Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘hypocrisy

UK Drug Strategy 2010 – A Plan To Fail

with 38 comments

Mother Knows Best

Gone are the days when central Government tells communities and the public what to do.

Rt. Hon. Theresa May, MP, Home Secretary, December 2010

A slim volume of treacle-like and turgid social worker-speak shot through with a few strands of sharp hypocrisy.  See here.

A disappointment?  Not really, it’s pretty much what I expected – an authoritarian, moralistic smokescreen behind which the government will do what it wants with no regard whatsoever for the views or the welfare of the people.  It stinks.

It claims to be radical in that it turns away from reducing the harms caused by drugs and instead aims to force abstinence. In other words, do as we say or suffer the consequences.  It is, in fact, a medieval solution to a 21st century problem.  It seems that the British government no longer cares about the harm caused by drugs.  All it cares about is that you STOP!  This is the ultimate exposition of Nancy Reagan’s discredited “Just Say No” campaign because it really is “just” say “no” – no other option exists.  This from a government that advocates giving people methadone  to “treat” cannabis use.  Can you believe it?  That isn’t medieval. It’s prehistoric – or perhaps better described as mid 20th century, a sort of Dr Mengele method.

I give Ms May credit for one thing.  She mentions alcohol alongside drugs in the first sentence of her foreword.  That is progress but from then on there is little of any value.  Nothing that you couldn’t have copied from any out of date A level textbook on social work.

The laughable assertion quoted above that the government doesn’t tell us what to do is just absurd.  Never has there been a more hard line approach to the drugs issue.  See Edwin Stratton’s article in The Guardian here which reveals just how draconian, anti-civil liberties and severe this government is.

In the penultimate paragraph of her foreword, Ms May acknowledges that there were calls during consultation on the strategy for “liberalisation and decriminalisation”.  She dismisses these as not “the answer” but fails entirely to consider the enormous harm caused and crime created by existing policies.  I will be making Freedom Of Information requests to determine just how much notice was taken of the consultation.

There is a complete failure to understand or consider the harms of prohibition.  Britain now stands as one of the most backward and restrictive countries in the world when it comes to drug policy.  We now rub shoulders with those countries that execute people for drug possession.  There is no civilised country in the world with a more repressive drugs policy than Britain.

Broken Britain

Emphasis is given to the introduction of elected Police and Crime Commissioners.  I support this move.  Hopefully, these elected officials, being closer to reality and not ensconsed in Whitehall’s ivory towers, will mitigate some of the damage that this strategy could cause.  They will have the impossible job of trying to implement these ideas and will surely give Ms May and her protege James “Broken Britain” Brokenshire some lessons in reality and common sense.

The statistics and figures quoted in the strategy are manifest nonsense.  Apparently the economic and social costs of Class A drug use are £15.4 billion per annum while the equivalent figure for alcohol is £18 – 25 billion.  Supposedly the total illicit drug market in Britain is worth just £4 – 6 billion per annum while the market for alcohol is £30 billion.  There are just 320,000 heroin and/or crack cocaine users but tens of million that use alcohol.  These figures just don’t add up.  Maybe that’s part of the reason this strategy is so badly conceived and directed.

It’s only part of the reason though.  The main problem is that the government’s approach is based on prejudice and an arrogant, moralistic, proselytising stance.  See David Nutt’s article here on what the government would do if a completely safe alternative to ecstasy was developed.  Prohibition is immoral and evil in itself.  When will our politicians wake up to what most of the rest of Europe and the USA already knows?

Powerful Medicine. Gentle Pleasure.

Cannabis, the most widely used illegal drug by a factor of at least 10 barely gets a mention except in passing.  This, in itself, exposes the inane content of this strategy.  The government apparently intends to deal with cannabis in exactly the same way as it deals with heroin and crack.  The medicinal use of cannabis, now a burgeoning industry and source of hope to people all over Europe and America isn’t even mentioned.  The crass stupidity of this strategy is almost beyond belief.

So the battle lines are drawn.  Every other civilised country in the world is coming to terms with the fact that the war on drugs is unwinnable, even lost.  Theresa May, like some mad first world war general, is blowing her whistle and urging on millions more to go over the top into certain death, or at least misery and degradation.  Her slightly fey, sweet boy, Colonel Jimmy is hiding behind her, determined to gain credit for something but definitely not doing anything worthwhile, “Crikey!  Not me. I’m staying safe.”

