Advertisements

Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘drugs policy

If I Believed Corbyn Could Bring Down This Corrupt Conservative Government I’d Join The Labour Party. But Can He?

with 3 comments

I truly believe that tribalism is one of the most destructive forces in politics.  Sticking with same party just because you’ve always done so and perhaps because your parents did too, will not advance our society. We should cast our vote for a reason, not out of blind loyalty.

In the 42 years that I have been entitled to vote I have only ever voted Conservative (with one exception which I shall explain later) but as we now have the most corrupt government in my lifetime, I will vote for whichever candidate is most likely to get the Conservatives out of office.  I’ll go further in that I am now seriously considering joining the Labour Party.

Self-Serving and Corrupt

Our government is corrupt because it pursues self-serving policies for its tribal advantage and not on the basis of evidence. Astonishingly it has managed to destroy the opportunity that Brexit presented.  That the cabinet is still bickering two years after the referendum and has no agreed policy is conclusive proof that the party is reckless, irresponsible and unfit to govern.

The Conservative Party is in crisis and is dragging Britain down with it. It has moved so far away from its fundamental principles of individual liberty, individual responsibility, small government and free markets, that it has become unrecognisable.

Instead we have a party and a rump of aging opinion that has become an authoritarian, bureaucratic, self-serving, repressive enforcer of an austere nanny state. It is so out of touch with developing opinion and values that it is doomed.

My area of special interest, drugs policy, is a pillar of this crumbling mausoleum. What Theresa May and her allies have imposed on us for so long is now causing immense harm throughout our society and it is a microcosm of the wider problem with the party.

As an advocate for drugs policy reform and a Tory, I’ve been unpopular with the party I have voted for all my life and with the left which has tried to hijack this liberal cause as its own.

As I pass 60 I am delighted and rewarded to see so many joining my progressive cause. However, I am no more optimistic about the Labour Party on drugs policy.  This reform is being driven from the bottom up and will happen regardless of the buffoons who have resisted it for so long.  It is vital now that we overturn this tyrannical government which has failed on so many policies but in particular has destroyed the great opportunity of Brexit and left us in the worst possible position.

In future, I will vote for whichever candidate best assures me of overturning this government. The bigger question is whether I should now join the Labour Party. I will never be a socialist but I am pragmatic and that means I am precious close to becoming a Labour Party member and I will certainly be voting for Jeremy Corbyn.

We must demolish the old Conservative Party before we can rebuild a party of the centre right that is fit for the future.

Advertisements

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 27, 2018 at 1:39 pm

More Lies From The Home Office. A UK Government Department That Is Institutionally Dishonest.

with 3 comments

This deceit from the Home Office needs to be called out straightaway.  Andrew Gilligan, the Sunday Times journalist, did a great job of getting the Victoria Atkins cannabis scandal out into the mainstream and I thank him for that.  I gave him a great deal more evidence of Home Office maladministration than he used but he managed to bring out yet more brazen dishonesty in the process.

The Home Office said: “When she was appointed . . . the minister voluntarily recused herself from policy or decisions relating to cannabis, including licensing.”  This is absolute nonsense.  It is a lie of the sort that you might expect from a small child that doesn’t really understand what is dishonesty.

Ms Atkins was appointed a Home Office minster on 9th November 2017.  Since then she has spoken or provided written answers on aspects of drugs policy which either directly or indirectly concern cannabis.  In fact, for decades our government hasn’t had a drugs policy, it has its inane drug strategy which treats all drugs exactly the same.  The only difference as far as the Home Office is concerned are the penalties applied on conviction.

Ms Atkins has enaged on matters relating to drugs policy which either directly or indirectly concern cannabis on 23 occasions that I have been able to identify since she was appointed.

Organised Crime: Drugs. 23rd April 2018

Slavery: Children. 23rd April 2018

Organised Crime: Drugs. 16th April 2018

Drugs: West Midlands. 12th March 2018
Cannabis: 7th March 2018
Slavery: Vietnam. 20th February 2018
Human Trafficking: Vietnam. 6th February 2018
Drugs: Internet. 5th February 2018
Slavery: Children. 31st January 2018
Drugs: Spain. 31st January 2018
Drugs: Misuse. 29th January 2018
Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs. 29th January 2018
Organised Crime: Drugs. 24th January 2018
Drug Consumption Rooms. 17th January 2018
County Lines. 17th January 2018
Organised Crime: Drugs. 8th January 2018
Misuse of Drugs: Minsterial Group. 14th December 2017
Organised Crime. 8th December 2017
Drugs: Misuse. 4th December 2017
Slavery. 30th November 2017
Drugs: Misuse. 27th November 2017
Slavery: Children. 27th November 2017

