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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘endocannabinoid system

Cannabis Advocates Really Need To Stop Accusing Doctors of Being Bribed By Pharmaceutical Companies.

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There may well be some doctors who are corrupt and there are still, despite much improvement, serious questions over the relationship between pharma companies and doctors but the idea that every member of the Faculty of Pain Medicine who signed that letter to the Times is taking bribes is ridiculous.

The real reason is ignorance and that’s not an attack on doctors, it’s a reason.  They have been subject to the same relentless torrent of reefer madness propaganda from government and media as the rest of society.  They have been prevented even from learning about the endocannabinoid system by the authoritarian policy of prohibition and any doctor in the UK who has any experience of cannabis as medicine will have been in breach of professional ethics as well as the law.

CLEAR has been working with some of the very few enlightened doctors since way before the cause of cannabis as medicine became fashionable.  Working with members, their MPs and doctors, we have organised lobbying of ministers and MPs over more than the past 10 years. In several instances we had doctors, both GPs and consultants, contact the Home Office to enquire about obtaining a licence for a specific patient.  In at least three instances these doctors were then contacted by Home Office officials who warned them off using threats and intimidation.  Shocking but completely true.

It is and it always has been government – stupid, prejudiced, bigoted and self-opinionated politicians – who have prevented access to cannabis, even in the face of overwhelming evidence.  This means that there has been no education at all and doctors are as poorly informed as everyone else. They’re also, and understandably, worried, even scared.  They don’t understand cannabis, many will not even have heard of the endocannabinoid system and they are concerned about being sued, professionally disgraced, losing their job and now of being swamped by patients demanding cannabis about which they know nothing.

Of course, it was thoroughly stupid to assert in the letter that “the evidence suggests that the prescribing of cannabis (containing the psychoactive and addictive tetrahydrocannabinol component) will provide little or no long-term benefit in improving pain and may be associated with significant long-term adverse cognitive and mental-health detriment.”

There is no reasonable interpretation of the evidence that supports this. THC can be addictive in a very modest sense but the withdrawal symptoms and negative effects are trivial compared to those from opioids which doctors prescribe readily and frequently.  There is excellent evidence from many sources that cannabis containing THC and CBD benefits pain and while there may be some cognitive and mental health effects, to suggest they are significant or even come remotely close to those from opioids is false and in opposition to the evidence.

I repeat, doctors aren’t saying this because they are bribed by pharmaceutical companies, it’s because they have no idea what they are talking about.

The urgent requirement now is medical education.  It is amazing how radical the new regulations are and many people still don’t seem to realise how far the government has gone.  They go much further than we at CLEAR had even dared to dream and the definition of cannabis-derived medicinal product (CDMP) is very broad.  When we were consulted on it by the Department of Health and MHRA we never thought they would accept all our recommendations.  They enable the prescription of every form of cannabis, including flower, oil and concentrate, provided they meet quality standards.

So the problem with the law is gone. Literally, it is all over. It is absolute and total victory. Now two big problems remain. Education is the first but this is being addressed.  NICE has acted commendably fast to start recruiting a panel to advise on prescribing guidelines and Professor Mike Barnes, CLEAR’s scientific and medical advisor has already developed a series of introductory online training modules. Early in November his Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society launches and this will be an important forum for the future.

The second big problem is supply.  Where are the CDMPs to come from?  Sativex falls into the definition and this was GW Pharma’s big opportunity to act responsibly and imaginatively.  The possibility still exists that it will substantially reduce the absurd, rip-off price that it has been charging for Sativex since 2010.  If it had the imagination it could very easily turn over some of its production to unlicensed CDMPs for which there is now a ready market. I fear that it is wedded to licensed products only, hugely expensive and, in my judgement, unnecessary clinical trials and very high prices for its end products.  If so, then I will be selling my shares.  I admire the company for its courage, innovation and high standards but if it does not seize this opportunity then I believe it is failing in its duty to shareholders and also to Britain, which let’s remember has gifted it a privileged and unique opportunity in the world.  Fail now to provide for the needs of UK patients and that amounts to betrayal.

So for now the only possible sources of supply that meet the definition will be Bedrocan in the Netherlands and some of the Canadian licensed producers. US companies cannot export.  Neither can the Israeli companies and they would also face a thoroughly deserved boycott of their products even if Netanyahu was to issue export licences.  Bedrocan can barely meet demand from its existing customers and there is talk of it having difficulties with a ceiling on its export licenses. Only some Canadian producers meet the required GMP quality standards and they too are facing shortages as they also supply the recently legalised recreational market which is seriously short of product.