This could be a deeply depressing day but at least now we know where we stand.  David Cameron and Nick Clegg have completely turned around on the progressive and liberal ideas they have advocated in the past.  Nothing is a better indicator of the integrity and intelligence of a government than its drug policy.  Britain is shamed by this effort which will inevitably cause more harm, cost more money and ruin more lives.

Spectacular Spectator Drivel On Cannabis

with 13 comments

Melanie Phillips

A Zionist, Labour supporting, Daily Mail journalist – it’s hardly a good start is it? I should have known better than even to start reading her article in The Spectator.

This woman is a dangerous liar and propagandist.  Astonishingly, with breathtaking hypocrisy in promoting the most dangerous of drugs, The Spectator describes itself as “Champagne for the brain”.

Here is her article, reproduced without kind permission of The Spectator and my letter to the editor in response.

Yesterday morning, BBC Radio Four’s Today programme broadcast an interview with a professor of neuropharmacology, Roger Pertwee. Prof Pertwee was making an eyebrow-raising suggestion – that cannabis use should be licensed. His argument was as incoherent as it was irresponsible. He maintained, repeatedly, that all he wanted to do was to reduce the harm done by cannabis – from dangers which he appeared to define merely as smoking an adulterated form of the drug, or getting lung cancer from smoking it. So he wanted to restrict it to people whom it ‘wouldn’t harm’. They would use it in other ways than smoking it, so they wouldn’t get cancer. They would go along to their GP who would pronounce them fit enough to use it.

Hello?!?

What about the harm that we know is done by cannabis itself to the brain — to cognition, to memory, to motivation, to personality? What about the tremendous increase in psychosis caused by cannabis use? What about the harm it does to other people in the user’s ambit?

Yes, said Prof Pertwee, indeed, his scheme wouldn’t reduce the harm done by cannabis itself.

What about all those millions more young people who would start using the drug and become addicted and do themselves and other people all that harm?

Yes, stammered Prof Pertwee, that would indeed be an enormous problem with his scheme. But all he wanted to do was, er, to reduce the harm. And when he’d chased his own tail round that pointless circle a few times, he fell back on ‘all I want to do is stimulate discussion’.

In short, it was a stupid and dangerous idea which even in its own terms made no sense whatever. Why on earth was this professor of neuropharmacology spouting such self-evident drivel on the BBC that even he himself had to keep demurring at his own argument?

What the BBC didn’t tell us was that Prof Pertwee was not some dispassionate expert who just happened to breeze into the studio with a cockeyed idea about turning GPs into cannabis pushers.

Prof Pertwee is Director of Pharmacology of GW Pharmaceuticals – which has a special Home Office licence to market a cannabinoid medicine called Sativex which is used to treat certain medical conditions.

His embargoed press release even said of his proposal:

‘I think this might be the way forward, but it might not work…  It depends on a private company being willing to produce a branded product’.

But it’s his own company which is best placed to do just that! In other words, the Today programme – as a result of its own lazy and frivolous bias in favour of drug legalisation,  which presumably meant it didn’t do due diligence in researching its interviewee because he had the Correct Opinion on drug policy – was played for a sucker by Big Pharma. It was used to give prime air-time to a piece of commercial advocacy which was passed off as a neutral policy discussion. Except that the product being promoted here wasn’t soap powder, but a drug that enslaves.

Who needs cannabis when the Beeb is so dopey already?

—– Original Message —–
From: Peter Reynolds
To: letters@spectator.co.uk
Sent: Thursday, September 16, 2010 11:20 AM
Subject: Melanie Phillips, The Dopey Beeb, 15th September 2010

Dear Sir,

The disgraceful display of ignorance and propaganda about cannabis by Melanie Phillips cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged.

Her biogtry plumbs new depths of scandalous nonsense.

In the 1930s they used to say that cannabis makes white women promiscuous with black men. Ms Phillips continues on this shameful path of crass misinformation. She needs to do some research before inflicting her ignorance on readers any further.

I agree that Professor Pertwee was incoherent but he is an academic, not a professional communicator.  At least he was dispensing facts. Ms Phillips’ diatribe was, to say the very least, economical with the truth.