 

 

 

 

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 14, 2018 at 9:07 pm

The Despicable and Diabolical Home Office. Our National Shame. Designed By Theresa May.

with 3 comments

No other British institution is responsible for causing more harm to its own citizens and responsibility for its course in recent years is entirely down to Theresa May.  When she first entered government in 2010 she established a culture that truly defines the ‘nasty party’.  Even, in her own words, deliberately creating a “hostile environment” for immigrants. The Home Office is hostile towards many sections of our society and it is completely misguided. Instead of supporting and assisting the British people, it is always more concerned about imposing and enforcing its diktat.

The Home Office has to tread a difficult path between protecting the rights of citizens and enforcing the laws that define British society.  For far too long, under both Conservative and Labour governments it has acted in a high handed and authoritarian manner.  Everything that Theresa May has done has been to increase this and, as the present Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, said in the House of Commons yesterday, it has been “too concerned with policy and strategy, and sometimes lost sight of the individual”. In fact, this is completely deliberate and is the central ethos that defines the Home Office’s work.

It is the horrendous treatment of the Windrush generation that seems to have finally brought this reality into public awareness. People who came here as children, mostly from the West Indies, accompanying their parents who had been persuaded to come here to the ‘mother country’ because after the war we faced a desperate labour shortage. These people re-built Britain.  They are as much stalwarts of our society as anyone whose ancestors were born here. It is impossible to overstate how dreadful and unforgivable the Home Office’s treatment of them has been.

There have already been calls for resignations over this scandal and in a just world it would be Theresa May to go first.  There must be also be dismissals of Home Office civil servants. Anyone who has been prepared to pursue this disgusting policy without objection is simply not fit to be in public service.  Their mind set and conscience is not of the standard we require.

But this is Theresa May’s responsibility. Her style of government is secretive, authoritarian, dismissive of public opinion and everything is played very close to her chest and as much behind closed doors as she can get away with. Her dictatorial, micro-managerial style at the Home Office is continuing in her role as PM and I believe it is unsustainable for the leader of our country. We need far more openness, interest in the people and a desire to inform rather than to conceal.  I consider that Theresa May is incapable of these qualities.

She is the would-be promoter of thought crime, intensive snooping, censorship, rigid and inflexible laws, suppression of dissent, severe punishments and, as she has already demonstrated with asylum seekers, locking people up without trial. Her record on immigration, policing, drugs policy, the Passport Office, asylum, the Snooper’s Charter, the Border Force, her general authoritarian, secretive attitudes – she does not represent British values at all, only her own self-serving philosophy.

Theresa May is not a true Tory. The most important, fundamental Conservative principles are individual liberty, individual responsibility and small government. Mrs May is in opposition to these values, she is an Authoritarian Bureaucrat. All her polices are about a bigger state, interfering more and more with our freedoms, micro-managing every aspect of our lives, just as she did at the Home Office. Yet every single one of her policies has been a failure.

Mrs May has turned the government of Britain into government by her Home Office culture.  Her successor, Amber Rudd is virtually a clone of herself and every Home Office minister seems to be cast from her mould: intolerant, careless of evidence and autocratic in style. It is government of and by the Authoritarian Bureaucrat and against the individual. Her position as PM is protected by the chaotic management of Brexit which she has overseen and a complete lack of any successor in the Conservative Party.  I doubt that the terrible abuse of the Windrush generation is enough to bring her down but as the local elections approach it will be one of many factors which are leading inevitably to the wholesale rejection of her and her party by the electorate.

The Views Of Dr Sarah Wollaston MP On Drugs Policy. A Worrying Case Requiring A Good Dose of Evidence.

with 3 comments

Dr Sarah Wollaston MP is chair of the cross party Health Select Committee. She was a practising GP but is now the most senior Westminster politician, not in government, who has expertise in health and medicine.

The views she expresses are extremely worrying because they betray a complete failure to take note of the evidence, particularly surprising because of her profession.

 

I responded by explaining legalising drugs doesn’t mean a free for all, it means the opposite. We have a free for all now because control has been abandoned to criminal gangs. Regulation must be in accordance with a drug’s potential for harm. It’s more urgent to legalise and regulate dangerous drugs. Keeping crack and heroin supply in the hands of criminals maximises harms through unknown strength and contamination as well as violence and street dealing. Clean, safe supplies should be available in conjunction with therapy at reducing doses. It’s simply absurd that cannabis is illegal and this idiotic policy supports crime and creates a £6 billion criminal market with massive consequential harms. It is shameful and national disgrace that our government continues with this idiocy.