So the Home Office has to act and start issuing domestic production licences and it has to do so immediately.  Whether it will, remains to be seen.  Its drugs licensing department is a shambles, staffed by officials who do not even understand the law they are supposed to administrate, who regularly give different, contradictory answers on different days and exceed their lawful authority as a matter of course.  If there is a ‘hostile environment’ for immigration in the Home Office, for drugs licensing and cannabis production it has been hostile but also aggressive, paranoid and stupid ever since the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.

The urgent need is for prospective British cannabis producers to mobilise their MPs and for immediate pressure to be brought on the Home Office at the highest level.  Sajid Javid has shown he can act decisively.  Expanding domestic cannabis production is the inevitable next step in what he has already achieved.  He must act now.

So the future in the UK for those who need cannabis as medicine is brighter than could ever have been imagined.  The next steps are challenging but nowhere near as difficult as the campaign to reform the law that CLEAR has fought for nearly 20 years.  Don’t blame doctors, continue to blame the government and hold their feet to the fire until they act on medical education and cannabis production as they must.

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British Doctors Don’t Understand Cannabinoid Medicine. They’ve Been Denied Education In The Basic Science.

with 2 comments

Today’s letter to the Times from a group of pain medicine consultants (reproduced below) is is an astonishing display of evidence-free ignorance from a profession that needs to challenge its own prejudice.

To compare the addiction potential of cannabis with opioids is ridiculous and demonstrates just how detached from the science and evidence are those making this claim.

Doctors will understandably feel challenged by a medicine that upturns many of their conventional habits. They have been prevented from understanding the science of cannabis as medicine by prohibition policy. Most doctors have received no education at all about the endocannabinoid system which we now know is the largest neurotransmitter network in the body and is the mechanism by which cannabis exerts its therapeutic effects.

Understanding cannabis as a medicine requires a new attitude and mindset which looks at the patient’s overall health and physiological stability or homeostasis. Modulating the endocannabinoid system with cannabis can effect many factors which contribute to illness including pain, mood, memory and perception. It’s actually a much more complex model rather than the simplistic, reductionist theories that modern medicine is based on.

‘Holistic’ is a fashionable but much misused word that is truly expressed in cannabinoid medicine. There are a few progressive doctors in the UK, including some pain consultants, who through experience and self-education have learned how this new approach to medicine works.

Outside the UK, in jurisdictions which have taken a more enlightened approach, cannabinoid medicine is much better understood by many more doctors. The profession in UK needs to open its mind and its doors to education and training from overseas. Then they will start to understand this much more rounded and broadly-based approach which can lead to a long-term, preventative approach with fewer side effects and better outcomes for nearly all patients.

 

Letter to The Times, 26th October 2018

CANNABIS PAIN RELIEF

Sir, We, as a group of pain medicine consultants, are concerned that the Home Office and NHS England propose to allow specialist doctors to prescribe cannabis for chronic pain from next month. We know only too well the unmet burden of chronic pain and that pain is cited by our patients as a frequent reason to take cannabis.

While there are clear limitations in studying the effects of past illicit cannabis use, caution is required, as the evidence suggests that the prescribing of cannabis (containing the psychoactive and addictive tetrahydrocannabinol component) will provide little or no long-term benefit in improving pain and may be associated with significant long-term adverse cognitive and mental-health detriment.

We are also concerned that it will be difficult to deny cannabis prescriptions to patients in pain who might be coerced into diverting cannabis into the community where it will remain illegal and have street value.

We have suffered an opioid crisis and foresee history about to repeat itself. Ironically, the likely cost of medical cannabis will be greater than the saving achieved by the inexplicable decision of NHS England to restrict the use of the clinically effective 5 per cent lidocaine plasters.

We support the change in the law to encourage cannabis research. However, we are concerned that in the interests of political expediency, this mandate to allow prescribing of cannabis for pain relief is premature. That cannabis is an effective treatment for chronic pain is not supported by the evidence and may be associated with significant harm.

