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Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘government

Cruel And Irresponsible Response from UK Government To Parliamentary Report On Medicinal Cannabis.

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doctor-tips-bud-out-of-pot

Unsurprisingly perhaps, the response to the recent call from MPs and peers to legalise cannabis for medicinal use has come straight from the top.  Theresa May’s longstanding reputation as a denier of science and evidence on drugs policy is reinforced by her peremptory dismissal of the expert report.  It seems that, at least in the short term, the UK government is sticking by a policy that is discredited, ridiculous and deeply cruel.

It fell to Sarah Newton MP, minister of state at the Home Office, to respond to a parliamentary question from Roger Godsiff, Labour MP for Birmingham, Hall Green.

Roger Godsiff MP

Roger Godsiff MP

“To ask the Secretary of State for the Home Department, if she will respond to the recommendations of the report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs, published in September 2016.”

 

Sarah Newton MP

Sarah Newton MP

“The Prime Minister responded to the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Drug Policy Reform’s report ‘Accessing Medicinal Cannabis: Meeting Patients’ Needs’ on the 27 October.

Cannabis is controlled as a Class B drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and, in its raw form, currently has no recognised medicinal benefits in the UK. It is therefore listed as a Schedule 1 drug under the Misuse of Drugs Regulations 2001.

It is important that all medicines containing controlled drugs are thoroughly trialled to ensure they meet rigorous standards so that doctors and patients are sure of their efficacy and safety. To do otherwise for cannabis would amount to a circumvention of the clearly established and necessary regime for approving medicines in the UK.”

In other words, this is nothing more than a re-statement of the same position that the UK government has held since 1971 when legal access to medicinal cannabis was halted.  Quite clearly the government has given no consideration at all to the vast amount of scientific evidence and international experience that has accumulated over the last 45 years.  The latest report which took nine months to produce, took evidence from over 600 witnesses and included a review of over 20,000 scientific studies is simply cast aside.  To be honest, I doubt whether it has even been read by Ms May or anyone in the Home Office or Department of Health. This is the standard that now prevails in the UK – government of the people by an unaccountable, out-of-touch, unresponsive cabal of individuals elected by a deeply flawed system that gives democracy a bad name.

On the face of it, the claim that all medicines must be thoroughly trialled seems plausible – but it is not.  It is a misleading half-truth clearly intended to squash the call for access to medicinal cannabis by painting a false picture.

Doctors are allowed to prescribe any medicine, licensed or unlicensed, as they see fit, based on their own judgement. But prescribing of cannabis is specifically prohibited by Statutory Instrument despite the scientific consensus that it is far less dangerous than many, probably most commonly prescribed medicines.

So it’s not a level playing field.  It’s a policy that is based on prejudice and scaremongering about recreational use of cannabis.  Ms Newton’s answer is at best disingenuous but then she probably doesn’t even realise that herself.  For many years Home Office policy has been systematically to mislead and misinform on cannabis and evidently under Ms May’s successor, Amber Rudd MP, such dishonesty continues.

Theresa May MP

Theresa May MP

Something will eventually force the government’s hand to change its absurd position on cannabis. Sadly the very last consideration will be scientific evidence or the will of the people. Such factors hold no sway with  UK governments. Only when enough of the political elite open their eyes and examine their conscience, or some key individuals or their family members, experience the need for medicinal cannabis will change become possible.  Alternatively, political upheaval may present an opportunity. The Liberal Democrats were too cowardly, weak and concerned with building their personal careers when in coalition to advance the cause they now so bravely advocate.  Perhaps the SNP, with 56 MPs, all in favour of medicinal cannabis may be our best hope.

Sarah Newton is merely a puppet of the Home Office bureaucracy.  Theresa May’s mendacious position on all aspects of drugs policy is well established and she is as stubborn and bigoted as they come on such matters.  Only when she, in person, is subject to sufficient pressure will this cruel, ignorant and hateful policy change.

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CLEAR Statement Concerning Cannabis Legalisation Measures In US Election.

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pjr-iow

 

“This is marvellous news for liberty, health and human rights.  The USA, unlike Britain, has a functioning democracy where the will of the people prevails rather than the bigotry and self-interest of politicians.  It is wonderful to see that truth, justice and evidence is winning out over the lies and misinformation we have been fed about cannabis for almost 100 years.