There is very little health harm from cannabis. Healthcare records prove this. There are more health harms from peanuts. 99% of harms of cannabis are created by goverment policy. Ignorance, prejudice and cowardice are the defining characteristics of UK drugs policy.

Dr Wollaston suggests that drug consumers are responsible for the violence and criminal activity around the drugs trade.  I say this is utter nonsense. It is for the government to take responsibility!! That’s what you’re paid for. Take this market out of criminal hands and PROTECT people. It is disgusting to blame consumers for the harms of the drugs market which are caused by government. How dare you blame consumers for the harms of the criminal drugs market which irresponsible governments have created! UK drugs policy MAXIMISES all health and social harms. We are plagued by ignorant, stubborn, anti-evidence fools in government who are killing our children.

It is shocking that you and colleagues in government can be so trapped in ignorance and denial of the vast amount of evidence from across the world that legal regulation minimises all drug harms. If UK drugs policy was in the dock then it would get a whole life sentence.

This is an appalling abdication of responsibility by a senior politician. Dr Wollaston isn’t in government but she echoes the evil attitude of ministers who cause most harms around drugs by their idiotic policies. It is government that must take responsibility not consumers. Do your job!!

I have written to Dr Wollaston asking if she will meet me so that I may show her the evidence she is overlooking.

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 10, 2018 at 9:50 am

There Are Tyrants Abroad And Tyrants At Home.

with one comment

The story of Alfie Dingley is covered in today’s Sunday Times.  Alfie is desperately in need of a few drops of cannabis oil each day to quell his life threatening seizures.  That this medicine works for him and will save his life is proven beyond doubt under the supervision of a consultant neurologist in the Netherlands

Amber Rudd can issue a licence for cannabis oil for Alfie Dingley with a single stroke of her pen. The Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 specifically gives the Home Secretary this power.

The procrastination, excuses and dithering are outrageous. When I met a very senior ex-minister just recently his exact words were: “The settled view of ministers is that the campaign for medicinal cannabis is just an excuse to take cannabis”.

This is the sickening truth about those who run UK drugs policy and it should make all of us think very carefully about the nature of these individuals who sit in their ivory towers in Westminster.

They proclaim that there is “no medicinal value” in cannabis and deny any access at all while the UN reported six months ago that the UK produces, exports and stocks more legal medicinal cannabis than any other nation: ‘The UK Is The World’s Largest Producer And Exporter Of Legal Cannabis But Its Citizens Are Denied Any Access At All’

And “they” includes Victoria Adams MP, the current junior Home Office minister responsible for drugs policy whose husband, Paul Kenward, MD of British Sugar, grows 45 acres of medicinal cannabis under contract to GW Pharma: ‘Victoria Atkins MP, The UK Drugs Minister, Opposes Drugs Regulation While Her Husband Grows 45 Acres Of Cannabis Under Government Licence’

Aside from the cruelty and hypocrisy, there is no other word for this conduct from our government except corruption.

If it were Putin denying Alfie Dingley access to the medicine he needs we would call him a monster. There are tyrants abroad and tyrants at home.

Victoria Atkins MP, The UK Drugs Minister, Opposes Drugs Regulation While Her Husband Grows 45 Acres of Cannabis Under Government Licence.

The UK’s New Princess Of Prohibition: Dishonesty, Hypocrisy, Corruption And Cruelty Behind A Pretty Face.

There are many examples of wilful ignorance, blind prejudice and bare faced dishonesty on drugs policy from many former and current MPs.  There is no one though who plumbs the depths of deception and hypocrisy as the new drugs minister Victoria Atkins.

Her recent performance in the Westminster Hall debate on drug consumption rooms (DCR) was riddled with inaccuracies, distorted information and downright falsehood about the success of such facilities throughout the world.  She simply told brazen untruths in order to support her rejection of the clamour from other MPs to introduce DCRs because they are proven to save lives.  I can do no better than Transform in explaining her behaviour. Its press release sets out her lies in detail.  Ronnie Cowan MP even raised a point of order and then a Home Office question about her scandalous dishonesty but as usual the government just brushed aside any criticism.