Dr Rajesh Munglani, consultant in pain medicine London; Dr Andrew Baranowski, consultant in pain medicine, University College London Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Stephen Ward, consultant in pain medicine Brighton and Sussex Hospital Trust; Dr Arun Bhaskar, consultant in pain medicine Imperial College NHS Trust; Dr Cathy Price, consultant in pain medicine St Mary’s Portsmouth Solent NHS Trust; Dr Jonathan Bannister, consultant in pain medicine NHS Tayside Scotland; Dr Ilan Lieberman, consultant in pain medicine University Hospital of South Manchester; Dr Dalvina E Hanu-Cernat, consultant in pain medicine Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham; Dr Pravin Dandegaonkar, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine; Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Sarang Puranik, consultant in pain management and anaesthesia Kingston Hospital, Surrey; Dr Mike W Platt, consultant in pain medicine Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust; Dr Jon Valentine, consultant in pain medicine Norwich; Dr Teodor Goroszeniuk, consultant in pain medicine, London W1, UK; Dr Michael Coupe consultant in anaesthesia, pain medicine and intensive care Royal United Hospitals NHS FT; Dr Hadi Bedran, consultant in pain medicine St Georges University Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Karen H Simpson, consultant in pain medicine Leeds; Dr Aditi Ghei, consultant in pain medicine, West Herts NHS Trust; Dr Kiran Koneti, consultant in pain management City Hospitals Sunderland NHS Trust; Dr Tim McCormick, consultant in pain medicine Oxford pain Management Centre; Dr Sadiq Bhayani, consultant in pain medicine University Hospitals Leicester NHS Trust; Dr Nicholas M Hacking, consultant anaesthetist, Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Joshua Adedokun, consultant in pain medicine, The Pennine Acute NHS Trust; Dr Neil Collighan, consultant in pain medicine East Kent Hospital NHS Trust; Dr Bela Vadodaria, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management The Hillingdon Hospital; Dr Fraser Duncan, consultant anaesthetist and pain specialist Birmingham; Dr Hoo Kee Tsang, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Richard Gordon-Williams, APT, University College London Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr A Tameem, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management Dudley group of hospitals; Dr Marcia Schofield, pain sPecialist West Suffolk NHS Trust Bury St Edmunds; Dr Giancarlo Camilleri, consultant Ashford & St Peter’s Foundation NHS Trust Chertsey; Dr Joseph Azzopardi, consultant in pain medicine London; Dr Dick Atkinson, retired consultant in pain medicine Central Sheffield University Hospitals; Dr Basil Almahdi, consultant in pain medicine London; Dr Katharine Howells, consultant in pain medicine, RUH Bath NHS Foundation Trust; Dr G Baranidharan, consultant in pain medicine, Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Philippa Armstrong, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine, York Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Lourdes Gaspar, consultant in pain medicine Orthopaedic Hospital Oswestry; Dr Carolyne Timberlake, consultant in pain medicine Kings College Hospital NHS Trust; Dr Intazar Bashir, consultant in pain medicine Worthing; Dr Mark Sanders,consultant in pain medicine at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital; Dr Andrzej Krol, consultant in pain medicine St George’s Hospital London; Dr Peter Hall, consultant in pain Management York Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Susmita Oomman, consultant in pain and Anaesthetic Withybush General Hospital Hywel Dda NHS Trust; Dr Sue Jeffs, consultant in anaesthesia and pain Management Abergavenny Wales; Dr Murali-Krishnan, consultant in pain medicine Northampton; Dr Sabina Bachtold, ST7 pain medicine (APT)/anaesthesia London; Dr A Ravenscroft, consultant in pain Management Nottingham University Hospitals; Dr Sanjay Kuravinakop , consultant in pain medicine Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust; Dr Nicolas Varela, consultant in pain medicine Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Trust; Dr Michael Atayi, consultant in pain medicine George Eliot Hospital; Dr Carl TJ Broadbridge, consultant in pain medicine and anaesthesia Salisbury District Hospital; Dr Ramy Mottaleb, Kingston NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Richard Sawyer, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management, Oxford University Hospitals NHS foundation Trust; Dr Rajesh Menon, consultant in pain medicine Calderdale and Huddersfield NHS Trust; Dr Jeremy Weinbren, consultant in Anaesthetics and pain medicine Hillingdon Hospital; Dr Paul Rolfe,consultant in pain medicine Cambridge; Dr Brian Culbert, consultant in pain medicine East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Rokas Tamosauskas, consultant in pain