Cannabis does not harm the brain or damage cognition, memory, motivation or personality – at least no more than breathing oxygen does and a whole lot less than any other recreational drug.  The phrase “tremendous increase in psychosis” is just a bare-faced lie and that it harms “other people in the user’s ambit” is the very worst sort of journalistic hogwash.

By all means, Ms Phillips, wallow in your own deluded opinion but don’t use your position to spead such wicked, dangerous nonsense.  You should be ashamed of yourself!

Authoritarian scaremongers, political cowards and cheap scandal-seeking journalists have been urging scientists to prove that cannabis is harmful for well over 100 years.  They haven’t succeeded yet.  On the contrary, all the latest research proves that cannabis is a remarkably benign substance yet with some extraordinary medicinal properties. The endocannabinoid system, which was only discovered in 1998 is now known to be fundamental to life and good health.  The only source of cannabinoids outside the body is the cannabis plant.

I used to have time for Melanie Phillips and some degree of respect for her opinion.  I see now that she is just the same as any tabloid hack who cares not one jot for the truth, merely for cheap sensation and worthless rhetoric.

Yours sincerely,

Peter Reynolds

What Else Could £12 Million Buy?

with 5 comments

Irrelevant

Apparently, excluding policing costs (!), it’s going to cost Britain £12 million for the Pope to come here.  Now what else could we spend that on to better effect?

There must be at least twelve million answers to that question.  It is an absurdity, an anachronism, a throwback to an earlier, superstitious age when the masses were controlled by their fear of some nonsensical, supernatural power.

Pope Katzinger, ex-Hitler youth member and embodiment of the ultimate hypocritical idolatry and perversion of God, is not worthy of admittance to our country, let alone such expense.

I’m not sure that the Vatican state is part of the EU so do we have to let him in?  I suppose he will produce a German or Italian passport if necessary.  I would want to see it and ensure it is up to date.  Surely we could arrange a unilateral European arrest warrant or USA extradition request to get rid of him?  Now that would be a useful purpose for unjust and unfair legislation.

Pope Katzinger is not welcome.  That is a fact.  If we must adhere for a little longer to the idea of a church then we have our own.  The Pope’s has already been banned by royal decree and I hold much closer to the United Kingdom than to any kingdom of supernatural power, particularly one of such evil reputation.

If the head of the Catholic Church wishes to visit this country and meet with his congregation then, as a liberal and open society I suppose we must allow him to do so. We should not have to spare one penny from the care of our elderly, our sick or our needy for the pretensions of this old fool and his entourage.  Let them indulge their fairy tales, games and petty diversions at their own expense.

“Outrageous Scaremongering” Over Cannabis

with 15 comments

Last October,  36-year old Julie Ryan was found dead in bed by her three children, now aged 14, 13 and 8.  At a coroner’s inquest in Oldham last week, pathologist Dr Sami Titi said “The direct cause of her death was cardiac arrest because of a history of smoking cannabis”.

Dr Sami Titi

Julie’s family claims that this is not true, that Julie’s cannabis use has been blamed because the Royal Oldham hospital failed to treat her properly. In Britain, there has only been one previous occasion when a death has been attributed to cannabis. In 2004, Lee Maisey, 36 of Pembrokeshire, who smoked half a dozen “joints” a day, was found dead on his living room floor after complaining of a headache.

At the inquest in Oldham, the coroner, Simon Nelson, was said to be surprised at the pathologist’s story and questioned him closely. Dr Titi insisted that “smoking of cannabis is well known to have a negative impact on the heart and can cause heart attacks in young people”. The coroner said that in 15 years he had never heard a pathologist so confident that cannabis could be fatal. He recorded a narrative verdict of “death from cardiovascular complications induced by cannabis smoking”.

Coroner Simon Nelson

Julie’s brother, Kevin Ryan, says that the pathologist’s remarks are “outrageous scaremongering”. Her mother, Linda, is bewildered by events. As planned, Julie’s children had stayed with her while the inquest was taking place. Now they have returned home to the furore of this extraordinary verdict and are extremely distressed.

Julie had visited the Royal Oldham hospital several times complaining of chest pains but been sent away with a diagnosis of heartburn. The post mortem examination revealed she had a severely enlarged heart and had suffered a previous heart attack which had not been diagnosed. Family sources said “It’s a cover up. Cannabis doesn’t kill. They made a big mistake.” Mary Burrows, Julie’s cousin, who was very close to her, said she preferred to smoke cannabis rather than have a drink and that “she was a wonderful mother and her kids miss her so much”.