Victoria Atkins: Barrister, MP, Home Office Minister, Dishonest And Corrupt To The Core

Ms Atkins is the daughter of Sir Robert Atkins, a former Conservative MP and MEP.  She studied law at Cambridge and was called to the bar at Middle Temple in 1998. She has practised as a barrister and was formerly listed as a member of Red Lion Chambers.  She has been appointed to the Attorney General’s Regulators Panel and the Serious Fraud Office’s List of specialist fraud prosecutors.  She claims to have been involved in the prosecution of major, international, drugs gangs and that this, somehow or another, qualifies her as an expert in drugs policy.

I relate her background because it is clear that she is a highly intelligent, clever and well informed woman.  This makes her dishonesty, hypocrisy and corruption all the more serious and completely inexcusable.

Ms Atkins has replaced Sarah Newton as drugs minister.  Ms Newton didn’t last long, perhaps because she couldn’t stand the ridicule that she was subjected to for trying to hold the line on the government’s ridiculous drugs policy.  When she tried to claim that alcohol isn’t really that damaging compared to illicit drugs, she had MPs either gasping in amazement or chuckling in amusement.  Ms Atkins was clearly spotted for the job because she is one of the few MPs still enthusiastic about prohibition.

Paul Kenward, Victoria Atkins’s husband, grows cannabis under government licence

But of course, it’s specifically on cannabis that I must call Ms Atkins to account. Aside from the usual, hysterical and evidence-free claims that so-called ‘skunk’ cannabis is causing an enormous increase in mental illness, which she trots out repeatedly, she rejects any idea of regulation in drugs policy as a means of reducing harm.  In the drugs policy debate on 18th July 2017 (before she was appointed drugs minister) she said:

“We are talking about gun-toting criminals, who think nothing of shooting each other and the people who carry their drugs for them. What on earth does my hon. Friend think their reaction will be to the idea of drugs being regulated? Does he really think that these awful people are suddenly going to become law-abiding citizens?”

and “I do not share the optimism of others about tackling the problem through regulation.”

Paul Kenward’s Cannabis Greenhouse

However, in what must be the most blatant hypocrisy ever from a government minister, Ms Atkins benefits directly from regulation of drugs.  She is married to Paul Kenward, managing director of British Sugar which is growing 45 acres of cannabis under licence in its mammoth Norfolk greenhouse.  Mr Kenward is producing high CBD cannabis for use in Epidiolex, GW Pharma’s cannabis extract epilepsy medicine.  Ms Atkins has tried to brush this off calling it “…a very different substance (from the) psychoactive version of cannabis.”   Of course, anyone with even the most basic knowledge of plant science will know this is nonsense.  The difference between different strains of cannabis is the same as the difference between different varieties of tomatoes.  Whether they’re Ailsa Craig or Alicante, they’re all tomatoes.

With this latest scandal the shameful truth about UK drugs policy and the corrupt nature of this Conservative government is highlighted once again.  It is difficult to believe this bare faced dishonesty can prevail in a country that was once held up as an example of honour and decency but as with so much that Theresa May has been responsible for since she entered government in 2010, we are disgraced, shamed and the electorate is treated with absolute contempt.

 

Let’s Temper Hope For Paul Flynn’s Medical Cannabis Bill With Some Reality.

with 3 comments

Paul Flynn MP introducing his 10 Minute Rule Bill

No one would like to see Paul Flynn’s ‘Elizabeth Brice’ bill  to re-legalise medical cannabis pass through Parliament more than me.  Yet it concerns me that expectations are being raised way beyond what is realistic. There is widespread misunderstanding about what the bill is and what are its chances of getting any further.

The Legalisation of Cannabis (Medicinal Purposes) Bill 2017–19 is a Private Member’s Bill. It was  introduced to Parliament on Tuesday 10 October 2017 under the Ten Minute Rule. This allows an MP to make his or her case for a new bill in a speech lasting up to ten minutes. An opposing speech may also be made before the House decides whether or not the bill should be introduced. If the MP is successful the bill is taken to have had its first reading.

Private Member’s Bills almost never become law.  Those that have the best of a very slim chance are proposed by one of about 20 MPs who win the right to put a bill forward a bill in the ballot that takes place at the beginning of each session.  This also decides the order of precedence for the 20 bills to be given parliamentary time.

A 10 Minute Rule Bill is even less likely to become law.  It is the only way other than the ballot that an MP can introduce a bill personally and if it passes its first reading, as Paul Flynn’s bill did, it is set down for second reading.  All Private Member’s Bills are debated on Fridays and before any 10 Minute Rule can be debated the bills put forward under the ballot will come first and even for those, mostly there will be no time available.  Remember also that on Fridays most MPs will not even be in Parliament, they will be back in their constituencies seeing people in their surgeries.