medicine Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Dr David Gore ST6 Advanced pain Trainee, Oxford University Hospitals; Dr Manohar Sharma, consultant in pain medicine The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust, Liverpool; Dr Jayne Gallagher, consultant in pain medicine Barts Health Trust London; Dr Raju Bhadresha, consultant in pain medicine and anaesthesia East Kent Hospitals University Foundation Trust; Dr Owen Bodycombe, consultant anaesthesia and pain medicine Gloucestershire Hospital’s NHSFT; Dr Ramy Mottaleb,consultant in pain medicine Kingston NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Christian Egeler, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine, Swansea ABMU HB; Dr Deepak Malik, consultant in pain Management University Hospitals Birmimgham NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Mohjir Baloch, consultant in pain Management Frimley Park Hospital; Dr Martyna Berwertz, consultant in pain medicine Sheffield Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Ron Cooper, consultant pain medicine & anaesthesia Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, N Ireland; Dr Ashish Shetty, consultant in pain medicine, University College London Hospitals; Dr S J Law, consultant in pain medicine West Suffolk Hospital; Dr M Mali, consultant in pain medicine Darent Valley Hospital; Dr S James consultant and Lead Clinician Chronic pain Services NHS Lanarkshire; Dr Sarah Aturia,consultant pain and Anaesthetics Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Henriette van Schalkwyk, consultant in pain medicine North Hampshire hospital Basingstoke; Dr Shamim Haider, consultant in pain medicine East Suffolk & North Essex NHS Foundation Trust Colchester & Ipswich; Dr Simon Thomson, consultant in pain medicine and Neuromodulation, Basildon; Dr Danielle Reddi, Locum consultant in pain medicine University College London Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Thomas Samuel, consultant in pain medicine East and North Herts NHS Trust; Dr Arindam De, pain Management consultant University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay (UHMB); Dr Evan Weeks, consultant in anaesthesia & pain medicine Addenbrooke’s Hospital, CUHFT; Dr Ravi M Kare, consultant in pain Management and anaesthesia Norfolk & Norwich University Hospitals; Dr Niranjan Chogle, consultant in pain medicine Ulster Hospital, Northern Ireland; Dr William Campbell, consultant Emeritus and Past President British pain Society, Ulster Hospital Dundonald; Dr Subramanian Ramani, consultant in pain medicine Northampton General Hospital; Dr Adrian Searle, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine, Derby; Dr Sameer Gupta, consultant in anaesthesia and pain Management DRG Health Clinic Doncaster; Dr Diana Dickson, Retired consultant in pain medicine, Leeds; Dr Attam Singh, consultant in pain medicine West Hertfordshire NHS Trust; Dr James Wilson, consultant in anaesthesia & pain medicine Maidstone & Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust; Dr Sharmila Edekar, pain Specialist Glangwili Hospital Hywel Dda HB; Dr Bernard Nawarski, consultant in pain medicine Frimley Health; Dr Sridevi Ramachandran, consultant in pain medicine, Anglian Community Enterprise; Dr John Wiles, consultant in pain medicine The Walton Centre NHS Foundation Trust; Dr A T Arasu Rayen, consultant in pain Management, Sandwell and West Birmingham NHS Trust; Dr John Titterington, consultant pain Management, Leeds Teaching Hospitals; Dr Deepak Subramani, consultant in anaesthesia and pain Management George Eliot Hospital; Dr Ian D Goodall, consultant in pain medicine, Chelsea and Westminster Hospital NHS Trust; Dr Seshu Babu Tatikola, consultant In pain medicine & Anaesthesia, Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS trust; Dr Kevin Markham, consultant in pain medicine Surrey Heath Community pain Clinic; Dr Husham Al-Shather ,consultant in pain medicine Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust; Dr K.Dhandapani, York Hospitals NHS foundation Trust York; Dr Chris Naylor, consultant in pain medicine, Southend University Hospital NHS Trust; Dr Sally Ghazaleh, Locum pain consultant Royal Berkshire hospital; Dr Bala Veemarajan ,Sherwood Forest Hosp NHS trust; Dr GR Towlerton, consultant in pain medicine, Chelsea & Westmister Hospital; Dr Mandar Joshi, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine, Aneurin Bevan University Health Board; Dr Ashish Wagle,consultant Anaesthetist and pain specialist Cwm Taf University Health Board Wales; Dr A Doger, consultant University Hospitals Birmingham & Associate Medical Director John Taylor Hospice; Dr Salmin Aseri, consultant in pain medicine & Anaesthesia; St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr George Harrison, consultant in pain medicine, Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital; Dr Rashmi Poddar, pain consultant Kettering General Hospital; Dr Ashish Gulve; consultant