In 1971, the British government abdicated all responsibility on cannabis and abandoned our communities and our children to criminal gangs.  Since then all the harms have multiplied exponentially.  The laws against cannabis fund organised crime, promote dangerous hidden farms which are fire risks, the destruction of rental property, selling to children, contaminated ‘moonshine’ cannabis, gang violence, lives ruined by criminal records and the cruel denial of safe, effective medicine that can relieve pain, suffering and disability.

Donald Trump has supported access to medicinal cannabis all along.  Many British politicians who consider him to be an unreasonable person should now look to themselves and ask whether they are being reasonable by supporting prohibition, even for medical use.

It is time for Theresa May, Amber Rudd and the UK government to take responsibility for the £6 billion pa cannabis market.  The tide of legalisation is now unstoppable and it would be deeply irresponsible for them to fail to act.  They must grasp this nettle now!”

Peter Reynolds, president of CLEAR Cannabis Law Reform

On The Eve Of The Cannabis Debate, CLEAR Meets Top Government Minister.

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letwin pjr

Oliver Letwin MP, Cabinet Office Minister. Peter Reynolds, President of CLEAR

Today, Friday 9th October, in advance of Monday’s cannabis debate in Parliament, I met with Oliver Letwin, the Cabinet Office minister with responsibility for the implementation of government policy.

According to The Independent, Oliver Letwin is “probably the most powerful person in the government after the Prime Minister and Chancellor”.  I first met with him back in July and he agreed to investigate the possibility of cannabis being available on prescription. When the cannabis debate was announced, I asked to see him again before the debate took place and he very generously arranged to see me just in time.

Monday’s debate will be the first time in nearly 50 years that MPs have had an opportunity to consider the subject.  Throughout the world, more and more governments are waking up to the huge damage that cannabis prohibition causes. Nearly all the harms around cannabis are not caused by cannabis itself but the laws against it. Prohibition of anything for which there is huge demand inevitably creates a criminal market. More than three million people in the UK choose to use cannabis regularly. We consume more than three and a half tons every day and spend more than £6 billion every year, all of which goes into the black economy.

Since the early 20th century, acres of newsprint have been devoted to telling us how harmful cannabis can be.  The alcohol industry fiercely guards its monopoly of legal recreational drug use.  It has enormous influence in government and its £800 million annual advertising spend give it great power over the media.

But the truth is becoming clear. Scientific evidence and real world experience show that compared to alcohol and even common painkillers and over-the-counter medicines, cannabis is very, very safe.  Concerns about mental health impacts are proven to be wildly overblown as cannabis use has escalated by many orders of magnitude but mental health diagnoses have remained stable. Increasingly, those responsible for drugs policy realise that abandoning this huge market to criminals only makes things worse. Criminals don’t care who they sell to or what they sell, so children and the vulnerable become their customers and their product becomes low quality, contaminated, often very high strength ‘moonshine’ varieties.

A Win Win Proposal To The UK Government On Cannabis.

Perhaps the most pernicious effect of cannabis prohibition is the denial of access to it a medicine. On this, Mr Letwin has been consulting with other ministers in the Department of Health and the Home Office.  He says he is now convinced that there is a very positive future for cannabinoid medicines. As a result, I hope to be meeting again shortly with George Freeman MP, the Life Sciences Minister. I led a delegation of medicinal cannabis users to meet with him at the beginning of this year. Mr Letwin has indicated to me that it is Mr Freeman’s office that needs to deal with this, so I am hopeful of real progress in the near future.

Mr Letwin warned me that the debate itself will not produce any change in the law and I acknowledge this but it is part of the process that will eventually get us there. I suggested that there is a win win option that could be implemented very easily and quickly. There is huge pressure on the government to act but also great inertia and resistance to change from the old guard. I proposed that if cannabis could be moved out of schedule 1 of the Misuse of Drugs Regulations it would enable doctors to prescribe it and researchers more easily begin the task of developing and testing new products.

The great benefit this would offer to the government is that it would be seen to be responding to the evidence, being progressive and keeping up with the worldwide movement towards reform. However, for the more conservative thinkers, the ‘tough on drugs’ mantra would remain in place. Cannabis would still be a class B drug and all the same penalties would remain in force.  Both sides of the debate could see this move as a success for their argument.

