Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘drugs policy

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

Five Reasons Why Boris Johnson Should Legalise Cannabis Now

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1. Popularity

Polls confirm that a majority of British voters support reform of our cannabis laws. More than three-quarters are strongly supportive of medicinal cannabis.  There has been a sea change in attitude, also strongly accelerated by the rise of the CBD market, itself born entirely out of small, entrepreneurial British businesses. Boris could catch this wave, delight more than half of the electorate immediately with a bold, radical move and dispel much of the ‘nasty party’, authoritarian mood that has come out of the Covid crisis. Properly explained, a new policy can also deal with the concerns that still remain about cannabis. It should be presented as a solution to the four further reasons set out below and because, in 2020 no one wants to see their son, daughter, mother or father turned into a criminal just for cannabis.  A large majority of electors support this.

2. Mental health

For many years, politicians have been advocating that mental health should be treated with the same priority as physical health. The Conservative Party has promised it repeatedly over the past decade. For those that fear cannabis contributes to young people’s problems, legal regulation is, without doubt, the solution. Age limits and licensed rather than criminal distribution channels will minimuse underage use. Proper labelling and limits on THC content of licensed cannabis will protect against the negative effects of so-called ‘skunk’.  For the millions that we know already use cannabis actually to help with their mental health, particularly during lockdown, it will enable access to new, safely controlled and designed products with ideal ratios of CBD and other ingredients. These will be far preferable to the massive bill both in NHS expenditure and side effects that we currently pay for tranquilisers, anti-depressants, sleeping and anxiety medicines.

3. Tax revenue

The potential for an enormous net gain to the British economy, turning what is now only a drain on resources into a new revenue stream is huge. Serious, erudite work has been completed by a number of well-respected institutions. The most pessimistic estimate a net gain of about £1 billion. The most optimistic projections are 10 times as much. Looking to actual experience around the world, most likely is somewhere in the middle, perhaps around the £6.7 billion that the Independent Drug Monitoring Unit calculated in its 2011 study. As we emerge from the Covid crisis into a deep recession, cutting our costs and increasing our income are going to be vital and cannabis isn’t going away. We have to choose whether to waste money on it or make money from it. Cannabis legalisation won’t just cover its own costs but provide billions more that can be added to the public expenditure budget – and we are going to need every penny.

4. Jobs

About 250,000 people work in the legal cannabis industry in the USA and numbers are expected to grow significantly as legalisation expands. That’s equivalent to creating about 50,000 new jobs in the UK. A legally regulated cannabis industry would create huge investment in sophisticated cultivation and production facilities, distribution and retail channels. The CBD industry has already created hundreds of new businesses and thousands of new jobs in the way that only new industries can. We can already see that the push back from big business and big pharma that have missed out on this boom is about destroying jobs and stifling innovation. The path that the EU and the FSA are trying to force the CBD industry down is really about protectionism for the established pharmaceutical and supplement industries.  We are going to need new markets, new thinking and fresh ideas to create new jobs.

5. Crime and violence

The long held ‘gateway’ myth that consuming cannabis ‘leads on to harder drugs’ has been disproven over and over again by science. It’s still strangely prevalent amongst the poorly informed but even the UK government’s expert advisors formally rejected it in 2008. The laws against cannabis and the £6 billion criminal market that they have created is the gateway to deliquency, knife crime, county lines exploitation and hard drugs. The police and our political leaders have found themselves on the same side as organised crime, for they share the desire to keep cannabis banned. The public demand is not going away and a responsible government would act to regulate the market, to make it safer and to protect consumers. The criminal cannabis market is how young people get groomed and enticed into county lines and it’s what drives knife crime. It drives and funds much more serious crime. It is undermining our society. It really is one of the most idiotic, irrational and counterproductive of all government policies.  A legally regulated market will pull the rug from under this nightmare scenario.  As Canada has proved, within two years, around 50% of the market has already moved to legal channels and the damage caused by nearly a century of prohibition is gradually being undone.