in pain Management The James Cook University Hospital Middlesbrough; Dr Yaser Mehrez,consultant in pain medicine and anaesthesia Milton Keynes University Hospital NHS Trust; Dr Victoria Tidman, consultant in pain medicine University College London Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Tacson Fernandez,consultant in pain medicine Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital; Dr Kim Carter, consultant Anaesthetist & pain Northampton General Hospital; Dr Anand Natarajan, consultant in pain Management Wirral University Teaching Hospitals; Dr Dominic Aldington consultant in pain medicine Royal Hampshire County Hospital; Dr Emma Chojnowska, consultant in pain medicine and anaesthesia Chichester; Dr Liza Tharakan, consultant in pain medicine and Anaesthesia; Royal Orthopaedic Hospital; Dr Moein Tavakkoli, consultant in pain medicine University College London Hopsital (NHNN); Dr Manojit Sinha ,consultant pain medicine King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Sanjay Varma,consultant in pain Management Sunderland Royal Hosptal Sunderland; Dr Shravan Tirunagari, consultant anaesthesia and pain Management, East and North NHS Trust Hospitals; Dr Monica Chogle, consultant in Anaesthetics and pain Northern Health and Social Care Trust Northern Ireland; Dr Subhash Kandikattu, consultant in pain Management, Peterborough City Hospital North West Anglia NHS FT; Dr Jan Rudiger, consultant in Anaesthetics and pain medicine, Redhill; Dr Arun Sehgal, consultant in pain medicine and Anaesthesia,Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals; Dr Matthew LLoyd Hamilton, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine, Homerton University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, London Dr Athmaja Thottungal, consultant and Trust Clinical lead for pain management, East Kent Hospitals NHS Trust; Dr Rubina Ahmad, Title: Locum consultant, work place; Brighton and Sussex University Hospital NHS Trust: Dr Sean White, consultant in pain medicine, London pain Service; Dr Anup Bagade, consultant in pain medicine East and North Herts NHS Trust; Dr Tom Smith, consultant in pain medicine London; Dr Jason Brooks, consultant pain medicine Belfast Health and Social Care Trust; Dr Vinay Anjana Reddy, consultant in pain and anaesthesia University Hospital Lewisham; Dr S Murugesan, consultant in anaesthesia and pain management, Wrightington Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust; Dr Nancy Cox, APT, University Hospital Coventry and Warwick NHS Trust; Dr Ashwin Mallya, Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospital NHS Trust; Dr M Serpell, consultant & Senior Lecturer in pain medicine & anaesthesia Greater Glasgow & Clyde NHS; Dr Srinivas Bathula, consultant in pain Management Heart of England NHS Trust University Hospital, Birmingham; Dr Ann-Katrin Fritz, consultant Alain Management Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital; Dr Ashok Puttappa, consultant in anaesthesia and Chronic pain University Hospital North Midlands Stoke on Trent; Dr Tom Bendinger, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine Sheffield Teaching Hospitals; Dr Sumit Gulati,consultant in pain medicine and anaesthesia Walton Centre NHS FT, Liverpool UK;Dr Arun Natarajan, consultant in pain medicine Hillingdon Hospital; Dr Katrina Dick, consultant in anaesthesia and pain medicine Ayrshire and Arran; Dr Shefali Kadambande , consultant in anaesthesia and pain management University Hospital of Wales; Dr Nick Roberts, consultant in pain Management Kettering General Hospital; Dr Somnath Bagchi, consultant in pain medicine University Hospitals Plymouth UK; Dr Lakshman Radhakrishnan, consultant in pain management Royal Lancaster Infirmary; Dr Stephan Weber, consultant in pain Management BMI Goring Hall Hospital; Dr Kiran Sachane consultant in pain medicine NHS Lothian pain Service, Edinburgh Scotland; Dr James Blackburn, consultant in pain medicine, St George’s Healthcare NHS Trust; Dr Srinivas Bathula, consultant in pain medicine, University Hospitals Birmingham NHS FT; Dr Ravi Srinivasagopalan, consultant in pain Management and anaesthesia The Hillingdon Hospitals NHS FT; Dr John Goddard, consultant in Paediatric pain medicine Sheffield Children’s Hospital; Dr Chad Taylor, pain medicine consultant, Jersey (Channel Islands UK); Dr Udaya Kumar Chakka, consultant in pain medicine, Coventry; Dr Pallav Desai, Neuromodulation Fellow, James Cook University Hospital; Dr Azfer Usmani, Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust; Dr Neal Evans, consultant in pain medicine Bucks Hosps NHS Trust; Dr Kanar Al-Quragooli, Associate Specialist in anaesthesia and pain medicine , Manchester FT; Dr Valentina Jansen, consultant in pain and anaesthetics Glangwili General Hospital Hywel Dda NHS Trust; Professor Emeritus Sam H Ahmedzai, University of Sheffield; Dr Mike Hudspith, consultant in pain medicine Norfolk & Norwich University Hospital;