So we all look forward to the debate. As is normal practice, no government ministers will participate but I expect a Home office minister will give some sort of response. We are making progress.  Revolution is not the British way but I do think we can continue with guarded optimism that our message is getting through and the direction of travel is certain.

Written by Peter Reynolds

October 9, 2015 at 1:18 pm

David Cameron, Theresa May And The UK Government Turned Their Backs.

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dead boy with policeman

NOT IN MY NAME!

Written by Peter Reynolds

September 3, 2015 at 8:28 am

This Is How The UK Government Lies To Its Citizens About Cannabis.

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The preposterous response from the UK government to the massive petition for the legalisation of cannabis is a pack of lies.

Systematic Misinformation, Deception And Dishonesty

Systematic Misinformation, Deception And Dishonesty

Yes. Lies. Not a word it’s wise to use unless it’s accurate but in this case it is. The Home Office is disgraced on so many aspects of its work but it has been systematically misleading, misinforming and promoting untruths about cannabis since 1971.  Individual Home Secretaries are fully complicit in this dishonesty, most notably James Callaghan, Merlyn Rees, William Whitelaw, Leon Brittan, Douglas Hurd, Michael Howard, Jack Straw, Jacqui Smith, Alan Johnson and the incumbent, Theresa May.

Certainly in the last 20 years there can be no excuse at all.  The balance of scientific evidence has been quite clear for at least that long that although a very small number of people may be vulnerable, for 99% of people cannabis is almost completely benign and often beneficial.

The dishonesty of these disgraced ministers brings shame on both the Conservative and Labour parties and the civil service officials in the Home Office. They all know full well that they have lied to the public and they continue to do so, undoubtedly because of corrupt influence from vested interests, principally the tabloid editors, press barons and the alcohol industry. Their lies have resulted in the unnecessary criminalisation of over one million people, the frittering away of tens of billions in futile law enforcement costs and lost tax revenue.  Most dreadful of all, the denial of access to medicinal cannabis by those in pain, suffering and disability.

ACMD CC and PHThe basis for the government’s dismissal of the petition is given as the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) 2008 report  ‘Cannabis: Classification and Public Health’.

In the covering letter to the report, the then chair of the ACMD does say “… the use of cannabis is a significant public health issue. Cannabis can unquestionably cause harm to individuals and society.”

Judge for yourself whether the evidence in the report supports the idea that cannabis is a “significant public health issue”. I don’t think it does and nowhere in the report is such an unequivocal statement made except in the covering letter.  Of course it is true that cannabis can cause harm to individuals, just as digestive biscuits, chips and sugary drinks can, so that’s pretty meaningless.  There is no evidence in the report at all of cannabis causing harm to society.

But the covering letter then makes the point very strongly that “strategies designed to minimise its use and adverse effects must be predominantly public health ones. Criminal justice measures – irrespective of classification – will have only a limited effect on usage.”

The report recommends that cannabis remain in class C of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 but the government of the day, led by Gordon ‘Skunk is Lethal’ Brown, ignored that and increased it to class B.

Read the report yourself.  Compare it with the government’s response to the petition.  To claim that the report supports present policy is false.  It directly contradicts present policy. There is also now a host of high quality evidence on the reality of decriminalised or regulated cannabis markets from the Netherlands, Portugal, Colorado and Washington.  This shows beyond any doubt that the government’s suggestions of “drug dependence… misery… increased misuse” have no basis in evidence at all.  Furthermore the idea that new tax revenue would be outweighed by new costs is directly contradicted by every study on the subject.   I repeat, the government’s response is a pack of lies

Sadly, the United Kingdom is a country where government ministers are prepared to lie, mislead, distort evidence and deceive the British people in order to maintain policies based on prejudice and the corrupt influence of vested interests.

Cameron And His Inhumane, Crony Government Disgraces Britain And Destroys Our Values.

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Any one of us could become a refugee. Just pray that if it happens to you it won’t be the cruel, heartless, despicable UK government that you have to turn to.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 24, 2015 at 8:03 am

Posted in Politics

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Now The Cannabis Petition Has Passed 200,000, What Can You Do Next?

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At 15:45, 20th August 2015

At 15:45, 20th August 2015

It’s a great achievement that together we have doubled the the number of signatures required for a debate on cannabis legalisation to be ‘considered’.  But it’s not over yet.