Dr Mark Eckersley, a local Manchester doctor, said “More and more pressure is being piled on medical professionals to propagate this type of untruth by the powers that be.” He said doctors need to maintain credibility with the community and that “this type of nonsense makes my blood boil”.

A spokesman for the Royal Oldham hospital said “Miss Ryan died from a heart attack and cardiovascular problems. Our thoughts and sympathy go to her family.”

On 2nd November in California, Proposition 19 is expected to permit the personal use of cannabis for the state’s 28 million adults. As a result, new tax revenues of $1.4 billion are anticipated, up to 110,000 new jobs and a boost of up to $18 billion to the state’s economy from spin-offs such as coffee shops and tourism.

In America, any health concerns about the plant are far outweighed by health benefits. Medical cannabis is already regulated in 14 states with another 12 in the planning stage. In Britain, Sativex, a whole plant extract of cannabis, was recently authorised as a treatment for MS. It costs about eight times what medical cannabis costs in America, Holland, Spain, Israel and very shortly Germany, where there is a fully regulated supply chain. In Britain, despite a House Of Lords Scientific Committee recommendation, the government refuses to consider such a move. Many patients whose doctors have prescribed Sativex have been denied funding from their health authority. In some of these cases, criminal prosecutions have been brought against them for cultivating their own plants.

A spokesman for GW Pharmaceuticals, developers of Sativex, said “The therapeutic ratio for cannabis is so high that it is virtually impossible to ingest a fatal dose”.

Prof. David Nutt

Professor David Nutt was sacked as chairman of the Home Office’s Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs last year after claiming that cannabis was less harmful than alcohol and tobacco. His successor, Professor Les Iversen, also maintains that cannabis has been “incorrectly” called dangerous and says it is one of the “safer recreational drugs”.

On Friday, Professor Nutt said cannabis “seems to cause much less harm than alcohol and that banning the plant is “unjust and therefore undemocratic”. He added: “The previous government’s policy to deter cannabis use by forceful policing increased convictions for cannabis possession from 88,000 in 2004 to 160,000 in 2008. As well as ruining many lives through getting a criminal record, this added massive costs to taxpayers in extra policing and prison costs.”

Prof. Les Iversen

Dr Sami Titi, the pathologist, was unavailable for comment and did not respond to emails. It has not been possible to identify any scientific support for his conclusions.

Julie Ryan’s family is left bemused and uncertain by this verdict. Three children are without a mother and confused about contradictory messages. The 13 year old has been posting on websites about her concerns. Meanwhile, the Public Accounts Committee and the National Audit Office have criticised the government for basing drugs policy on opinion rather than evidence. James Brokenshire, the Home Office Minister, in direct contradiction to his own advisers, continues with the story that cannabis is “extremely harmful”.

James Brokenshire

Both David Cameron and Nick Clegg are on record over the last 10 years as consistently calling for reform in drug policy. The Your Freedom website has been overwhelmed with requests for evidence based regulation of drugs and the legalisation of cannabis but the government is riding roughshod over this public outcry. A consultation document on a new drugs strategy was issued just over a week ago but it seems meaningless and dishonest as all the big decisions have already been taken. Cannabis campaigners, working on behalf of six million regular users in the UK, are outraged at what they see as hypocrisy, misinformation and regressive government action.

Dr Mark Eckersley, exasperated and concerned at the pathologist’s evidence said “This is simply not true. Hearing this story is more likely to cause a heart attack than the ingestion of any cannabinoid”.

Written by Peter Reynolds

August 31, 2010 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Health, Politics

Tagged with , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Age Of The End Of Religion

with 2 comments

For Easter…

…all things considered, religion is responsible for more evil in the world than it is good.

Islam demonstrates its evil effect every day.  It revels in its own use of “shock and awe” to terrorise us every day.

The Catholic Church disgraces itself, more every day.  It seeks to excuse its own deep sin as “petty gossip” on its own most holy day.

In Palestine, the Jewish nation  has become a Nazi state in the most horrific episode of hypocrisy every day. Day after day.

Science and freedom of thought is the only belief that makes sense.  Faith in outdated dogma and superstition is selfish and destructive.

Religion is dead.  Mankind lives.

Written by Peter Reynolds

April 4, 2010 at 11:46 pm