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 26, 2018 at 9:46 am

Chip Somers, Drug Therapist Charlatan. Ignorant? A Liar? Or Both?

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vic-derby-cannabis-discussion

It takes a lot to get me angry these days about attitudes towards cannabis.  Many people are simply misinformed and are themselves victims of a relentless propaganda campaign by governments and the gutter press.  Today though I watched the Victoria Derbyshire show on catch up from last Tuesday, the day that Parliament published published its report on medicinal cannabis.  In the studio were CLEAR member Lara Smith, UPA member Faye Adams and Chip Somers, described as a ‘government advisor’, was on Skype from his home in Hampstead.

You can watch the programme on BBC iPlayer here.  The segment runs from 1:22:09 to 1:33.58.

Now this is the BBC, which is always pro status quo and has a dreadful record on inaccurate reporting about cannabis.  It’s also the Victoria Derbyshire show, which is a long way from serious news and is more like a cross between Jeremy Kyle and Woman’s Hour – but give them credit for covering the issue

You can’t blame people who have been misinformed and whose prejudice is deeply ingrained from years of brainwashing.  This applies to many MPs, journalists, even doctors and scientists.  Remember, the endocannabinoid system. one of the most important physiological systems, isn’t even taught in UK medical schools, so ignorance is widespread, even amongst those you would expect to be well informed.

Chip Somers

Chip Somers

There can be no excuse for this mendacious and wicked man, Chip Somers, though.  He is, you will remember, the addiction therapist who grandstanded over his work with Russell Brand a couple of years ago.  He advocates the total abstinence route to recovery which has been so eagerly embraced by the judgmental puritans at the Home Office and has led directly to the highest ever rate of drug overdose deaths, only released last week.   Is the man simply a complete fool or is he deliberately dishonest?  I think it has to be both.  No one with the experience he claims could be so stupid.  For some reason: misplaced morality, corrupt influence of money, government pressure, self-promotion of his therapy business – he is engaged in deception.

I’m not going to analyse every one of his miserable words.  Watch him for yourself but prepare to be appalled. Suffice to say that his only tactic was to argue against medicinal use with ‘dangers’ that apply only to recreational use by children – a transparent disinformation strategy.  He was also nothing less than abusive to Faye’s and Lara’s testimony and his dismissal of Professor Mike Barnes’ evidence review, which analyses 20,000 scientific papers, was just laughable.

Chip Somers is a liar, a charlatan, a confidence trickster and a deceiver.  If only some such donkey of a faux therapist would seek recourse in the courts for such descriptions of him. Then we would have the opportunity to prove that he is a man of bad character and evil motivation.

Extraordinary Change Of Tone On Cannabis By The NHS.

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nhs-logo-image-1-296169897NHS Choices published an article today that represents a sea change in attitudes towards cannabis.

Headlined ‘No proof that high dose cannabis is more addictive’, it pulled apart the Daily Mail article on the study published this week in ‘Addiction’.

cannabis leaf in handFinally, it seems, the facts and evidence seem to be getting through, even in Britain. Cannabis is close to a miracle plant, closely intertwined with our body’s natural endocannabinoid system, providing nurture, therapy and healing for many illnesses and promoting good health and wellbeing.

Of course, like anything, even water, it is not without the potential for harm.  It is habit forming, about as much as coffee.  Children shouldn’t be using it, just as they shouldn’t be drinking double espressos.  The madness that is current policy causes far more harm than it prevents. We need to get the dealers off the streets, regulate and control the market properly and start allowing the people of Britain to benefit from the plant they have been denied for too long.

Written by Peter Reynolds

March 20, 2014 at 10:16 pm

Synthetic Cannabinoids. A Nasty Business, By Nasty People, With Nasty Results.

with 11 comments

Totnes, Devon. Worldwide Centre For Synthetic Cannabinoids

Cannabinoids are powerful substances.  They are fundamental to life.  With that power comes danger.  Modern science and chemistry allows unscrupulous businessmen to exploit and endanger young people as they follow the perfectly natural path of all youngsters – to experiment and to get “high”.

In mammals, birds, reptiles and fish, the endocannabinoid system regulates all aspects of physical and mental health.  Evolution, Mother Nature, God, Science – whatever name you assign to it – has endowed the cannabis plant as the only natural source of cannabinoids outside the body.  Self-evidently, we are in a chicken and egg dilemma here about names and terminology but the facts remain the same, cannabinoids are vital substances.  The cannabis plant exists in a symbiotic relationship with mankind.  No wonder that some call it sacred.