The government and many MPs will fight tooth and nail to stop any debate. You can be sure that the alcohol industry is already lobbying ministers furiously. It is terrified that there could be a much safer, healthier and legal alternative to its poisonous products.

So we can’t even be certain there will be a debate. Many, perhaps most MPs are incapable of dealing with this issue on a rational basis. They are transfixed by fear of what the media will say if they support reform. Most have no understanding about cannabis at all and base their views on the rubbish published in the Daily Telegraph or the Daily Mail. Even worse, they may rely on what the Home Office says. Be in no doubt, in the great history of Britain, never has there been more dishonesty from government than from the Home Office on cannabis. It deceives, misinforms and lies as a matter of course. It is Home Office policy to mislead the public about cannabis.

The next step is to contact your MP and do your bit to educate him or her on the truth. It is vital that you do this. For the first time, enough people have signed a petition to make it mean something. We must build on this effort. Do not let yourself or the rest of the country down. The responsibility rests on your shoulder as much as it does on everyone else’s.

You can find out who your MP is by entering your postcode on this website.

You can find out your MP’s email address by looking their name up here.

You can also Google your MP’s name which will lead you to their personal website and more contact details.

You can write by letter to your MP at: House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA

Please make the effort to take these steps in contacting your MP.  Ideally, make initial contact by email or letter, then a week or so later make an appointment and go and see your MP.

Write To Your MP

Most important is that you must include your full postal address and postcode to show that you are a constituent.  Without this your email or letter will be ignored.

Either an email or a letter is fine but you might want to consider doing both!

Write in your own words.  MPs are now wise to what they call ‘campaign emails’.  The large number of campaigns by groups such as 38 Degrees have really swamped MPs with repetitive correspondence.  It doesn’t work to send what is clearly a template or automatically generated email.  You will just be ignored.  Many MPs actually warn against this now on their website.

So, in your own words, make these points:

1. I support the petition for a debate to be held on legalising cannabis.
2. More than twice as many people as required have signed the petition, so please will you do what you can to ensure that a debate will take place?
3. Legal regulation of cannabis will be much safer for everyone than the present criminal market.
4. £6 billion every year is spent on cannabis and it all goes to criminals.
5. I want to see cannabis available to adults only through licensed outlets with proper labelling and quality control.
6. I want to see cannabis taxed so that, as in Colorado, we can invest millions more in schools and hospitals.
7. Many people need access to medicinal cannabis for which there is now strong scientific evidence.
8. Please will you support and vote for legal regulation of cannabis?

You can link to these four pieces of evidence in your email or letter

Cannabis is 114 times safer than alcohol: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4311234/
No link between adolescent cannabis use and later health problems: http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/adb-adb0000103.pdf
‘Medicinal Cannabis:The Evidence’: http://clear-uk.org/static/media/PDFs/medicinal_cannabis_the_evidence2.pdf
Taxation of cannabis market net annual gain to the UK economy up to £9.5 billion: http://clear-uk.org/media/uploads/2011/09/TaxUKCan.pdf

Meet Your MP

The best way to arrange this is to telephone or email your MP’s constituency office.  You will find the email address or phone number on your MP’s website.

Don’t get into a discussion with your MP’s staff about cannabis.  Of course, explain why you want a meeting but concentrate on making the appointment.  Don’t be brushed off.  It is your right to meet your MP. Explain that you want an appointment as soon as possible, certainly within the next month or it will be too late.

When you go to the meeting, be on time, dress as if you were going to a job interview and be polite and respectful at all times.  Ideally, print out the evidence above and take it with you. Ask your MP to promise to read it.  Tell a personal story about how cannabis has helped you or how you or someone you know has suffered because of the law against it. Remember, your MP works for you so don’t allow yourself to be bullied or dismissed without proper attention.

What Will Happen Next?

If even one-tenth of the people who have signed the petition take the steps set out above we could well have a revolution!

Seriously, If every MP is contacted by at least half a dozen constituents who want a meeting on the subject it is going to make a very big impact.

This is our chance. Do not miss it. Do your bit. Don’t give up. Don’t be cynical.

Even if we don’t win this time we can make tremendous progress.  We can weaken the evil forces of prohibition and start to drive it out of our lives and our country.

This is a call to action, as never before. Take this chance! Write to your MP! Meet your MP! Play your part in overturning this wicked, monstrous law!

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 20, 2015 at 4:21 pm