Sadly, the truth is that the second reading of Paul Flynn’s bill is unlikely even to take place.  Although it is set down for 23rd February 2018, there is virtually zero chance of any time being found for it.  It will simply wither away with no progress or further mention.

Even Parliament’s own website says of 10 Minute Rule Bills “an opportunity for Members to voice an opinion…rather than a serious attempt to get a Bill passed.”

I asked Paul Flynn himself what he thought were the chances of his bill making any progress and his response is illuminating. His exact words were: “I am expecting major changes to political party attitudes in the next 12 months following the developing trends in the United States.”

I think we can all agree on that.  In fact, I would say that there already have been major changes in the attitudes of most MPs.  The single biggest obstacle to any drug law reform is Theresa May. After all, what other leader anywhere in the world, apart from the murderous thug President Durterte of the Philippines, has recently called for a continuance of the war on drugs?

May and Duterte – two of a kind on drugs policy

I am confident that once Theresa May is gone, then whatever party is in power, we will see some progress. There is similar, hopeless optimism about Jeremy Corbyn.  Speaking at a Labour leadership debate in Glasgow, in  August 2016, he said: “I would decriminalise medicinal uses of cannabis.”  I think it was the same day or the day after that both John McDonnell and Diane Abbott contradicted him.   Nevertheless, there is a delusional strand of opinion that Corbyn would act on this immediately he was elected.  Dream on!  The Labour Party has the worst record of any UK political party on drugs policy.  For instance it was Margaret Thatcher who introduced needle exchange back in the 80s and yes, even Theresa May sanctioned the provision of foil to heroin users for smoking as an alternative to injecting.  The Labour Party has never done anything in support of progressive drugs policies that it hasn’t reversed under pressure from the tabloid press.

Progress on access to medical cannabis is coming irrespective of which party is in power.  In the meantime, the best that any of us can do is keep up pressure on our personal MPs and in our local media and through our doctors.  Probably the biggest breakthrough this year on medical cannabis will be the publication of guidelines by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP).  Organised by CLEAR and authored by our Scientific and Medical Advisor, Professor Mike Barnes, this shows MPs that however irresponsible and pig-headed government ministers may be, doctors have a responsibility to their patients, an ethical duty that transcends the grubby and corrupt politics that ministers subscribe to.

Sadly then, 23rd February and the second reading of Paul Flynn’s bill will be a non-event. For the rest of 2018 look out for the RCGP guidelines and drop your MP a line when they come out asking for his or her view.  Also, in July look out for Canada’s legalisation of cannabis for all adults.  Again, another opportunity to bring the subject up with your MP.  The latest, standard, Home Office approved reply from MPs reads as follows:

“Cannabis in its raw form is not recognised as having any medicinal purposes. The licensing regime for medicines is administered by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which issues licences for medicines in the UK which have been tested for their safety, quality and efficacy. 
 
A medicine derived from the cannabis plant, Sativex, has already been licenced for use in the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis (MS). The MHRA is open to considering other licence applications for medicines containing cannabinoids should such products be developed.
 
In 2014, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published its clinical guideline on the management of MS that does not recommend Sativex as a cost effective use of NHS resources. In the absence of positive guidance from NICE, it is for commissioners to make decisions on whether to fund this treatment based on an assessment of the available evidence.
 
I do appreciate that there are people with chronic pain and debilitating illnesses who seek to alleviate their symptoms by using cannabis.  Although such use is illicit, the Sentencing Council’s guidelines on drug offences identify such circumstances as a potential mitigating factor.
 
The Government has no plans to legalise the recreational use of cannabis. The official advice from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs cites medical and scientific research showing that cannabis use has a number of adverse acute and chronic health effects, especially for people with mental health problems, and continues to present a significant public health issue.”

If you receive this response, first of all, don’t bother writing back, it will get you nowhere.  If you really want to do your bit then make an appointment to see your MP at his/her surgery.  Then give him/her this simple fact that totally devastates the Home Office and MHRA position:

In every jurisdiction throughout the world where medicinal cannabis has been legally regulated, it is through a special system outside pharmaceutical medicines regulation.

This is the government’s very last excuse for denying access to medicinal cannabis. The MHRA process is incapable of dealing with a medicine that contains hundreds of molecules.  It is designed by the pharmaceutical industry for regulating single molecule medicines, usually synthesised in a lab, which have the potential to be highly toxic. Every other government that has recognised the enormous benefit that medicinal cannabis offers has come to the same conclusion: cannabis is a special case.  It is far more complex but much, much safer than pharmaceutical products.