The great immoral evil that is prohibition seeks to deny access to cannabis.  So, in our modern, technological world, inevitably, people find a way to circumvent the law.  This was the birth of “legal highs”, the creation of “analogues” or slight molecular variations of delta-9-tetrahydrocannibinol (THC), notorious as the ingredient in cannabis that gets you “high”.  In fact, the benefits of cannabis are much more complex than that.  It is the interaction of around 100 cannabinoids in the plant together with terpines, flavonoids and other compounds that produce the delightful and therapeutic effects.

The effect of synthetic cannabinoids – “Spice” was the biggest brand name ever – is vile.  It is really, truly horrible.  It has none of the inherent, natural, protective balance of real cannabis.  It causes paranoia, anxiety, fear, delusions, all the symptoms that describe psychosis, the term that has been used to demonise cannabis which, in its natural form, is actually very safe and contains anti-psychotic agents.  Worse than that, Spice can lead to elevated blood pressure, heart palpitations, seizures and vomiting.  As well as the lack of natural, counterbalancing ingredients, it is also believed to bind more strongly to the cannabinoid receptors, increasing the duration and potency of its effects.

In Britain, the centre of the synthetic cannabinoid business is Totnes, an apparently sleepy market town in Devon.  In fact, it is an important hub of the synthetic cannabinoid business in Europe and worldwide.  Here, in a grubby warehouse, on a run down industrial estate, completely untested chemical compounds are imported from China, mixed with other ingredients of dubious source and then distributed around the Britain and the world, largely to be sold to young people and children, completely outside the control, moral or legal regulation of any responsibility.

If Shaun Sawyer, the chief constable of Devon and Cornwall wants to do something effective to protect young people, instead of breaking down the doors of people growing a few cannabis plants he should be checking out the contents of this warehouse in Totnes.  It is a combination of laziness and ignorance that the police aren’t dealing with this.  Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are far, far more dangerous to our young people and our communities than the natural and generally benign cannabis plant.

Spice and other synthetic cannabinoids are usually dried herbs or plant material that has been sprayed with cannabinoid(s) and marketed as a smoking material.  Often the plant material itself has some sort of psychoactive effect.  These include blue water lily (Nymphaea caerulea), dwarf skullcap (Scutellaria nana), Maconha brava (Zornia latifolia or Z. diphylla), Siberian motherwort (Leonurus sibiricus), Indian warrior (Pedicularis densiflora) and lion’s tail (Leonotis leonuru). Large amounts of Vitamin E have also been found in some samples, possibly to mask detection of the cannabinoids.  The cannabinoids themselves are usually JWH-018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, HU-210 and cannabicyclohexanol. They might be used individually or in any ratio or combination that is convenient or profitable.

From 23rd December 2009, these known ingredients of Spice were prohibited and are now “controlled” under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 as if they are cannabis.  However, they are very difficult to detect and many more synthetic cannabinoids have been developed.  In Totnes there may be a large amount of left over Spice, re-packaged as something else, possibly even mixed with new synthetics which this “Mr Big” has formulated for him by his expert chemist who he told me is based in Austria.  Who knows what these products contain? Mr Big and the Austrian chemist engage in frequent email correspondence and samples are sent back and forth as ever more effective attempts are made to evade the law and produce stronger and more profitable chemicals.

A year or so ago I was invited inside this warehouse myself and it opened my eyes to the extremes that some people are prepared to go to make a fast buck.  It is dark, dank and clammy.  It reeks of slightly rotten or putrid contents.  There are boxes and crates spread in no apparent order everywhere.  There are large envelopes and plastic containers on shelves containing indeterminate substances that look like dried mushrooms, herbs and plant material.  There are also unlabelled powders and pills and, surprisingly for something that is now supposed to be against the law to possess or sell, large quantities of packets that are labelled “Spice”, although what they actually contain is uncertain.

Mr Big is surrounded by a small group of sycophants, some work in his warehouse, some are controlled by gifts and “entertainment”.  Downstairs in the dingy warehouse groups of people sit around smoking.

Upstairs in the office is even more worrying.  There’s everything you would expect at a thriving mail order business.  People working on computers, answering telephones, packing orders and yet more strange substances and distinctly dodgy looking products.  I am shown a tea caddy-like container, covered in Chinese decoration and writing.  I’m told it is the very latest synthetic cannabinoid imported from China.  It’s a fine white powder that glistens slightly. Then I’m introduced to the manufacturing process.