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 3, 2020 at 4:30 pm

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

Facebook Moderation and Censorship AKA ‘Community Standards’ Going Haywire

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It may be automated systems going wrong or it may be another misguided crackdown on legitimate

posts but as usual with Facebook it’s impossible to get any answers, explanation or guidance.

The CLEAR team has run a Facebook page now for 10 years.  According to Facebook data it’s the second most ‘liked’ page on cannabis and drugs policy and its ‘engagement’ is usually in the top three of all similar pages worldwide.

We’ve experienced everything crazy that Facebook has thrown us over those 10 years.  But in the past few weeks the inexplicable and quite ridiculous censorship has reached new levels.

Over the years, our page has been hijacked three or four times by breaches in Facebook’s (not CLEAR’s) security. On each occasion it has taken up to a month to regain control which has involved endless unanswered messages and emails.  Most recently Facebook has required notarised statements and evidence to restore control to our admins even though they have 10 years history on record.  On one occasion, whilst the page was out of our control, Facebook took no notice at all of a stream of hardcore porn videos that were posted day after day.

Facebook’s attitude to cannabis and drugs policy is wildly inconsistent. It goes through periods of not taking any notice at all to what’s happening at present, which is where even the most innocuous mentions get sanctioned.  Even links to academic, scientific and medical papers or research get removed on the basis that they are ‘promoting drug use’ or even more absurd, ‘selling drugs’.

Today, it has removed one post in which Lisa Quarrell has been told that the NHS will not pay for her son’s medicinal cannabis because she had previously ‘gone private’ to obtain it and it would be an ‘improper use of NHS funds’.  It has also removed a post about a designer who has been ordered to pay Starbucks $500,000 because he designed a bong that looks like a Starbucks coffee cup.

Peter Reynolds was recently blocked from posting, first for three days and then for seven days for posting a meme inviting subscriptions to our email newsletter, the CLEAR Daily News.  This, apparently, is ‘selling drugs’.  We’ve been posting exactly the same meme regularly for over two years with no problem at all.

What’s really worrying is that two long online ‘chats’ with Facebook concierge support (available to advertisers) achieved nothing except for mindless repetition that the post ‘goes against community standards’.  These are real people constrained to the role and inteligence of a bot, unable to think or exercise any discretion.

Meanwhile the endless, lunatic, conspiracy theories on vaccines, Bill Gates, 5G, coronavirus, etc. fill up the newsfeed.  Reports indicate that child porn,  fraudulent scams, misuse of celebrities’ images, terrorist ideology and violence are still not under control.

Facebook is an essential tool for any business, NGO or campaign.  You simply have to be on it. It’s a monopoly that is out of control.  In reality it seems to have more power over governments and regulators than they have over it. It needs to be broken up. The fact that it is also Instagram and WhatsApp is a ridiculous state of affairs.  How have Zuckerberg and his bots been able to get away with this?  Their ‘community standards’ or at least the enforcement are clearly an abuse of US constitutional rights and that is the only jurisdiction of which they take any notice.

CLEAR has put many tens of thousands of pounds into Facebook advertising.  Pages now have to pay if they want to reach their followers.  Before the algorithms changed all our posts would reach thousands of people, sometimes hundreds of thousands. In the last couple of years in many instances that has gone down to single figures. All the time, money and expertise we have invested in Facebook is being wasted.  We have been cheated out of it by this out-of-control, arrogant monolith.  As of this week our executive committee has stopped all Facebook advertising for good. It’ll make no difference to Facebook of course, until thousands of others do the same thing but we are not going to give them any more of our members’ money.

We will continue to do our best to bring our followers the news in the face of this draconian censorship.  All our posts are also on Twitter which is in many ways (not always!) a better and more adult forum but, of course, it’s very unfocused and inflexible.  The minute that there is a viable alternative to Facebook, CLEAR will be off.  It’s a phenomenon that has run its course. We need more intelligently managed and properly regulated online media to communicate through.

Written by Peter Reynolds

May 9, 2020 at 2:11 pm

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

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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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.