade Pictures and yes, sadly, by two scientists for whom I have the greatest  of respect: Professors Val Curran and David Nutt.

Why would you choose to use the same word as the gutter press chooses to demonise cannabis? ‘Skunk’ is a scary word and what it really means is a sativa dominant strain with a modest THC content of 8% and only traces of CBD.

As for hash, it also has a specific meaning: the compressed resin, derived from the plant by sieving or by hand rubbing.  By definition a more concentrated form of cannabis, yet the programme claimed exactly the opposite.

A far better, more accurate, more scientific and informative shorthand would have been to describe the cannabis as low CBD, high CBD and placebo.

Surely, whether we agree or disagree with their evidence, we are entitled to expect precision and accuracy from scientists?

The fundamental problem with this programme was that there were no cannabis experts present, only detached academics and scientists or cannabis users who were hardly well informed or articulate.  I did of course volunteer but for some reason the producers saw fit to exclude anyone from the cannabis campaign or anyone who has both in depth knowledge and real experience.

Unfortunately, this programme will go the same way as all those other earnest endeavours, ‘The Union’, ‘The Culture High’, ‘In Pot We Trust’, etc – all very enjoyable, self-affirming and satisfying but all preaching to the choir. I’ll be interested to see what the viewing figures were for last night’s programme.

Professor David Nutt and his Harm Index.

Professor David Nutt and his Harm Index.

The best bit was David Nutt’s final conclusion. On his scale of harms, even low CBD cannabis (the demon ‘SKUNK’)  is less harmful than alcohol, heroin, crack, meth, cocaine, tobacco and speed.  After the study he concludes that high CBD cannabis is the least harmful drug of all.

Channel 4. ‘Drugs Live:Cannabis’, Drug War Propaganda Dressed Up As Science.

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Fight back against Channel 4’s war on cannabis.

Drug Warrior Jon Snow and Quack 'Dr' Christian Jessen

Drug Warrior Jon Snow and Quack ‘Dr’ Christian Jessen

Drugs Live:Cannabis‘ is a massive fraud perpetrated on the British people by a broadcaster that places cheap and dishonest scaremongering above its duty for truth and balance.

I expect the programme itself to be balanced and probably reach the correct conclusion on the evidence but the pre-publicity has been misleading and irresponsible.  Most people reached by the pre-publicity won’t watch the programme.

Make a complaint to Channel 4 Here.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 3, 2015 at 6:11 pm

Channel 4 Cannabis Programme. Irresponsible, Unethical, Misleading.

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Jon Snow Cannabis experiment sensationalismThe pre-publicity for next week’s programme ‘Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial’ has been nothing but a repeat of 1930s ‘Reefer Madness’. See ‘Jon Snow gets the inside dope on skunk’ for his commentary and a video.

It is tragic that respected journalists, Jon Snow and Matthew Paris, both of whom have been intelligent opponents of the disastrous drugs war, have been duped and manipulated into being used as sensationalist propaganda by an unscrupulous production company, Renegade Pictures.  After Channel 4’s prejudicial and hate-mongering programme, Benefits Street, one would have hoped that its editors would have learned lessons and resolved to take a more responsible approach.

David Abraham, CEO, Channel 4

David Abraham, CEO, Channel 4

I have been in correspondence with Renegade Pictures, with UCL, which is responsible for ethical approval of the study and with Jon Snow.  Today I have written to the Chief Executive of Channel 4.

David Abraham
Chief Executive
Channel 4
124, Horseferry Road
London
SW1P 2TX

Dear Mr Abraham,

Drugs Live: Cannabis on Trial. Due for broadcast 3rd March 2015

There are compelling reasons why you should halt the broadcast of this programme in its present form. It is grossly irresponsible, deeply unethical and highly misleading.

I write as the elected leader of more than 320,000 supporters of cannabis law reform. CLEAR represents more people than all other UK drugs policy groups combined. I have made repeated attempts to engage with the producers of this programme, Renegade Pictures, but apart from one acknowledgement my correspondence has been ignored. This is an open letter which will be published on the CLEAR website.