Drug Mixer

A large red “Kitchen Aid” food mixer, the sort you would find in a professional kitchen, is taken off the shelf and Mr Big produces a football sized lump of squidgy, black, supposedly inert, base material.  Yes, it looks just like squidgy, black hash but what exactly it contains I have no idea and neither, I should think, does Mr Big.  Into the mixing bowl goes a generous handful of this gunk and then the cannabinoid is sprinkled over it. There’s no measurement or calculation or care involved .  It’s entirely haphazard and, it has to be said, reckless.  The mixer is cranked up to maximum and left to do its work with just one more slug of the white powder for luck.  Soon it will be cut into small portions and distributed through head shops and by mail order for unsuspecting people to try.

Yes, I tried it myself.  It was horrendous.  I am a very experienced cannabis user of over 40 years standing.  I’ve tried and enjoyed the strongest varieties, be it Nepalese, Afghan or Pakistani hash, concentrated oil, Thai sticks, the finest medicinal product from Bedrocan in Holland and MMJ dispensaries in the USA.  Nothing could have prepared me for the potency and horrible  effect of this Totnes poison.

I crumbled a very small amount into my favourite metal pipe, lit it and took a very gentle pull, just enough to get it burning.  Within moments I had the most powerful and unpleasant sensation.  Every negative, nasty and unwanted effect that I’ve experienced from anything cannabis related was there.  Previously, the only bad effects I’ve had from the real thing are when I’ve eaten too much but this was much worse than that.  I was instantly on edge, feeling slightly panicky and breathing very quickly.  It took fifteen minutes to wear off and the rest of the small sample that Mr Big had given me went straight in the bin.

So what’s the answer to this?  Ban it?  Lock up Mr Big and throw away the key?

Not at all.  Prohibition is a dangerous and irresponsible policy that always causes more harm than it prevents. Remember, Spice is already banned but it hasn’t made any difference to Mr Big and he probably doesn’t even know himself which products in his sordid inventory are allowed and which aren’t.  It would probably keep the local drug testing laboratory busy for a year before they manage to go through them all.

These synthetic cannabinoids and all “legal highs” whether or not they’ve yet been banned, are the product of prohibition.  They would not exist, nor pose any significant problem, were it not for the ludicrous, self-defeating and harmful policy followed by the British government and other misguided administrations all over the world.

Mr Big and his Austrian chemist will be happy to continue designing new chemicals to sell to our children and there are plenty of unscrupulous Chinese manufacturers who will service their evil trade.

The only answer is to regulate, to introduce a system of licensing, age restrictions and consumer protection.  It won’t eliminate the problem entirely but at least it will give us some degree of control, because prohibition provides none.

Mr Big doesn’t give a damn.  Although he has a family of his own including small children, all he is concerned with are the hundreds of thousands of pounds he has made by turning Totnes into a worldwide centre for his disgusting trade.  We must take responsibility, regulate, control and protect and in due course, Mr Big will get what’s coming to him.

I am pleased to announce that CLEAR will be launching an information campaign about the dangers of synthetic cannabinoids.

The ultimate answer is to end the prohibition of cannabis.

An Unaffordable Prejudice – A Report To The Home Affairs Committee Concerning The Cannabis Laws

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Probably the worst part of becoming leader of Cannabis Law Reform (CLEAR) has been learning how to deal with the abuse and vitriolic jealousy that has been directed at me.

In fact it started even before my election when I set up the British Medicinal Cannabis Register (BMCR).  Immediately, some individuals accused me of being an undercover cop, of trying to cheat medicinal users into incriminating themselves.  I was astonished at the divisiveness, backstabbing and bitterness within the cannabis community.  I was accused of making money out of it and exploitation – ridiculous ideas to anyone with an ounce of common sense

You will know the rest.  It got even worse.  A Peter Reynolds “hate site” was set up by a psychotic breakaway from UK420 which made a series of completely ludicrous and false allegations about me.  Everything I had ever said about myself was untrue, apparently.  I was said to be a fascist, a Jew hater, a racist, etc, etc, etc.

I published evidence of my previous work and the trolls and numpties faded away – but not completely.  Even in quite close proximity, some who you might expect to be supportive of the progress we have achieved recently, have grumbled and groaned and suggested that I have not been truthful about my record in the cannabis campaign.  Those who prefer to look backwards rather than forwards continue to quibble.

Last week my ex-wife cleared out her loft.  My sons salvaged a copy of the report I submitted to the Home Affairs committee nearly 30 years ago.  It was in 1983, not in 1978 as I had said previously –  which will probably bring yet  more accusations!

So here it is, printed on a daisy wheel printer, with finger marks and smudges intact.  It’s amazing really because this was written even before the discovery of the endocannabinoid system and that is the only real difference in the argument I presented then from what I would say today.

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