A comprehensive complaint will be made to OFCOM if the programme is broadcast in its present form and I am already in touch with UCL on the question of ethics. At this stage I want to draw to your attention to conclusive evidence of the unethical basis of this programme.

The study being conducted by Professors Curran and Nutt is important science. However, it is not original and the outcome is a foregone conclusion. It is well established in other research and widely understood that CBD moderates the psychoactive effects of THC.

The cannabis used in the programme is not ‘skunk’ as claimed, it is a ‘haze’ variety produced by Bedrocan BV, the Netherlands government official producer of medicinal cannabis. It is prescribed as medicine by doctors in Holland, Belgium, Italy, Germany and Canada.

I would refer you to the Netherlands Office for Medicinal Cannabis, which regulates Bedrocan products. It publishes guidelines for medical professionals which can be seen here: BEDROCAN GUIDELINES

On using a vapouriser these state:

“Inhale a few times until the desired effect is reached or until psychological side-effects occur. Wait 5-15 minutes after the first inhalation and wait between inhalations.”

If you now observe the ludicrous overdose that Jon Snow and Matthew Paris were subjected to, you will understand how gravely irresponsible is the conduct of the programme’s producers.

Aside from the impact on the individuals concerned, this programme will present a highly misleading and false impression of the use of cannabis which millions of British people participate in every day.

I urge you to take prompt action and stop the broadcast of this programme in its present form.

Kind regards,

yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds

 

Cameron On Cannabis Part 5

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You can see the previous instalment here: Cameron On Cannabis Part 4.

I am still waiting for a further reply from Mr Cameron.

In the meantime, the subject of cannabis cropped up again on “Jamie’s Dream School” a Channel 4 programme in which a group of young people are given a second chance at education.  Mr Cameron was challenged by the inspirational, 17 year old Henry Gatehouse, who proposed legalisation and a £1 per gram cannabis tax.

Oh Yes?

Mr Cameron responded:

“We concluded it would be wrong to make cannabis legal for two, I think, quite good reasons.  One is, there is a link between that and mental health issues so it’s not harmless.  And I think the second thing is that if you legalise drugs you will make them even more prevalent than they are.  So I don’t think legalising is a good idea.”

Another inaccurate and misleading statement from Mr Cameron.  This time though I think we should be even more concerned.  Successive governments have stated that their main concern about drugs policy is children and young people and that they must be careful to “send the right messages”.

Nobody's Fool

In fact, the only message that governments have successfully delivered to young people again and again is that they never tell the truth about drugs.  While the Home Office throws millions every year at the Talk To Frank campaign,  the only thing it achieves is for ministers to pat themselves on the back and for the self-serving drug support industry to soak up more public money.  Frank is held in complete contempt by young people.  The misinformation and untruths told about, in particular,  cannabis, ecstasy and mephedrone are a scandal and a grave disservice to young people.

Of course, for children and young people, the use of any psychoactive substance in a still-developing brain has the potential for harm.   Cannabis should only be used by adults.  Cameron is distorting the truth though.  The links between cannabis and mental health are trivial compared to those with alcohol, cigarettes or even energy drinks.  It is dishonest and irresponsible to give such a misleading answer to a young man who has clearly done his research and knows the truth.

Cameron’s second reason though has no basis in fact at all.  All the evidence is that where a system of regulation of drugs is introduced, use goes down.  This is clearly proven in Holland, Portugal and the USA.  Cameron’s assertion is entirely false and, I regret to say, he must know that it is.  In Britain, which now has one of the most repressive drug policies in the world, young people’s consumption of drugs is one of the highest anywhere.

Once again, Cameron reveals the dishonesty at the heart of his government’s drugs policy.  This time though he is misleading and misinforming our young people.  What greater mistake can he make?

Go Georgey Boy, Go!

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Three Men In A Boat

After all the doubters and the negative press that young Georgey Osborne was getting this morning, give him a cheer for his performance on Channel 4 tonight!

Even me, even your most rabid Tory supporter, I’ve always thought he was a bit of a public schoolboy twerp. I mean, come on, can you take him seriously?  Well I did tonight!

George was superb.  Vince’s policies are better, of course.  Alistair was – boring.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 29, 2010 at 10:10 pm